While electronic filing of documents can solve the frustrations and storage space issues associated with filing cabinets, they do come with their own challenges. The primary challenge being organization, especially when a large number of people have editing access – like they do on network servers.
Below, you'll find 5 tips to help you better organize the file folders on your network servers.
Ok, this doesn't have so much to do with the everyday organization and management of your company's digital files, but it does serve as a critical foundation to future success. It's important to bring in all applicable parties and departments within the office to first talk about the issues presented by sloppy or otherwise poor document management on the network server. Poor organization leads to inefficient retrieval and workflow, as well as inconsistencies and wasted network space. Open communication among all parties will help establish strong guidelines and shared expectations, and is a crucial starting point.
#2: Review Your Current Data Organization
It's hard to develop an organized file folder system on the network server if you don't have a clear picture of the current state of your data organization. Team leaders from various departments should be looped into this step. Look at the existing shared spaces and files, determine how effective (or ineffective) current document management and workflow processes are, and see where changes can be made.
#3: Make Use of Shortcuts
Shortcuts allow individual employees to create a quick connection to files on the network server without actually creating multiple duplicate versions of the same file. Additionally, deleting a shortcut (on purpose or accident) has no impact on the original file, which remains stored safely on the network server.
#4: Use Short File Names
Just because Windows, for example, allows you to issue file names as long as 255 characters doesn't mean you have to pen and ode to the file in question. Shorter file names not only make it easier to find files, but it also avoids the inevitable increase in the length of files stored in multiple subfolders.
Tip: Whenever possible, use abbreviations such as "Dept" for department and numeric dates instead of full-length dates, such as "11-4-2015" instead of November 4, 2015.
#5: Be Descriptive with Folders
While being short and to the point, you must also be descriptive. Don’t sacrifice clarity to keep your file names short. Folder names are important in breaking down files into smaller, easier-to-manage and identifiable units.
For some organizations, a good starting point may be to break down folders by department, such as "Marketing," "Finance" and "Human Resources." Within each of these applicable folders, you can create subfolders with specific titles that allow you to focus on individual projects or responsibilities. For example, the Human Resources folder can contain subfolders on "Payroll," "Employee Benefits," "Healthcare Enrollment" and other applicable titles.
On the other hand, it is also advisable to group the various components of a project together in one primary folder. That main folder should be clearly labeled with the project name, and contain subfolders for each of the departments or teams involved in the project to nest their files and other documents.
Dangers of Poor Organization
An unorganized file system can create a lot of havoc in the office. First and foremost, a lack of central organization guidelines leaves the door open to confusion, duplication and data loss. When any employee can access any file from anywhere, with no guidelines, files can be moved, renamed or accidentally deleted. The question then becomes, is simply organizing the files on your network server the best solution? We think there's a better way...
Document Management Systems
A document management system is a simple software program that makes it easier for your company to store and track electronic documents on the network server. Not only does the average document management system help you organize documents, it helps avoid the pitfalls of poor organization in the process. Best of all, it's easier to implement than the tips listed above.
Among the most prominent benefits of document management software are the following points:
- Cloud access: employees can download and upload documents at any time, while still permitting versioning and permission controls to avoid improper access and unacceptable alterations/duplications.
- Intelligent organization: as your company grows, file management is going to become more difficult. Document management systems make it easy to establish categories, tags and ratings to find files quickly and easily.
- Attractive user interface: your employees shouldn't feel overwhelmed during interactions with file management, and a good document management system makes navigation and search simple.
- Universal format support: just because one type of file extension is common today doesn't mean it is the only type your company uses. Universal format support allows your staff to manage multiple file formats without issues popping up down the road.
You can implement a new file organization approach for your network server through countless meetings with your staff, or let a document management system help you streamline the process.