Wasting a lot of time searching for an important document due to a poor filing system can be frustrating. Therefore, office filing system procedures are set practices for logically storing documents and important papers in the workplace.
Several papers are produced in an office daily that can be requested by various authorities anytime. Different organizations have different filing systems. However, the procedures they use can be similar.
Office filing system procedures aim to keep important documents easily accessible, clean, and tear-free. The filing system must be highly efficient to reduce the time it takes to retrieve the information.
What is document filing system
A document filing system is the primary record-keeping component of an office. On the other hand, filing means keeping the paper documents organized systematically, transparently, and efficiently. Thus, a document filing system makes it easier for employees to find documents easily and quickly.
Since large amounts of user data are generated every day in an office, a filing system helps to manage it. Not only does it involve storing and retrieving data, but also updating it. By sorting documents into related subgroups, everyone in the office can approach the categories that suit their purpose.
A document filing system should follow specific guidelines. For instance, before organizing the documents, you should eliminate unnecessary papers. According to zenhabits, that is the first rule to simplifying your filing system. Secondly, the filing system should be simple and performed once or twice a week.
Although all files matter, others can be more essential. As a result, a good document filing system should enable quick access to those files in the future. To make that possible, you should consider marking the essential documents to make them stand out among the rest.
What is office filing procedure?
Everything in the office needs to be accounted for – the employees’ job descriptions, financial receipts, workplace reports, or mailed letters. Therefore, the office filing procedure is a process that clearly defines the organization of these documents.
The officer in charge of filing establishes the office filing system in three fundamental ways. They can sort the documents alphabetically, numerically, or alphanumerically. The key is that it must make sense to the filing officer and the entire organization.
Following the appropriate filing system procedures can create an effective filing system. I will tell you how to do that in this article. Right now, I will talk about the best office filing system procedure. While others follow five basic filing steps, some organizations have a seven-step filing procedure.
Which is the best office filing system procedure
We can learn the best office filing system procedure from librarians. Although their main focus is on books, librarians are a perfect case study for organizing documents. In a nutshell, the best office filing system procedure begins with receiving the document and ends with retaining or filing it.
Although a five-step procedure is efficient, the seven-step office filing system offers significant insight. For example, the former involves receiving the document, taking action, performing a follow-up, collecting replies to be filed, and filing.
On the contrary, the best office filing procedure begins by deciding what documents need preservation and those that are not equally important. The second step is attaching related records together and indexing them for easy classification.
Thirdly, you need to sort and file the documents carefully and chronologically. If there are documents like purchase orders that require follow-up action, that would be the next step. However, it is important to keep an extra copy to remind the filing clerk to request borrowed records.
The last three procedures involve file retrieval, file transfer, and file retention. If you must remove a document, do so only under a written requisition. In that case, you should record the name of the person who has requested the file, the file name, the date it is retrieved, and when the borrower should return it.
How do you organize an office filing system?
There are several ways you can organize an office filing system. Whether you are digitally filing invoices, receipts, and other records, or simply doing it on paper, staying organized is essential for smooth business operations. You can use digital servers or cabinet drawers to organize an office filing system.
However, for easy retrieval of the information, you should consider the files’ importance, who needs access to them, and the retrieval frequency. An organized office filing system is good for the financial health of an institution and compliance with state laws and regulations.
The initial step to organizing an office filing system is assessing personal and office habits. This involves the documents frequently needed and those that can be archived for longer periods. Secondly, you should decide on a filing system.
As I said before, you can choose to file the information numerically, alphabetically, or by subject. For example, you should file account numbers numerically, whereas you can categorize financial documents under expenses, financials, and marketing.
The next step is identifying the storage needs of the office. In other words, files that are frequently accessed should be closer. This is also where you consider employees with special needs. For instance, do not use very high cabinets for frequently accessed documents if you have workers with special mobility needs.
Most importantly, use a good file labeling system to save time. Investing in differently colored file folders can be a wise choice as it allows users to identify specific files visually. For example, you can use red and yellow file folders for financial and marketing documents, respectively.
Institutions with significant record-keeping responsibilities include schools, law offices, and medical offices. A disorganized filing system leads to wastage of time, loss of information, and decreased efficiency. Additionally, employees can be irritated by poor records management.
Therefore, it is important to organize an office filing system. Let me tell you how to create an effective filing system so you can save everyone’s time.
How to create an effective filing system?
Creating an effective filing system can be challenging for beginners. However, you can use some simple tips to make it easier. You do not want to keep your boss waiting as you go through piles of disorganized files for an important document. It is time to do away with such traditional searches.
An effective filing system must not save everything. As we said before, you must only save relevant documents and avoid unnecessary ones. Secondly, be consistent with your naming method. This is where you can use color-coding to identify files and folders easily.
Regardless of the type of document you are dealing with, ensure to put related ones together. For example, you should file reports, letters, or presentations that belong to a particular project in a single folder.
Other ways of creating an effective filing system involve breaking larger folders into subfolders, organizing documents by date, and making digital copies.
How do you maintain an effective file system
Maintaining an effective filing system is essential for the safety of office documents. Whether you store your data digitally or in cabinets, maintenance is key. Here is how to do it;
- Place all unfiled documents in a single tray instead of spreading them all over the office.
- Depending on the organization’s size, have a disciplined filing calendar. For instance, file documents once a week or twice a month.
- Have a maximum number of documents in each file. In other words, do not squeeze papers into one folder. Instead, continue on another file.
- Acquire new filing cabinets before the existing ones are full.
- Where necessary, use virtual databases to maintain an effective file system.