First...I do not anticipate purchasing Solidworks vault or management system.
We make tools but sometimes also engineer machines or production modifications to equipment. This discussion mostly has to do with the engineering process. In the past I have just created an assembly and then given parts in the assy a name that made sense to me like "Infeed shaft bearing". These projects also use many 3D parts from outside vendors like McMaster (greatest website ever) or others. In the end I have a folder that contains a jumbled mess of assemblies and parts that I created as well as outside parts that I downloaded from vendors - a big mess to come into if you are looking at your own work four years later or you are picking up something that someone else did.
So...how to organize this mess taking advantage of what you all have learned from blood, sweat and tears and not making things complicated?