Options for managing document filing and retrieval.
By establishing a consistent system for filing and tracking documents, you will impose a sense of order on your records. This will save you time and ensure that the records you need will be at your fingertips. This works for business or personal filing systems
There are lots of choices when it comes to filing documents. No single system suits all types of records. It is important to match the system you choose to the particular types of records (financial, personnel and so on) you are keeping.
Here is an overview of the most popular options:
- Alphabetical filing is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems. It’s a good method for keeping personnel files, vendor records and customer files. Be sure to develop a universal index and a system of standards that describes how the names should be broken down for filing.
- Numerical sequence, such as accounting numbers, customer numbers, order numbers. There are several types of numerical filing systems, with the simplest being consecutive. Documents are placed in order according to their assigned number. Experts say numerical systems work best if you have fewer than 10,000 files to manage.
- Geographical sequence, such as by province: with breakdowns by cities, towns, postal codes, etc.
- Subject or organizational, such as by department, function or subject activity.
- Chronological, by years, quarters, months and/or days.
- Color coded. This coding is generally used in conjunction with one of the above systems to make it even faster and more efficient. For a numerical filing system, for example, you’d use a different coloured file folder for each number from 0 to 9, to speed retrieval and refilling.
- Hybrid. Companies often use alphabetical or numerical sequencing within geographical, subject or chronological filing systems.
- Bar codes. Scannable bar codes can speed more than retail checkout lines and inventory tracking. Organizations ranging from doctors’ offices to Fortune 500 companies use them for document tracking. Various bar codes, including the alphanumeric Code 128, are commercially available. Users can invest in equipment and software to generate their own labels or buy labels commercially.