A reader recently contacted me to ask for information about document version control and how it can be done. It’s not difficult, and software makes it even easier. This article will discuss the principles of version control and how to get started with any software (or none).
This article:
What is version control?
Why is version control important
How to get started with document revision control
What is version control?
How to do version control for documentsSo how do we do it?

How to use document numbering within a version control table
Using ‘v’ in document file names
What to do about old versions
Automated document version control
Next steps

What is version control?
Here’s a quick definition:
Document version control is the process for tracking and managing different versions of a document (or drafts), so you know which one is the current.
Version control can be used to manage many project documents and other assets.
It will be a problem in other areas of your job, especially in coding. Coders need to keep detailed logs of all changes and the current version of the source codes.
It’s part project configuration management. When we are referring to documents, the main elements of configuration management don’t differ.
I was genuinely mistaken to believe that I had already covered this topic on my blog. It is the subject of a chapter from my book Shortcuts to Success, Project Management in the Real World.
(The chapter is only a few hundred words long. Even I can’t spin version control for more than that!
Why is version control important
Why would you want the latest version?
Version control is essential because it ensures everyone is working with the same version of a document. You also know that everyone is using the most recent version.
Imagine how many hours you would lose if your team member was working from outdated requirements.
I can’t imagine it, but I have been there! It was part of the lessons learned for our projects. Learn from my mistakes and monitor the evolution of your files with version control.
This is important as it allows you to keep track of who changed the file, who saw them, and when they were approved. This information is useful for project managers.
How to get started with document revision control
I have always thought configuration management was a fancy title for something very simple.
(If you are interested in this type of thing, your configuration management plan is part your project management plan.
It is easiest to have your software tools version control your documents. This feature is often built into project management collaboration tools. If you find the right tool.
Your software creates a new version every time you save a document to the repository. This allows you to always go back and view the changes that have occurred.
This approach has its challenges. These issues are discussed below. Continue reading to learn more about how you can rely on your software.
What is version control?
Version control works because it prevents anyone from changing or overwriting information that has been entered into a document by another person. This means that someone “checks out” the document and then works on it. The screenshot below shows how Dropbox for Teams looks.
Once you have completed a version and are ready to receive feedback from others, you can make it public for them to view. You can then make changes, accept, reject, and edit it for others.
Continue doing this until you have a final copy of the document that everyone can read.