How To Set Up An Easy Filing System
Filing must be the pet hate of most office workers. But it doesn’t need to be that hard or that much hatred. This is usually the symptoms of a disorganised office. Truly. If you had a simple to use, easy guide and followed the system then chances are you could find that document each and every time.
Whether it’s for work or home, good record keeping is a must. Although you may not necessarily work in a fully paperless environment, setting up an efficient electronic filing system that is easy to maintain, is essential for any type of office. Your electronic filing system should help to reduce filing time and make retrieving documents easy. But like any system, it will only be as good as those that follow the system and advisable that the entire team have the same system operating.
Structure – think about how you wish to structure your filing system. It may be numerical, chronological or alphabetical order or a combination of that. i.e. main folder titled ‘photos’ then each sub-folder labelled by year and in an alphabetical order, or you may use the clients surname i.e. SMITH John or business name as the folder name i.e. SMITH ENGINEERING. If naming folders by the date then use this formula Year – Month so they will all fall into some order.
File Names – Individual documents and items should be correctly named so that you know exactly what the file contains without having to open it. If you are scanning a document, ensure you name it before you save it in the appropriate file. Another method that has worked efficiently in some offices, is to name the sub-folders alphabetically i.e. 01 Brown, 02 Smith, 03 Wood to follow the flow of works, in this particular case it was the flow of contracts on a specific property.
Organisation – Try to be as concise as possible when labelling documents. Naming folders and files in a uniform manner will keep your directory neat. There is often a pattern in the method you conduct your business, therefore your files could be started with the master files automatically inserted i.e. Admin, Marketing, Correspondence, Legal Docs etc. if that is the regular pattern for the majority of your clients. That way, nothing should be missed.
Accessibility – you should be able to locate your documents in a few seconds. Correct naming of files means you will be able to make full use of the search functionality on your computer (if needed) and able to retrieve items instantly. To prevent unauthorised access, consider encrypting sensitive documents and files with a password.
Back up – a good back system is essential for electronic filing. A combination of an external hard drive and cloud based software is the best way to ensure your important documents are safe. I use Dropbox for my cloud back up which has the advantage of being accessible with other team members, other clients and when I’m on the road too.
Photos and Videos – I prefer to keep my hard drive running at maximum capacity and therefore store my photos directly into the cloud; name the photo file under the clients name with sub-folders if necessary depending on the project. The photos within this folder can be named by client then date for easy searching later.
Procedure – in a larger office, it is usual to have a filing system written within the Procedure Manual even having a graphic filing map in view of each team member to ensure adherence to the procedure.