How much time do you spend trying to find files? How often does an all staff email go out requesting a file that may or may not have been checked out? When you can’t get at your business information in a timely fashion, you are at a disadvantage with respect to your competition. It really is that simple.
This blog post will help you get better at tracking files. By considering the following points, you will be able to evaluate your organization’s processes and make improvements based on your findings.
1.0 Benchmark your current file-tracking situation
To improve your file tracking, you have to first understand your current system and how it impacts your organization. To do that, consider the following questions:
1.1 Can you rank the efficiency of your organization’s ability to find files within a reasonable time frame?
- We are always able to find files
- We are usually able to find files
- We can find files most of the time
- Frequently we can’t locate files
- File retrieval is a major issue for us
1.2 What percentage of lost or missing files is typically found, and how long after they were initially requested?
1.3 At any given moment, how many files would it be impossible to locate within a reasonable timeframe?
2.0 Evaluate your current process
If you can’t find the files you need, chances are the trouble lies within the actual structure of your file tracking system—particularly how files are checked in and out and what happens after that. Ask the following questions:
2.1 What are the check-in/check-out standards for your files?
- The honor system
- We use charge out guides
2.2 How are lost or misplaced files currently identified as lost?
2.3 What typically happens when a file is lost or goes missing?
3.0 Consider the business impact
Does the ability to find a document or file have an impact beyond the file room? The answer is yes. To get a sense of the effect your current file tracking system is having on your organization, consider the following:
- When employees (RM and other) spend time tracking down lost or missing files, they can’t focus on their core duties. And those are often the responsibilities that advance the business.
- Employees who wait for documents are in a similar position: if they need to make critical business decisions, the information lag created by lost or missing files slows them down.
- This could create an environment where employees feel they need to create duplicate records for their own files. That could have an impact on your storage footprint.
4.0 Cover the record’s entire lifecycle
The right file tracking system should help you to track and manage a record or file throughout its lifecycle. If your current system measures up, it should:
- Provide a clear process for adding a file or record to your classification system.
- Include a records retention plan that notifies employees when documents are ready for disposal.
- Prepare you for audits and other investigations by allowing you to produce, at any given time, a complete and legally binding history of your files.