7 Steps to a Better Digital Filing SystemEditorial Team
Whether you’ve always had a digital filing system or went 100% digital as a result of the pandemic, your filing system is essential to your day-to-day work. However, like paper filing systems, digital filing systems need structure and ongoing organizing to be most effective. When was the last time you scanned through the folders and files in your system?
There is probably a long list of random documents that never made it into a folder. You’ll also see documents whose names you can’t decipher because they look like a secret code. Navigating through a disorganized filing system wastes valuable time, is frustrating, and is counter-productive when duplicate folders are set up. These 7 steps for a more effective digital filing system will save time and result in a more user-friendly filing system.
Keep the File Structure Simple.
Start by limiting the number of main folders to those that are essential for your business. Keep the categories broad and use a minimal number of sub-folders to further divide the contents into logical groupings. For example, you may organize the main folders by departments (finance, marketing, etc.), clients, or products. Then the sub-folders under finance could include budgets and financial statements.
Limit the Number of Clicks.
Being able to quickly and efficiently locate a document when needed should be the objective. This means less clicks as you’re navigating through the filing system. When designing the file structure, focus on limiting the number of clicks to 3. This way there will be less frustration because information can be more easily located.
Get the Users Involved.
If your filing system could use re-organizing, have those that are using the system share their feedback concerning what is working and what isn’t. While there may have been good intentions when the system was setup, the file structure and folder names may not be intuitive to those who actually use them daily.
Be Consistent with Document Naming.
Create a simple document naming system that everyone in your company follows. The name should be clear, concise, and descriptive so that all users will have a sense of the contents of a document before opening it. In addition, the date and version should be included. Determine the order of this information so that all documents line up in a folder in the correct order.
Assign a Filing System Monitor.
Once you have re-organized your digital filing system, assign a staff member to periodically review the contents of the filing system during the year. Their objective is to make sure all documents are filed according to the established guidelines, keep an eye out for potential issues, and address them before they become a bigger problem.
Archive, Archive, Archive.
As your business grows, your services or products may change. While you might not to want to delete any of the information that has collected, you are no longer accessing it. However, it is cluttering up your filing system. By organizing this information and moving it into an archive folder, you can always retrieve it if needed.
Schedule Annual Cleanouts.
Very much like paper filing systems, digital filing systems should be reviewed and decluttered once a year. Scheduling time and assigning responsibility for this task can be part of the end of year activities. Information that is no longer needed should be archived. Documents that aren’t in folders should be filed. Empty folders should be deleted.
Stephanie Shalofsky, founder of The Organizing Zone, specializes in working with small companies to gain control over their work environment resulting in more productive and professional workspaces. She brings to her work the discipline, professionalism and project management skills that come from years of corporate employment. This combined with her training as a Certified Virtual Professional Organizer™ and Certified Productive Environment Specialist™, plus her non-judgmental empathetic style enables her to create highly functional and organized workspaces for her clients. www.theorganizingzone.com