Running a business means paperwork—and lots of it. In today’s increasingly mobile world, more and more businesses are making the switch from storing that paperwork physically to managing it digitally.
Digital storage systems offer numerous benefits over printed paperwork. For starters, digital files take up a lot less room—and computers will automatically alphabetize files by name or date, so no one ever has to “do the filing.” Yet even a digital file storage system can become disorganized and hard to manage without some structure.
Creating A Folder Structure
Just like with a paper-and-ink system, if users just throw files into random folders it can become difficult to find a specific document when it’s needed. Using a computer’s “search” feature can help, but unless the user can accurately recall the file’s name or key phrases, even that might not get them very far.
Most computers start out with a few default folders. These folders are great for getting started with a personal system, but they’re not so great for business purposes. Businesses should take the time to set up an organized and consistent filing system for electronic documents.
This may mean folders for departments within the business—think finance, sales and human resources—or folders for each client or project. It can even mean different document management systems for different types of projects. For example:
- A filing system for an employee’s desktop
- Space on a shared server for teams
- An extranet for projects involving clients, or
- A secure virtual data room for sensitive information
Whatever systems the company uses, it’s important to be consistent, utilize folder structure templates, and communicate file management rules to everyone involved. Files should be stored in such a manner that multiple users can easily find documents and files, as necessary.
A few more quick organization tips:
Tip 1: Name It Right —Using a standard naming protocol for folders and files makes it much easier to find what one is looking for later on. When downloading or creating a new document, users should take the time to save it correctly the first time.
Tip 2: Use Subfolders — When a folder gets too many files in it the user has to scroll through the full list to find what they need. Instead, create subfolders and place groups of similar files inside.
Tip 3: Be Consistent — Whatever systems a business uses to gain control over its paperwork, the key is consistency. That means if the business chooses to store all files digitally, employees should scan printed documents so that everything is stored in one place.
Whether you’re setting up a new computer’s folder structure or trying to reorganize an old one, chances are your goal is to make sure you can always find what you’re looking for; with these tips you’ll be well on your way to a well-organized 2013.