In 2011 I also inherited a disorganized paper filing system that contained documents for the past 11 years! The beginning of a new year is a good time to start transitioning to a paperless system.
First, I reorganized the paper files, renaming and labeling as I thought logically necessary. I looked at every single document. I kept everything from the previous and current year, shredding most documents from years earlier than that, except for legal documents, contracts, etc.
Beginning Jan 1, 2013, I started parallel filing systems, paper and electronic, with the intention of going totally paperless in 2014. Maintaining paper and electronic files for an entire year allows you to see where you need to fine tune your electronic system as you work throughout the year. If you find you are having to go to your paper filing system to find something quickly, then your electronic system needs some improvement.
This year I have kept the paper documents in a simple A-Z file sorter in a desk drawer. The only paper documents I added to the existing filing system in file cabinets were legal documents, contracts, etc. In electronic filing, everything coming in and going out is scanned. You have to pay attention when you are scanning; if the original is 2-sided then you need to scan it 2-sided. Also, it is vital to decide on a naming convention for all files and maintain consistency. This will help you find electronic files quickly. I start with broad topic folders, narrowing each sub-folder.
Example: Broad topic folders could be File Cabinet (documents), Payables (invoices). The next sub-folders would be business/vendor names or categories. The next sub-folders would be the year.
At the end of this year, I will go through all the documents in the A-Z paper system. I will be looking for anything of which I need to keep an original or hard copy. Those items will be added to the old filing system in the file cabinets, everything else will be trashed . Additionally, I will reevaluate the folders in the filing cabinets, archiving or trashing folders that are no longer needed. Over time your paper files should get smaller and smaller.
Beginning Jan 1, 2014, I will be able to go totally paperless because I have established a thorough, workable electronic filing system.
The same process can be used for shared files. Be sure others understand your naming convention to be able to find files on their own easily. One last tip: I name individual files with enough of a description to recognize if it has been misfiled, without having to open and examine the document itself.
Example, if the filename is: Exec Suites Cleaning_060114
This filename tells me that this is an invoice for the company that cleans our offices and the invoice date is June 1, 2014.
Best of luck, Robin. I hope this helps you. Going paperless is a worthy endeavor.
Jacqulyn Hudgins, CAP-OM
Executive Assistant to Executive Chairman
Range Resources Corporation
Fort Worth, TX
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