One factor of productivity is how easily and ably you can find the information you need. While the majority of your day is spent on tasks and you are generally efficient, minutes lost to disorganization gradually add up over time and have an impact on your bottom line. And systems that at one time were well-thought-out and ordered may not be able to scale up as your business grows. In this blog post, we highlight common file management mistakes and offer file management best practices for rectifying them.
Failing to properly label and index
While there‘s no single naming system that applies to every organization, the labeling and indexing of documents and files should be clear and consistent. Too-general indexing terms that require users to interpret what documents are contained within a file folder should be avoided. Instead, specific dates and categories should be assigned so that no guessing is required. It’s important that once a file labeling and indexing system has been chosen, it is then communicated to everyone in all departments.
A key component of file management best practices is making sure that document retention schedules are adhered to, but this is difficult within a busy office setting where there is no dedicated oversight of document retention. Document retention periods should also be given consideration in the context of file categorization in order to ensure:
- legal and regulatory compliance
- timely disposal of expired information
- reduced overhead and operational costs
Outsourcing file management to professionals with indexing and records retention expertise alleviates potential administrative burdens and helps facilitate more controlled access to documents.
Not incorporating electronic documents in workflow processes
Sole reliance on hardcopy records is costly. First, your business needs a place to store all the paper. Second, manual, in-house file retrieval processes are time-consuming. End users have to physically go to where paper documents are located rather than having the information come to them, stalling efficient collaborative processes. Documents regularly get lost in file cabinets and boxes. Third, safety and security may be compromised. Files containing private information may be left out in the open leading to a costly data breach. And paper is especially vulnerable to fire, flooding, and natural disaster.
Active files can be scanned into digital formats. Electronic documents offer:
- more extensive remote working possibilities
- faster sharing of information
This doesn’t mean that you have to scan your entire file inventory, which is costly. Files of an archival nature can be economically stored, managed, and protected in a commercial records center.
Not protecting your file backup
Accidentally-deleted electronic documents can cause disastrous consequences for your business. Backing up your files is essential, but isn’t the only precaution you should take. A natural disaster at your primary place of business can destroy any backup data stored on-site. Because of this, backup media should be stored off-site in a vault environment that protects magnetic media and ensures swift retrieval to support your data recovery efforts in case of emergency.