6 Steps Toward Document Organization

Keeping an office organized will make it much easier for your business to stay on track with customer service, product shipments, paperwork and accounting functions. The amount of filing and paperwork the average business encounters in a day can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to become a chaotic mess. There are several ways to stay on top of your invoices, files and documents. By bringing clarity to the mess, you can better manage your business and reduce your stress levels. Here’s how to transform your document dilemma.

Step 1: Collect Your Materials

The easiest way to get on the path toward document organization is by investing in the tools you need to do the job. Smaller offices may need just a dedicated filing cabinet while large medical organizations need to purchase a healthcare document management software. Some of the basic organization materials include file folders, a filing cabinet, paper shredder, labels or label maker. The size and scope of your business will determine what kind of materials you need, and it is better to make one investment into an organized system than trying to piece-meal it together as you go.

Step 2: Determine Your Management System

Before you decide on how you intend to keep track of all the paperwork, you need to remember an important rule of organization. The few times a document has to change hands, the better and more efficient your system will be. Thanks to cloud-based systems, it is easy to access digital files rather than printing off and exchanging paperwork for correction or additional work. This greatly reduces the amount of physical paperwork that you have on hand. However, you may still need hard copies of certain documents, and this is where your system is important. Decide how you want your documents organized. If several people will be sorting through the files or looking for papers, this step is critical. Do you want files in alphabetical order? Do invoices need to be filed by date? Should there be different categories for types of documents? Whatever you decide to do with the hard copies of paperwork, you should continue the system with electronic records or documents.

Step 3: Start With Small Areas

It can be tempting to bring all of the paperwork into the conference room and have a massive filing party, but this isn’t going to be the most productive way to sort through what you have. Start in one area and move through all the paperwork before moving onto the next location. If you already have a filing cabinet on hand, clean this out first, as it gives you an area to move your organized paperwork into.

Step 4: Go Digital and Purge

Thanks to scanners and potentially unlimited digital storage, you may be able to get rid of a lot of your physical paperwork in exchange for digital files. Invoices, receipts, complaints and anything else you find lying around could be scanned and stored electronically. Many document storage systems have indexing options that make it easy to search for specific documents that have been stored, giving everyone easy access to what they need. Digitally store information and then purge the hard copies.

Step 5: Always Look for Improvements

The filing system that you devise may work for the documents you have on hard right now, but always keep scalability in mind. If your office expands or you bring on new clients, you will need to make sure that the organization process continues. You may have to adjust as your software systems change or as the types of documents change.

Step 6: Let It Go

Check with your tax attorney or accountant for guidance on how long to keep financial paperwork, but you may be able to let some of your documentation go after several years. This is more likely the case if you have digital copies that can be accessed down the road.

With these steps, you can have your office organized in no time. A little organization goes a long way in increasing efficiency and overall productivity.

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