All companies need records management and a program with a records manager who handles a well-developed retention schedule. The following twelve-step plan is recommended as the need for an improved filing system becomes evident.
- Purge Inactive Files -Removing inactive and duplicate files from you active filing system improves retrieval times. Your active filing system also takes up less floor space. At this point, do not get rid of inactive files.
- Inventory Records – Run a detailed records inventory. This will help you evaluate labeling standards and information flow. Running a detailed records inventory is required if you plan on converting files to a side-tab file system or Records Management Software.
- Convert to a Side-Tab Folder System – Conventional drawer cabinets slow file retrieval and the refilling process because they are not space efficient. For faster record retrieval and a system that takes up less floor space, a shelf-based side-tab filing system works best. If you do some research you will find that converting to a shelf-based side-tab filing system saves. Serious attention is given to the cost, planning and implementing of the filing systems that your organization needs.
- Evaluate Current Labeling Standards – Run a detailed records inventory. This will help you evaluate labeling standards and information flow. Running a detailed records inventory is required if you plan on converting files to a side-tab file system or Records Management Software.
- Choose the correct folder – There are numerous styles of folders to choose from. The style you choose should be based on usage, amount of materials, and length of time files will be kept in active status.
- Use Indexes or Partitions– For organization and standardization of files, use folders with indexes and/or partitions. This allows for faster access to required documents and also assists in maintaining file integrity.
- Invest in an On-Demand Labeling System – On-Demand labeling software is an economical way to improve your filing system. On-Demand labeling software allows you to print a one-piece label from an ink jet or laser printer. Labels are typically 7″ to 8″ long and can be printed with any type or style of color-coded labels, name and address information, and barcode labels. On-Demand labeling eliminates individual hand-wrapping of color-coded labels and the additional tasks of typing file name labels. On-Demand labeling can produce alphanumeric labels, top-tab and side-tab labels, and different label styles for different departments within your organization.
- Standardize – Standardization of filing systems should be a major goal. Standardizing equipment, supplies, software, procedures, and policies results in economies of scale and uniformity throughout the organization.
- Implement Processes – Implement appropriate processes, technology, equipment, and supplies for each filing system application. Converting to open-shelf file shelving, implementing color coding and bar coding, implementing file indexing, file tracking, and a records retention schedule results in a system that can be integrated with other information systems within the organization.
- Implement Records Management Software – An array of quality records management software packages exist for use in augmenting records management programs, systems, and functions. These programs can prepare and maintain records retention/control schedules, track files and boxes in the office to in storage, and help manage retention of records.
- Develop a Records Management Manual – Every organization needs a records management manual. The manual should be a reference guide for your organization and a training tool for new personnel. The manual should provide an explanation of every filing system in your organization including detailed filing procedures. Build in a section on frequently asked questions that can be easily developed from questions asked by members or your organization. Considering complimenting your manual with videos to make learning easy.
- Report Savings / Accomplishments – Prepare an annual report (at least) detailing savings. Savings report should include details space saved, personnel savings due to converting to a file system that provides more efficient access.
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