The Process for Digital File Organization
The following steps were designed to help organizations not only improve how they are organizing electronic information, but also overall records management. Each step varies in time depending on the size of the organization and the size/amount of information.
Step 1: Assessment and Analysis
The first step is to understand how documents are being currently managed electronically. This step entails informational interviews with IT support staff, management and key users to understand the following:
- Current IT systems; what data type is being stored and understand capabilities and functionality as it relates to saving, managing and tracking electronic documents
- Review current shared drives and cloud-based applications (e.g. SharePoint, Google Drive, DropBox, Box, etc.) to understand current structure, content stored, user filing habits and challenges
- Review official paper files; interview key individuals and understand more issues surrounding paper files, paper flow and document management
Step 2: File Structure Organization and Guidelines
Develop a File Structure
Officiency works with identified staff to develop a file structure and outline. Once reviewed and approved, then existing documents can be moved into the new file structure.
The entire process takes from one to multiple days, depending on the complexity of the file structure, size of the organization, and amount of data. Meetings (usually 4 to 8 hours) are scheduled with each division/ branch of an organization. During these facilitated sessions, electronic documents and files will be physically moved into the new file structure.
Records management guidelines are developed and documented by Officiency that include:
- Defining the folder and sub-folder hierarchy structure from the first through fourth level folders
- Clarifying the types of documents and information that are located in each line of folders
- Identifying specific document naming conventions
- Determining record retention guidelines of files based on government mandates and organizational history (this is done in conjunction with organization's record retention guidelines and policy, if known)
- Identifying which documents need to have files saved in paper format
- Defining permissions with files based on access, privacy and confidentiality
There are always files that contain unknown documents that might require more research and time to determine use and value. These files will be assigned to team members to review and manage at a later time.
Step 3: Training for Employees
Training is provided for all personnel to learn the new electronic file structure and guidelines. Objectives include:
- Record management basics and the responsibility of users
- Review of the new file structure and guidelines
- Review best practices of managing data, documents and information
- Learn strategies for becoming paperless
- Assignment of deadline dates to moving, purging and renaming electronic files from personal or local drives (i.e. C or H drives)
- Address staff specific staff questions and issues, as it relates to records management, electronic file structure and managing information
Step 4: Follow-up
Officiency can provide follow-up services that ensure the electronic systems designed are working properly and any outstanding action items or issues have been resolved. Consultants can also work one-on-one with key individuals to help them specifically convert necessary documents to a paperless process. The follow-up process is to ensure that staff have adopted the new system to managing information and feel comfortable in using the systems and structure provided.