File Management Practices Every Small Business Owner Must Follow
Your small business will generate a substantial amount of documents that must be stored for internal operations, client reference purposes, or government regulations compliance. Before, business owners typically relied on filing cabinets lined at their office’s walls. However, as technology has developed, so have document and file management methods. However, while document and file management might seem straightforward, there is often more to it than meets the eye.
Understanding how to properly store and organize your important files is critical to keeping your small business documents secure, accessible, and adaptable to your immediate needs.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of effective file management and the best practices small businesses must do to ensure that your company operations are streamlined, your important files can be easily retrieved, and that files are secure. Read on to learn more.
5 Benefits Of An Effective File Management System
An effective document and file management system provides countless benefits to businesses of all types, regardless of whether you’re document light or document-ladened.
Here are five benefits of an effective file management system.
1. Centralized Repository
Imagine accessing any document from any filing cabinet or local computer across your entire organization in a short amount of time. Yes, without having to sift through big, bulky piles of documents and folders. That’s the main benefit of an organized file management system. Implementing this system in your small business allows file access to be a more centralized, hassle-free searchable repository of all your documents.
If your files and documents are organized, there’s significantly less risk of losing, misplacing, or accidentally spilling coffee on the document.
2. Controlled accessibility
Centralizing all your documents into one digital or physical location allows you to control who can access which documents. There is digital document management that will enable users to set up file management software with unique protocols and access requirements on individual documents. These requirements can help you ensure your staff have access to everything they need without giving them access to everything.
3. Easy dissemination
Having all your documents in a single digital repository or placed in one designated and organized physical filing location makes it incredibly easy to share.This is great for big files such as long legal documents or in-depth manuals. You’ll want to establish communication strategies when sharing specific files and documents, especially sensitive ones.
4. Hassle-free and on-the-go collaboration
A great document management tip is to start digitizing most of your important documents. Digitizing your documents encourages your staff and clients to conduct business anytime, anywhere. Document management systems have digital signing or authentication features as official as signing a copy in person.This collaboration saves you and your clients from printing, signing, scanning, and sending documents. In addition, removing postage and other paper-based postal fees could be a great way to save resources. This solution is excellent for people on the go.
5. Enhanced security
While you can establish unique protocols to customize document access for employees and staff, you’ll also need security to protect your document library from hackers and data breaches. In a physical file management setup, securing confidential documents is much easier if they’re labeled and organized in one designated place.
Most providers implement varying encryption best practices that keep your documents even more secure than the safest filing cabinet.
Effective File Management Best Practices for Small Business
Here are seven ways to manage your documents and files efficiently and effectively:
1. Avoid saving unnecessary documents.
Stop making a habit of saving everything that gets to your table. Take a few seconds to glance through the content, and keep a file only if it’s relevant to your business or required by your work. Having too many unnecessary documents adds to the clutter and makes it harder to find things in the future.
2. Follow a consistent method for naming your files and folders.
Divide the main folder into subfolders for customers, suppliers, and your employees. Use shortened names to identify what or who the folders are designated. You can even employ color coding to make identifying different categories of folders easier.
3. Store related documents together, whatever their type.
Store letters, reports, official memos and documents, spreadsheets, and graphics related to a specific project in a one folder – instead of having one folder for presentations for all projects. That way, you’ll find documents for a particular project much easier and faster.
4. Separate ongoing work from completed work.
Some business owners prefer to keep current or ongoing work on their desk or computer desktop until it is completed. Then, once it's done, they move it to the appropriate location, where files of the same category are stored. At periodic intervals (for example, weekly or every two weeks), move files you’re no longer working on to the folders where your completed work is stored.
5. Avoid overfilling folders.
If you have many files in one folder or a large number of subfolders in the main folder, break them into smaller groups. For instance, you could divide a folder called “Marketing Plan” into subfolders called “MP001," “MP002,” and “MP003." In the same way, you can divide a folder for a client named Safeway into subfolders named “Safeway Sales Report” and “Safeway Contracts.” The concept is to place every file into a logical folder or subfolder rather than having one huge file list.
6. Organize documents by date.
Make sure that the date of a document is clear and precise, by highlighting it or adding it to a paper document, or including it in the title of a digital file. This way will help you organize your documents chronologically, without having to open each one. You’ll then be able to find them more easily.
7. Secure digital copies of paper documents.
This is helpful if you don’t have much physical space to store paper documents; you want to archive documents without completely eradicating them; you need to share documents electronically. However, for more important documents like legal contracts or documents with original signatures, you might want to avoid having a digital copy for security purposes. So use your best judgment here.
Migrating document and file management online for your small business is not only an important step to take, it also has essential best practices to follow. Following the abovementioned best practices for effective file management is a crucial step that will declutter your work space and keep your files secure and accessible when you need them.
Business documents pile up, and the opportunity for lost files or a lack of accountability in tracking is a threat in a paper-run world. However, setting up a paperless system takes planning and implementation.
Having a POS to store your most important small business files such as receipts, customer data, sales reports and analytics lets you rely on a cloud-based system to store, edit, manage, send, and track electronic information, from receipts to other sales-related data. If you’re a small business owner, having a reliable POS in your workspace is the digital answer to a secured and organized paper storage.
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