A well-organized office filing system is a must-have for every business. An office filing system makes it easier to store & locate documents. But a filing system can mean different things for different businesses. For example, an effective filing system for a small-scale entrepreneur may be separate folders for invoices, employee records & sales receipts, whereas for a large corporation it may be a document organization tool that automatically organizes documents into different sub-folders, types, stacks, etc based on the document’s content & metadata.
Types of office filing systems
Paper-based office filing systems: Paper-based office filing systems aren’t just hundreds of cabinets filled with files & folders, it is a system that improves record-keeping. Let’s say you have 20 years’ worth of business records stored in various cabinets. A paper-based filing system creates separate categories & subcategories for different types of files depending upon the client & type of document. These categories & subcategories can be marked using color-coded tags or stickers. This method doesn’t just help categorize the documents more efficiently but also helps locate them faster when required.
Digital office filing systems: Digital office filing systems help organize electronic documents & files. They are your everyday-use business tools like Google Suite, Microsoft 360 & other document management system. Digital office filing systems replicate all the benefits of paper-based filing systems while being more cost-efficient & environment conscious than their counterpart.
Paper-based filing systems, although efficient, can be pretty outdated in comparison to digital filing systems. Let’s say you need to send a 5-year-old invoice to your client Acme Ltd. To do this, you will need to locate the document with the help of color-coded tags or sort through thousands of documents manually. Once the document is located, you will need to scan it & attach it to an outgoing email. Whereas, a digital filing system can locate & share the same invoice in just a few minutes.
Why you need an office filing system?
Have you ever missed out on tax deductions or sat through an overly-extended audit due to missing or unorganized documents? That’s exactly why you need an efficient office filing system. A filing system reduces the chances of misfilings, makes it easier to locate documents & simplifies business processes.
Most people think an office filing system only helps organize invoices & receipts, but it is much more. For example, an office filing system simplifies historical record keeping. The IRA asks organizations to store bank statements like tax returns, donation receipts, mortgage & rent receipts, tuition payment receipts, etc for up to 7 years. If your filing cabinets or digital folders aren’t properly organized, it can be very hard to find documents after long periods.
How to choose an office filing system?
List your requirements
The first step to choosing the right filing system for office is understanding why you need it. For example, your office might need a larger filing cabinet, but there might not be enough space, or you might be considering going digital but cannot afford to spend hours learning a new system.
To understand what your office needs, list down your requirements & speak to your employees. Understand which office processes are causing bottlenecks in the documentation process & identify solutions to better organize them with a filing system.
There is one more thing you need to consider before picking an office filing system – Business Prospects. Investing in a paper-based filing system might help you save thousands of dollars today, but it can result in added transition costs 5 years later.
Similarly, investing in a digital filing system today might give you better file management features, but it can result in extra expenditure for your business. Understand what your business needs today & what it might need a few years down the line, and choose an office filing system that benefits your business in the best possible way.
Choose a filing system
The next step is to pick the right filing system for your office. If you want to continue working with paper documents & want a filing system that can help organize folders, filing cabinets & drawers, you should invest in a paper-based filing system. But if you are looking for more organizational options & better security for your electronic documents, you should choose a digital filing system.
Take a trial
Select a few (3-5) paper-based or digital filing systems of your choice, and take a trial. A trial allows you to get a better understanding of the system w.r.t interface design, software bugs, customer service, security updates, etc and helps narrow down your choice to the most compatible filing system for your business.
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