Project Directory Structure

Most projects – even the smallest ones – need a project directory structure for storing important documents.

You may think this is a straight forward thing to create however after you may have tried working on several projects where the project structure didn’t work very well you realise it is not that easy anyway.

Things that may indicate a bad directory structure:

  • You gat asked all the time where to find files
  • You cannot always find your own files
  • You are tempted to or already have copied files to your local drive for accessibility
  • You have several copies of the same file but in different places
  • You have to remember current project phase to find files
  • You or somebody else keep moving files or directories around
  • You find the structure over engineered and too deep

This above list could be very long but golden rule is a good directory structure works for you rather than you have to work for the structure…

So what do we want to achieve with our better directory structure?

Negating some of the problems above and adding some of my experience we get this:

  • A lean and mean structure
  • Documents remain in same place throughout the whole project
  • Intuitive structure
  • Structure focused on deliverables rather than phases and departments

There is no single solution to the above and any solution will depend of the type and size of project.

For one of my recent projects I would have liked the following top-level structure :

  • Management
    • Scope
    • Planning
    • Resourcing
    • Quality Management
    • Status Reporting
    • Change Requests
    • Issues
  • Deliverables
    • Process
      • Requirements
      • To-Be Processes
    • Data Conversion
      • Data Conversion Plan
      • Data Conversion Strategy
    • Interfaces
      • Interface Plan
      • Interface Strategy
    • Configuration
      • BR100 – Application Setup
      • MD50 – Functional Design
    • Development
      • MD40 – Build Standards
      • MD70 – Technical Design
    • Database
      • Environment Plan
      • Patch Management
    • Test
      • Test Plan
      • Test Strategy
      • Test Scripts

As said – the above is an example only and will change based on project size and complexity.

Each directory above – especially MD50 can get out of hand on large projects so you may want to subdivide this by module or work stream.

Most operating systems arrange directories alphabetically however if you need to arrange directories within one level you can prefix the directory names with a number:

  • 10 Test Plan
  • 20 Test Strategy
  • 30 Test Scripts

Be sure to number with gaps in case you need a new directory in the middle.