Filing systems establish office procedures that organize information according to consistent rules that make it easy to find information. Filing systems organize documents that other individuals and organizations send to the company, records of the company’s internal activities and records of information that the company sends to other companies and individuals.
Inbox and Outbox
The outbox holds outgoing documents before they are distributed. Outgoing documents include outgoing mail, faxes or documents to scan and send in email to entities outside the organization. The inbox holds incoming documents before they are filed or distributed internally. These documents include memos; documents that detail a new project, initiative or client; and documents that come in the mail. Some inboxes have two sections. One section holds documents that have existing files and another section holds documents that need a new file.
Files and Categories
Files are folders that hold information that belongs together according to name, date, subject, location, project or other data. Multiple files are grouped by categories. Often these categories are assigned a color and color-coded folders or stickers are used for easy reference to these categories. Filing systems establish the logical placement of individual files within a category. For example, a doctor’s office may have color-coded categories that correspond with each letter of the alphabet for patient last names. Other filing systems arrange files by subject, numerical, geographical and chronological categories and positions.
Incoming mail is stored in files that pertain to the information on the documents. Companies put copies of responses to incoming mail in the same file as the original incoming documents. Some companies stamp photocopies of completed responses to distinguish them from responses that are not yet delivered. Likewise, photocopies of outgoing documents are stored in files that pertain to information on the documents, and stored in the same file as any response that the company receives to those documents.
The inbox holds documents that are distributed within an organization including mail for individual employees, memos and other physical documents that individual employees receive. Internal inbox documents are distributed to employees by placing the documents in employee drop boxes, and sometimes by scanning or faxing the document to remote employees.
If there is no existing file that logically corresponds with a new document then a new file is created to store it. Likewise, a new category is created for a new document if there is no existing category that fits with the document. File keys provide an index for a filing system. File keys list and codify all the categories in a filing system, and indicate how information is organized within each category. Any time a new category is created, the file key is updated and distributed to the rest of the staff or displayed at a central reference point.