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The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Indexing for Filing System Efficiency and Retrieval

Getting organized to better manage what you keep is imperative, whether it be paper files, contents of binders, or what’s in the file room or boxes in the basement, so that retrieving an item in a timely manner is efficient. To be able to work more efficiently is simply less stressful!

Many companies have one or more administrative employees whose chief function is to manage company records, and is dependent on the person who knows the filing system. Thousands of hours are literally eaten up with filing and then trying to locate specific information at a later date because the system used for document management is so inefficient or outdated.

One of the chief reasons companies still suffer inefficient filing systems is that every employee is different. People have their own thoughts about what filing should be, and their own way of managing and naming their files. So you have a variety of different methods being used within one company. There has to be a better way to organize your filing cabinets into a uniform, logical style that is standardized throughout your business, regardless of the size company you have!

Some statistics say that about 7 percent of all documents are lost or misplaced and have to be reproduced. Experts estimate that about 150 hours of employee time per year are wasted trying to locate missing files or documents. And even more time and cost to recreate the necessary information! At $20 an hour on average—because all levels of employees are involved in this process—that can easily add up to $3,000 per year or more, that you can save simply by using file indexing, like Paper Tiger Filing System Software to manage your files more effectively and efficiently.

And no matter how many people have access to your file cabinet, maintaining an organized and efficient filing system can be accomplished. When you invest the time to index your hanging file folders into your Paper Tiger database, everyone given access will be able to conduct a Google-like search to find what they need quickly, and just as important, also be able to know exactly where it should be re-filed.

So you’re probably wondering, “How does an indexing system work to manage paper files?”

It’s quite simple really. With Paper Tiger, you allow employees the access they require, according to your own policies, to use the software. You and your staff need to agree on a records retention policy as a guideline for the types of paper files you retain, how you want records kept and how long certain files should be kept. This policy should also transfer to your digital files as well. We have several articles already on records retention guidelines that you can use to assist you.

Paper Tiger is a file indexing system for your paper files or other physical items that has a search engine built in so that lost information is virtually eliminated in your home or office. You can keep your paper in its original form, (you do not have to scan it), and index the paper files that you need to keep in hard copy format. You would simply type in the information into the database relating to your paper files, or other physical items, to get organized so that you can find what you need when you need it, without time-wasting searches. Company name, common subjects, or other descriptions can be typed into your Paper Tiger database. Whatever works for you. Use as many keywords as you like. Each employee that has access to the software can also add keywords that they relate to each document or set of relating files.

Paper Tiger software consists of the following levels:

  • Database which is a group of locations, categories and items.
  • Locations are made up of Item names, description, capacity and review frequency. Location could relate to where you will store your physical items or could relate to the types of physical items that you plan to index (paper files, books, CDs, DVDs, storage boxes, etc.) Your Locations can be named anything you want – however you relate to what you are indexing, i.e., Office files, Home files, Action files, Reference files, House, Basement, Garage, etc. Paper Tiger uses Locations to represent these places where you store the items you want to be able to find later. For example, your Reference files Location might contain an index of all files in your 5 file cabinets of 4 drawers each, and Item #1 in Paper Tiger starts with the documents in the first hanging file folder in file cabinet 1, and end with Item #500 in with all documents indexed from the last hanging file folder in file cabinet 5. Paper Tiger allows you to print cut-out tabs or Avery labels which you use to mark your physical items to match the index numbers assigned by Paper Tiger, i.e., Reference 1, Reference 2, Reference 3, etc. Each of these items correlating back to the Item Number in your Paper Tiger database.
  • Item Name is the descriptive name you input into your Paper Tiger database relating to a hanging folder or other item you are indexing. This Item Name might be what you would previously have input on the 2 inch tab of your hanging file folder. “Museum Board Directory” might be the Item Name you give a folder that contains a current phone and address list of museum board members. “Sales Reports” might be the Item Name you choose for a folder containing each regional sales report. A folder or Item Name labeled “Warranties” might include sub-files for “Electronics,” “Major Appliances,” and “Outdoor Equipment.” Your Item Name might also be the names of Books, CDs, DVDs, Collection Items, etc., within Locations under these. See also the Many Uses of The Paper Tiger. Note: multiple relating documents can be added to the same hanging folder. You do not need a different hanging folder for each piece of paper. Simply edit the existing item in Paper Tiger and add additional keywords as necessary when you’re adding a file.
  • Keywords: Type all keywords associated with the item, such as receipts or contracts or what the book is about, etc. When you need to find the item later, you can search by keyword. The more keywords you enter, the easier it will be to find the item later, simply because the name you think of today for the item, you might think it filed under a different name 6 months from now. After all, retrieval is the main goal when you file something away, right!? Sure you want to get the file off your desk, but you want your files organized in such a way that you can easily and quickly retrieve an item when it’s needed again.
  • Notes (optional): You can add additional comments in the Notes section if you wish. For example, you might add a note as to the next action you need to take for an item, such as follow up, or when you want to transfer to archives, or when you should shred, etc.
  • Category (optional): If the item falls into a category, tab to the Category field and type in or select a category you’ve already created from the drop-down box. Category is a word or words you may use to classify groups of related folders or items. For example, you may use the Category “Benefits” to classify the Folders, “401K,” “Stock Options,” and “Day Care.” The Category, “Services,” might include Folders for “Accountant,” “Graphic Artist,” and “Organizing Consultant.” The Category “Self-Help” might include all your books that relate to “self-help” or “motivation”.
  • Action Date (optional): If there is a future date in which you want to review this item, or if this item will require your action, tab to the Action Date field and type the date or click on the calendar to select a date. When you open or sign into Paper Tiger, you will be alerted that you have Reminders. You can also print an Action Date report for items in which you have set an action date.

When you’ve indexed your items into Paper Tiger, and you need to find something later, you simply conduct a Google-like search in Paper Tiger’s database to find where the item is located.

This solves problems with filing or finding any physical item, such as:

  • You can’t decide what to name something because it could be named so many different things;
  • You don’t like making new folders when you need to file; (Because the tabs are numbered, they never have to change. You can go ahead and input as many tabs as you want in a particular Location, and the file folders are ready for you to file.)
  • You can’t remember where or what name you filed something under previously;
  • Staff or family members sharing files or other items, everyone thinks differently and anyone can search a keyword;
  • Staff turnover or the one person that knows where everything is gets sick or is away for a time;
  • Organizing other physical items, such as contents of boxes so you don’t have to worry about being able to find items later;
  • Duplication of files are virtually eliminated. Documents relating to a topic already in file, can be placed in the same hanging file folder, and the item in Paper Tiger can be edited to add new keywords if necessary.

Life-Cycle File Management

It’s common knowledge that every document that comes into your office has to be managed in one of three ways.

  1. If no action required, it can be filed if needed for future reference, tax or legal reasons.
  2. It can be tossed or shredded, if not needed for future reference, tax or legal reasons.
  3. If action required, it can be dealt with immediately, can be delegated to someone or scheduled for future action.

The joy of indexing is that your filing cabinet now becomes your action file as well. You can create a file just for items that need action without forgetting where you put them, or failing to take action because you “forgot” about them. Then when you’re finished, you can move the file to an archive location or a more permanent file and leave an uncluttered desk ready for more important work. You can file it away and not have to worry about finding it later.

Once your projects are complete and files are no longer needed on a daily or weekly basis, they can easily be moved from your action file location to a reference file cabinet or archived in storage elsewhere. You can add, move, or delete items in your Paper Tiger database as needed to coincide with the action you’ve taken with the physical item, and a quick search in the database will tell you where they’re currently located, in case something needs to be retrieved later. Click here to see more information regarding how to manage Action Files.

In today’s society with constant Internet usage, video conferencing and urgent meetings are often called with little or no warning. Having an indexed file management system is ideal because you can quickly and easily retrieve every document in the office you need for an impromptu meeting or conference call. You’ll no longer be forced to make major decisions without having all the relevant information you need at hand. No more worrying about not being able to find a file because someone is out sick! Paper Tiger filing system software eliminates that problem.

Document indexing truly is efficient file management. It will save you time and money, and remember you’ll also be able to index other physical items such as office supplies, training manuals, books, CDs, DVDs, etc. Using Paper Tiger Filing System Software, you can index anything that you can put a number onto, (see Not Just For Filing Paper), so you can find anything anytime!


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