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How To Organize Electronic Files

Transitioning from paper files to an electronic system can be tricky. Here are a couple of tips on how to organize electronic files.

If your office is making the switch from traditional paper filing to an electronic system, you may be wondering how to organize electronic files. Here are a couple of tips to help you get your department set up with an electronic filing system.

Naming Conventions
One of the easiest ways to lose track of your files is by neglecting to use a standard method to name them. This is especially important when files will need to be accessed by more than one employee. Many companies will use abbreviations describing the document followed by a date code. Depending on which department and what industry you work in, this will obviously vary quite a bit. For example, if you are filing a contract for a client named "Acme Widgets" today, you may name the document something like "con-acme-20140424.pdf". This naming convention tells you the type of document it is, the client it refers to and the date it was created. The date portion is important to include to help keep track of different versions of documents. It is also common practice to enforce the "lowercase, no space" rule to keep everything uniform. Here is some more information on naming conventions for electronic files.

Folder Hierarchy
Using a standard naming convention when saving your individual documents is important, but what makes finding files even quicker and easier is organizing your electronic system into appropriate folders. Again, depending on your area of business, this will vary quite a bit from department to department. Many companies like to organize their filing system by client and document type. For example, that same contract could be saved in a folder structure such as this: clients > acme-widgets > contracts. "clients" would be your top level folder that holds another folder called "acme-widgets". Inside the "acme-widgets" folder would be another folder for "contracts". Your contract document would be filed there.

Metadata-based Systems
Metadata-based filing systems make the above tasks incredibly simple. Instead of worrying about enforcing naming conventions every time you add a new file to the system, simply "index" it. These systems index your documents with metadata properties that categorize them. For example, Client = Acme Widgets, Document Type = Contract, Date Modified = 04/24/2014. When saving the document in the system, you would simply select or enter the client name and document type, then the system files that document automatically in the correct location. Best of all, when you want to find that document later, simply do an index search instead of drilling down through a bunch of folders. For example, enter "Acme Widgets" in the Client search box to pull up all documents related to that client; or add "Contract" in the Document Type search box as well to filter the results to just contracts from that specific client. You can also enter a date range to narrow things down even further.

Filing in the Cloud
Cloud filing systems have become very popular in recent years. They are electronic filing systems that are hosted on a web server. You access your online filing cabinet by simply logging in from any web browser. The system is implemented, updated and managed by a service provider. Most companies pay for the service by monthly or annual subscription. The benefits are pretty amazing:

  • Access files securely from anywhere, at any time
  • Share documents securely online
  • No IT team required on your end

DynaFile is a metadata-based cloud filing system. It keeps your documents filed in the correct location and makes it easy to find them later on. Rigorous security protects your files and even gives you control over exactly who can access which documents to maintain compliance around protected information. You can access your files from anywhere, collaborate on documents online, get agreements signed with esignatures and much more. Contact us today for more info!

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