These days we are moving away from keeping hard copy files with more of our records being stored on computers and on-line. Just like a filing cabinet, electronic files need to be organised and managed properly.
What types of electronic files should be saved?
Documents and data used for business purposes such as; letters, emails, forms, policies, reports, spread sheets, presentations, photos, videos, audio files & folders.
Where should electronic files be saved?
Organisation files should be stored in a folder structure, on a secure computer only accessible to staff that need to use them, consider the password protected desktop computer.
A shared folder structure can be created in C;/Users/Public/Public Documents accessible to anyone who logs into an account on the computer.
A private folder structure can be created in an account such as C;/Users/Manager/Documents only accessible when logging into the ‘Manager’ account.
A copy of the files should be regularly backed-up and kept in a secure location off-site. Learn more about creating a file back-up: Tip – Performing a File Backup & Equipment Maintenance
Why is good electronic file management important?
- Organisation records can be accessed easily by those who need them
- Organisation records are secure and backed up
- Files are easy to find and up-to-date
- Out-of-date files are archived accordingly
- File space on computers is used appropriately
- Staff follow correct file naming and storage practices
- Paper, printer and stationary supplies are conserved
Steps to organise and manage your Organisation’s electronic files;
- Create a new well planned Folder Structure
Start fresh with a new and well planned folder structure to store files in. Create top-level folders according to functions/ activities, rather than staff names. Use relevant and clear titles.
Create sub-folders in each folder, further grouping the files produced as part of the function. Consider creating sub-folders for each year.
- Continued Maintenance & Records Management
Once the new folder structure is created you can start moving existing files into the correct place in the new structure, then set a date to archive the old locations.
Inform staff how to appropriately name folders and files, keeping consistency of your organised files structure. Ensure they are familiar with the new structure so they know what to save and where.
As time goes by, the amount of files stored will increase and the amount of available space will decrease. A regular spring clean will stop your file structure becoming too large, deleting data that is no longer required is one way of keeping your folder structure manageable.