Most business people have had this experience at one time or another: they’re on the phone and someone asks for a piece of information. They know that information is in a certain document on their computer, but when they go to look for it, it’s nowhere to be found. Sound familiar?
Now take that same situation and add in multiple users, all pulling from the same shared file system, and without some basic guidelines for file storage, the problem suddenly gets a whole lot worse.
Fortunately, whether it’s one user or many, it’s a fairly easy problem to solve. The solution is developing protocols for file storage that are applied consistently. When the same method is used regularly it becomes habitual, and when there is a core pattern for how documents and files are saved, it becomes much easier for anyone on the team to navigate the digital file storage system.
Create a Folder Structure
The key to having an organized file system is how the company sets up its folders. Folders and subfolders should be used the same way that someone might use a filing cabinet, organizing information by cabinet, by individual drawer and then by folders within. Just as you would with physical files, it’s important to make sure the folder structure cascades in a logical way and that each folder of the same type has the same internal structure.
For example, one option for a product-based business would be to make folders for each product, with the details for that product within subfolders (manufacturing specs, marketing plans, financial projections, etc.). Another option is to inverse that strategy and instead to create folders by the departments that need them. Smaller companies may have better luck with a client-based filing system, whereas larger companies will likely find it easier to manage documents by department.
However, any system is fine — so long as you clearly define your specific filing protocols and then require that all team members use them consistently.