Is your office loaded with file cabinets and documents? Do you find yourself searching for hours before you find the document you’re looking for? Don’t feel alone. Many organizations struggle with file and document management.
But on-site paper document storage consumes an inordinate amount of time, space, and other company resources. Making the switch to a more convenient records management system can save your company time, money and headaches. Even better, a streamlined, updated records management system means your employees can access the files they need quickly and easily.
Great! So, you’ve decided to convert your on-site file storage to a streamlined document management system. Now what? What’s the first step?
Step 1: Choose Your Storage Option
When streamlining your records management, you have to select what type of system to use.
- One option is to convert all paper records to digital files, if your company is not required by law to keep original hard copies of certain records. This can reduce rooms full of paper files to just a few digital storage devices. But this can be a labor-intensive process, depending on how many files you have. If you choose to go this route, you can hire a document scanning company to convert all of your paper records into digital files, or you may just want to do it in house. If you have sensitive documents, they will need to be shredded. Again, a document shredding service can take care of secure document destruction for you.
- A second option is to store your files off site with a records management service that offers a scan-on-demand solution. With this service, rather than paying for all your records to be scanned (and shredded) up front, you can store them off site in a secure environment, freeing up space in your office. A good document storage service will index all your files for easy access, then scan them and make them available to you electronically, in any format you choose, as you need them.
If you choose full digital conversion, you will need extra assistance to ensure your company is at optimal organization prior to scanning. Many document storage providers will help you sort through your files and prepare them for electronic conversion.
Step 2: Create a Detailed Naming System
After you choose how you will store your files, you will need to create a detailed naming system that works for your company. Your naming convention should:
- Be very specific. This will help you differentiate between similar files.
- Include full dates, or at least the month and the year. This will help you find a file from a particular time or differentiate between similar files.
- Avoid abbreviations. What makes sense to you at the time may not make sense in the future. You can waste a good deal of time trying to figure out old abbreviations.
When you create your naming system, consider how you and your company will access this document. What digital platform will you be using? What files do you use the most? What categories of documents do you handle? Think about these issues as you create your naming system.
Step 3: Organize by Date and Content Type
Your naming system can also aid your file organization. Typically, companies use the same system as they have in the past for hard copy filing. However, a simple go-to solution is to organize your files either by date or by content.
Step 4: Re-Assess Your System Periodically
After you’ve established your records management system, check back in a few weeks to evaluate its efficiency. Some files may not work as well as others and you may want to create a new naming or organization system. Ask your document storage provider for assistance with this process.
Step 5: Integrate Organization Into Practice
Organization requires consistent upkeep – without this, you can spend hours trying to re-organize your files. To avoid this, implement a company organization policy to ensure that you organize your files correctly as you go along. Train your staff on appropriate naming conventions and your new system. This will ensure that you find your files whenever you need them.
Are you ready to organize your company’s data and documents for good? Armstrong Archives. offers document storage, scanning, scan-on-demand, shredding, and consulting services to handle records storage problems of any type and size.
Posted By: Sherri Taylor – President/Managing Partner
Sherri Taylor is the Managing Partner and President of Armstrong Archives, one of the largest independent records and information management companies in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.