Picture an office setting and chances are filing cabinets feature somewhere in the image. Paperwork is a part of any business and the amount seems to grow as the business does. Even the best filing systems can fall prey to problems, however. Someone forgets to return a file; someone else puts an important paper in the wrong file; or, there are just so many files that it takes forever to locate your desired papers. Today’s advances in digital records management make the chaos of a paper filing system almost obsolete. In four easy steps, you can have that mountain of paperwork organised and easy to navigate.
Excavate and Copy
If your files are like most, there will be years’ worth of papers hiding in those folders. Many of those documents may no longer be necessary and can be placed in a shredder immediately. To speed up this process, adopt a one-touch rule. For each piece of paper, either scan or toss. Once scanned, either toss or save for refilling. Having a copier that can scan both sides of a page is a plus at this stage, but any scanner will do what needs to be done and make a digital copy.
Set up a Digital Filing System
This step is the most important. Deciding on how you set up your digital records so they are easily retrieved will be worth the time it takes to put in place. Having some type of tree-like system can work incredibly well, but do your homework in advance and look for a system that works with your needs. You want to have a system that is easily searchable by anyone needing access to the files in question. The goal is to be able to bring up any document in seconds.
In the digital world, the best insurance is to back up your files. Once you have everything scanned and filed in your virtual file cabinet, backup the entire thing. You don’t want all your hard work to disappear with one power surge or a failed computer. Backing the files up online will give you peace of mind, knowing that they are retrievable from anywhere, at any time. This also makes it possible for large businesses to share the same information between scattered branches.
Destroy Paper Records
Having everything scanned, organised and safely backed up, you now need to destroy all the paper records. Simply bagging those up, while easy, is not safe. Those papers hold all the information about you, your employees and your business. By making sure you shred each of them, you make it impossible for those who have no need for this information to obtain it. Once everything is shredded, you may wish to recycle it.
Earlier I mentioned the possibility of refilling. Certain records, such as tax documents and insurance policies, need to be in their original state. This group of papers should be as small as possible, taking up maybe one or two file folders in a small business. Properly label these and file them where they are easily obtainable when needed.
Having set up your digital records management system, you can now get rid of those file cabinets. The space is now free for other items that can make your office more comfortable and efficient. Maybe you’ll want to invest in a nice recliner for an afternoon power nap, which is now possible with all that time you’ll save searching for files.