In the first of a four-part blog series, we’ll focus our attention on the “lowly” color-coded folder. A staple of the records management world for many years, color coding has traditionally been used for a very specific function: helping to spot misfiled folders. However, as we’ll reveal in this blog series, color coding can be used in some unexpected ways to solve many more RIM challenges…
When you visit most doctor’s offices, one of the first things you’ll notice is the rainbow of colors – thousands of bright sticky labels affixed to folders of patient records.
Initially, this simple practice was designed to help staff members spot misfiled folders. A break in the color pattern raises an obvious flag that something is filed incorrectly. While most records managers would be familiar with this particular use for color coding, many are surprised to learn that there are other beneficial applications for the technique.
Color-coding offers much more than the prevention of misfiled records.
Traditionally, color-coding has been reserved for active files that require frequent retrieval. This is why it is commonly seen in industries such as healthcare, legal and finance. In these scenarios, color coding helps ensure that a file room – especially those that are accessed by multiple staff members – doesn’t fall into disarray through misfiling.
Over time, more and more organizations have realized that color coding can be used to overcome many other records management challenges. As these organizations have discovered, color coding delivers some very strategic benefits.
When applied correctly, color coding can support:
- Records retrieval and decision making: ensuring that you can quickly access the files you need to support critical, time-sensitive business activities such as mergers, acquisitions or legal discovery.
- Records retention and disposition: flagging files and folders to enable timely and accurate handling at the end of their lifecycle.
- Privacy and information security: in addition to avoiding misfiles, color coding can be used to avoid revealing sensitive information held within folders.
- Space management: color coding is an enabler for more efficient, high density storage solutions.
Clearly, these benefits go well beyond preventing misfiles. Who would have thought the lowly color coded folder could do all that? Over the years, TAB has helped our clients implement a variety of creative and effective color coding solutions. In our next three blog posts we’ll reveal some of these uses, showing how color coding can be used to help with records retrieval, retention and disposition, and privacy.