At the start of a project, take the time to make sure the documentation system is as simple and easy to use as possible.
Ideally, you shouldn’t have folders within folders within folders containing spreadsheets and documents on the computer system.
Preferable would be a well managed enterprise project management system, or at least a database system from where most things can be accessed.
Reduce time wastage by making sure files are stored as close to where they are accessed as possible. If your server is based in one city and most of the project team that accesses it is based in another, make sure you either have a very fast connection to it or have the files stored locally instead. A delay of 30 seconds to open every file can add up to hours of wasted time each week per person.
Proper complete training should be provided to all members of the project team on how to find and access files. A standard filing system should be used across all projects so people can easily start work in a project without wasting time. Standard templates should be easily available to cover most common uses, including change or variation tracking, costs changes, and anything that would commonly be used to store information.
You don’t want lots of people using their own style of spreadsheet for the same type of information. It should be standardised and known by all, yet as simple as possible.
Changes or updates to these templates should be easy yet centralised. It should not need lots of signatures and days of waiting. Anyone should be able to easily submit a change to template proposal which will be enacted as soon as possible. (This could be a difficult process to manage, it is better to get the forms right the first time).