How to file and find documents in 7 steps

How to file and find documents in 7 steps


Digitisation does not automatically mean that you will benefit from clear filing in the future

In many workplaces, cumbersome or chaotic document filing systems hamper work efficiency. Archiving in paper form has proven to be particularly inefficient. When you file a document, this manual act takes up unnecessary time. If you want to find documents again, you often waste time. There is therefore a lot to be said for comprehensive digitisation of document storage, which also saves you costs for paper, printers and archiving. 
But beware: Digitisation does not automatically mean that you will benefit from clear filing in the future. If you file documents unsystematically, there will be clutter on your computer or in your cloud. In this case, you will also have problems finding documents digitally. 
Take the following steps to heart in order to successfully digitise document management and archiving.

1. Think about a suitable folder structure before digitising

A structured approach is recommended when implementing a new digital document filing system. Some make the mistake of being motivated to scan documents and collect them on the desktop, for example. The result is that you have to sort them in a second step, which is time-consuming. 
Better create a user-friendly folder structure before filing the first document.

Consider which folders and folder names are appropriate for your purpose. Which folders are suitable for the first level? Which folder system do you want to implement in the subdirectories? Invest time in considering this, it's worth it. Subsequent restructuring means considerable effort.

2. Choose a specific folder system

There are a variety of filing systems that you can use in principle. It is important that you avoid the following mistakes:
  • The worst option is to store all documents on the desktop. You quickly lose track.
  • Also limit the number of folders. With too many folders, you no longer know where documents are located.
  • Also limit the number of levels. At best, you open a file within three clicks at the latest.
  • You should give the folders at all levels precise names.

3. Fill the new filing system with files

Now you can copy your documents into the individual folders or save them there. It is best to start with all the documents that you have in digital form. Copy all files on your computer, on an external hard drive and on mobile devices into the future digital filing system. Do you have document attachments in your e-mail inbox that you have not yet systematically saved? Add these to the file system as well.
Only then you should dedicate yourself to the documents in paper form. Scan these documents, one folder at a time. For example, start with invoices and then take care of other document types.

4. Maximize efficiency: extensively digitise documents

File all new documents directly in digital form - then you can easily find them again later
If you decide to use digital document management, you should gradually do away with physical documents completely. It is unavoidable that you will continue to receive individual invoices and other documents on paper. Retail sales receipts are an example. Digitise them immediately. You can use different software programs for this, good accounting software enables the digitisation of cash register receipts.
An additional advantage is that such an accounting program automatically enters the data into your financial accounting system.

5. Think of reliable protection for your data

With the digitisation of document storage you increase your efficiency and reduce your costs. Please note, however, that you must protect your files extensively. Data loss can have dire consequences for your organisation, with regular backups you can prevent this. 
Another danger is hacking, with effective protective measures you can avoid access by unauthorized third parties.

6. Organise and manage access rights to folders

Access rights should be clear and transparent. You should only allow access if employees need it for their work. Otherwise there is a risk of data leaks and data protection violations.

7. Use the support of professional document management providers

Digitising document storage is a complex process, as these step-by-step instructions make clear. But you are not on your own: Let specialists support you. Service providers like Ricoh offer you high-quality software solutions for digital document storage and actively support your digitisation with their expertise.

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