The demands of our modern society continue to place an emphasis on the need for office mangers to implement a reliable filing strategy. Fortunately, modern technologies have made it easier than ever to file documents either through a paperless system where they can be quickly retrieved or through a more traditional system where an electronic index can aid in quick retrieval.
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Paperless Electronic Content Management System
Advances in digital-scanning technology have made it possible to maintain a document filing system in electronic form. This most modern of filing systems is implemented as the original incoming documents are scanned by a production scanner, indexed and processed into a content management system where the content should be easily retrieved through search functionality. Even though the content can be retrieved with a search, it can still be important to classify documents with descriptive tags and titles that follow an organised naming structure; this will allow for additional methods of search that can aid in the discovery of documents should your query result in the return of too many documents.
Alphabetical File System
Alphabetical files systems dictate the filing of records in alphabetical order by the title of the file. For this system to be effective, standardise the file-tagging methodology. For example, the users of the system should ignore articles in the title such as "the," "an" and "a." And names of people should be filed with the family name first and the given name second. The failure to develop a consistent methodology for dealing with these types of anomalies can lead to confusion and the delay in file-retrieval time.
Chronological File System
A chronological file system is optimal for offices where certain events predictably occur on a time basis. As an example, an office tasked with the responsibility of renewing a set of licenses at the same time each year could benefit from a file system by which the license renewal applications were filed in chronological order. Thus, they are easily retrieved when it is time to process them. It will be helpful to keep a computerised, easily searched index of the files and their location in the file system by using spreadsheet or database software. This index will be of assistance should it be necessary to retrieve a file before its scheduled time for consideration.
Numeric filing is ideal when the files can be categorised by easily definable categories or when all of the files are naturally assigned a tracking or purchase-order number. Users of a numeric system should assign a range of eligible file numbers to each category. Accounts payable could be assigned numbers 100 to 199; invoices, 200 to 299; payroll, 300 to 399; and so forth. Each entry is then assigned a decimal point. For instance, using the above example, the first file containing invoices for a certain client might be assigned to the number 201.01. This type of file system offers the ability to more quickly retrieve files then the alphabetical system. An electronic index such as those offered by spreadsheet or database programs will assist in allowing the immediate location of files. You must keep the index updated in real time. Never create a file without adding its entry in the index.
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