Give Your Files a High 5
Adopt these 5 ideas to really use your documents—not just store them.
In last month’s newsletter, Do it like Dewey, we looked at the Dewey Decimal System as an example of an effective records management system (possibly the most effective in the world). We found ideas in Dewey that businesses can apply to their own records management processes.
We got quite a few emails from you asking for more ideas. Here are our “high 5”—five practices that will get virtually any document management system operating at a high level:
A number on every box.
We mentioned this one last month: Give every box its own number and log it. There’s nothing wrong with a simple “1, 2, 3, 4…” numbering system per se. BUT over time (not much time in a big company) it can get cumbersome. Consider starting fresh each year: Your boxes with 2011’s records would then be numbered “2011-1, 2011-2, 2011-3….” However you number your boxes, NEVER duplicate numbers!
Location, location, location.
You’ll never ask, “Dude, where’s my box?” if you log its location. We don’t just mean which facility, building or room. Go deep into detail with row number, shelf number—any information that’s going to take a searcher straight to the box.
Get the most from your software.
Don’t be shy about making your document management software earn its keep.
- Maximize your software’s “sort” function.
- Use as many fields as you can. Your software’s only as good as what you put in; when you leverage more data fields, you exponentially increase your search power.
- Make sure you’re using a naming system that’s intuitive and understandable to everyone involved in document management. Creating filters in your spreadsheets can help users narrow their searches.
In short, learn your software. Know it, understand it and use it. (Next month, we’ll go into greater detail about using data points.)
Think of the future.
You not only want to be able to find your documents, but also to be efficient about your storage space. Put another way, you don’t want files overstaying their welcomes. So make note of when each box can be destroyed:
- Identify each box’s retention period—the amount of time you’re required to hold on to its contents for legal, accounting or other compliance purposes.
- Explain these reasons and make note of their type. This is important for keeping your log up to date in the event of regulatory or other changes in document retention requirements.
- Note the individual(s) who determine destroy dates, for compliance and internal accountability.
To paraphrase Stephen R. Covey, you want to begin with the end in mind. When a box goes into storage, you want to know its shelf life.
Time it right.
Your most recently created files and documents are the ones in most active use—not prime candidates for box storage. So which files are? That’s a question every business will answer differently. As you do, think “big picture”:
- “How frequently should we be transferring files from cabinets to boxes and storage?” Ideally, your goal is to keep on hand the files that your employees need to access regularly and, when needed, immediately. Time is money!
- “Can off-site pick-up and retrieval services save us money over the long term?” In other words, is it more cost-efficient to outsource those time-consuming services, rather than send busy employees to do them?
As you can probably imagine, experience, up-to-the-minute knowledge and attention to detail are all vitally important elements of effective document management. If you’re like most businesses, you probably can’t imagine having the time to give your document management process the attention it needs.
Taking Control of Inactive Records with Corodata
Properly labeling and tracking inactive files, and moving them safely offsite, can save your company space, time and money; remove the threat of losing documents; providing easy retrieval of files when needed, and set your reputation as a secure company.learn more
Read Part 3 of A Records Management Veteran’s Approach to Getting and Staying Organized.making critical points for a better tomorrow