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Document Management: Sort and Access Your Files and Folders with Ease

In our last post we talked about using consistent file names to make it easier to sort and access your files, now we go one step further in exploring document management from a slightly higher vantage point.

Whether you're a solopreneur or part of a global enterprise, keeping the information you need at your fingertips is critical to success. Your organization may have policies in place that state you must store your data on a specific server or location on your hard drive, but have you received any direction on how to organize files within that sphere?  Many of us are also required to share our files amongst team members – but how is this information filed?

In my opinion, a document management policy that covers how and where to store completed, active and future projects is an integral part of best practices. I expect larger organizations have a document management policy in place that keeps completed projects separate from active files. My experience has revealed that this is often through separate "slices" of one or more file servers that are allocated accordingly. If you’re unsure about your organizations file/document management policies, be sure to check with “the powers that be.”

For today’s edition, our focus is the corporate or administrative aspect of your business or position. Here are some of my favourite tips to remember when sorting or to easily access your documents:

  • Use a project/client based folder structure or return to the alphabetical structure (still used in actual file cabinets). Project or client based folder structures may result in a standard set of subfolders, for example: Proposals, Contracts, Permits, Exception/Deficiency Reports, Images, Subcontractors, etc.
  • Create subfolders to store like with like, place all letters with letters, images with images etc., keeping the previous point in mind
  • Archive completed projects, or simply separate completed projects from current ones.
  • Add tags and/or colour coding to your folders on your PC (third party software may be required for colour coding)
  • Right-click your folder or file on your Mac and apply a colour or add keywords under Spotlight Comments

Now, if you're a solopreneur, I recommend starting with at least four project based folders using Documents or My Documents (depending on your operating system) as the sole location for these files and folders.  This presumes you're not using a file server, and my suggested file names include:

  • Completed Projects
  • Current Projects
  • Future Projects
  • Prospect Proposals

Now that you understand your organization's document management policies, or you're in the process of creating one, it's also very important to sort and cull your documents on a regular basis. Sorting and culling your files includes moving folders/files from current to completed when appropriate, future to current, proposals to future, and so on.  Please remember, by culling, I do not mean delete! Depending on your industry, you are required by law to keep certain documents on file for a specific period of time.  The number most people bandy about is seven years; however, it is your responsibility to ascertain what the legislated requirement is for your company/industry.

To explore the deep, dark mysteries of file management further, here are a few links you may find useful:

Cross Platform:

Tagging Mac Fileshttp://macmost.com/tagging-files-with-spotlight-comments.html

Tagging Windows Files (Vista & 7)http://lifehacker.com/232891/tag-files-and-save-searches-in-windows-vista

In our next blog we will explore the importance of removing sensitive information from our files before passing them along to others via email, Sharepoint, Dropbox or some other file sharing vehicle.

Ensure Safe File Sharing: Sanitize!
A Place for Everything, and Everything In Its Plac...

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Comments 1

Guest - Margaret Harlos (website) on Tuesday, 31 May 2011 16:58

Love this. A must read

Love this. A must read
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