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The importance of record-keeping and filing systems by both corporate as well as small businesses cannot be too highly stressed. A well-planned system contributes significantly to efficiency of operation as well as to a company’s ability to project a good image. Whether records are filed in a computer or in hard copy format, these must always be readily accessible.

IVORY OFFICE SUPPORT recommends that you make a study of your system. Conducting such a study is no more than taking an inventory of the records in your files. We can assist you with tidying up your system, but also suggest you could use some of the following guidelines should you wish to undertake this study yourself:

  • What is the subject matter of your records
  • Where should these records be filed
  • Who uses the records and needs access to them
  • How often are they used
  • How are these files/records used
  • How are the files/records referred to
  • What is the size of each file or record
  • How many copies of each document is filed, or needs to be filed
  • Who else has copies of the same record and by which method are they filed – electronic or hard copy

If you are a small business owner, some of these points will not apply. However, in a corporate environment, a thorough check if your filing system can reveal any of the following:

  • You find the information you need is difficult to obtain due to your system, or lack of one
  • You are repeatedly having to expand your hard copy file system capacity
  • You are maintaining duplicate files of the same information
  • You are filing material to protect the function and not because of information or legal requirements
  • You are using your filing system or equipment for non-records storage
  • Your file folders are too full for easy access
  • Your filing drawers or shelves are too full for easy access
  • You are not finding the information you require where you think you should be looking

This records inventory will indicate the strengths and weaknesses of your record-keeping system and whether or not you should be taking further action.

A call to IVORY OFFICE SUPPORT will enable us to either undertake the following steps on your behalf, or set up a system for you whereby you can manage this for yourself:

  • The most suitable arrangement of your records
  • Type of media to be filed (paper, microfilm etc.)
  • Proper equipment for adequate storage and retrieval
  • Proper systems to complement the equipment

IVORY OFFICE SUPPORT will then undertake the following Basic Filing Procedure for you. Your choice of the type of filing system you prefer will determine the best method for you to manage your records. You may prefer to use Lever Arch files or filing cabinets. Some of the below will apply to your individual selection:filing-right-align

  • Marking
    Determine under what name or caption the paper is to be filed
  • Correspondence records
    If the letter is marked for follow-up, then a record should be made and placed in the relevant file. If there is more than one place in which to file the document, a cross-reference is made.
  • Sorting
    Sorting is the preliminary arrangement of papers according to the first filing unit of the name or number. This is the last step prior to actual filing. Sorting also makes documents easy to find if they are needed while out of the file. Documents should be arranged in sequence (i.e. date and subject) so they can be placed in the proper folders
  • Filing
    This is the actual placing of documents in folders in a pre-determined plan. Documents are inserted into the File or Folder subject, date, or name

Numerical Filing
Should your system be large or complicated enough to require Numerical filing, all documents will be pre-numbered by you according to the system you use, and documents filed appropriately in date order. Should you require it, records of each document can also be maintained prior to filing.

Subject Filing
This system is the easiest and most common form of filing used by small businesses. It is the arranging of material by given subject – filing by descriptive feature instead of by name or number. A subject folder may contain any combination of correspondence, bulletins, clippings, pictures, statistics, trade journals and other printed information relating to the subject. This system works in conjunction with Chronological Filing, thus making document retrieval easier.

TIPS

Space:
A file drawer or shelf should be filled to no more than 90% of its capacity. Tightly packed files slow filing and frustrate the user. This can also cause damage to records.

File Overload:
Files should not be overloaded nor hold more than its capacity. If more files are placed in a folder than it can hold, the File label will slump down and out of sight.

File labelling and Folder Tabs:
All files should be clearly marked, and Folder tabs should be visible immediately upon opening the file.

Recording system for Files In Use:
This system should always be enforced in a Corporate environment, but is not often required for small businesses. A file borrowed without a record of who has removed it from the filing system is frequently a file lost. It is thus important to ensure a suitable supply of ‘file out’ cards is available for insertion into the space where the file would normally be found. These cards should have space for: User and Date Out as well as signature.

File Security
In a Corporate environment, some files will contain highly confidential data. Adequate controls should be set in place to control who may access what, and a secure system for sensitive files is enforced.

Basically, the key to a well run and smoothly operating organisation can quite well be indicated by how well their filing system, and thus document identification and retrieval, is managed.

IVORY OFFICE SUPPORT is the organisation who can help you install and maintain a system that functions for you

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