My mother is 93 and living in a rest home. I’m not terribly happy with her situation and I’ve been reading Atul Gawande’s book “Being Mortal” looking for better options for people like her. I was surprised in the first few chapters to find some similarities with business information systems.
You’ve heard of the ‘Cloud’ and probably wonder what it’s all about. Although at a basic level it’s really only another term for ‘Internet,’ the ‘Cloud’ is a way of storing information resources so that they can be easily accessed and shared when you’re away from the office. Another major benefit is
A structured electronic filing environment works better than having a ‘bucket’ of items that you search right through to find the item you want
What does this mean and what is the difference?
I’ve never been a great fan of electronic document management systems. I can see how they can be useful but I’ve seen a lot that, in spite of hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to install them, are not used effectively because the people who are expected to use them find them too hard.
Now there are many reasons for this and it’s not always the fault of the system itself.
If you’ve been following my blog you will know that I am keen to help businesses and government organizations to manage their business documents so they can find the one document they need when they need it. Now! Not half an hour after a crucial business meeting starts, or
Sarah recently gave some advice to a couple of clients and asked me for my thoughts. She suggested that electronic filing is CRUCIALLY about “levels of access” – designing your folder structure around “security clearance levels” works best. So you start by working out what is “confidential inner-management ONLY” (e.g. Strategy & Planning), what is
One of the biggest issues I find when I’m setting up systems and processes for small businesses is that no matter how well the systems and processes are designed, no matter how easy it is to use them, we still get people who save their my work to “My Documents” or the “Desktop”.
Why do they do this? Well I figure it’s because its the easy and lazy way out; that when people create a new document or spreadsheet they start working in it straight away and only think to save it at the end of the day or when they have to run for a train or bus to go home or at some other time when they need to leave their desks – for a meeting say or to go to lunch.
At that time they look at the clock and think “Oh *<#^! where should I save this work. Oh I don’t have time to think about that.” So the item being worked on gets dumped in a hurry on to the desktop or in My Documents because that is the quickest thing they can think of.
Next time they go to look for that item, it’s not in the proper place in the directory structure or file plan. So they waste searching for it, and get frustrated along the way.
We all do that at some time. But there is a better way.
You need to learn a new habit. OK – I know! But don’t turn off and leave this page right now because the new habit I want you to create is actually quite easy.
When you create a new document save it straight away to the proper place in your directory structure. Do this before you start putting any content into it.
Then next time you want to edit it or add to it, you can find it right away because its saved in the correct place.
Remember it takes time to create a new habit so you might have to do this a number of times before it comes naturally. But it will be worth it and I can guarantee that it will save you time. You’ll no longer waste time searching for documents you’ve saved “somewhere” and either ruining your eyesight peering at your desktop screen trying to find the title of the document you’re working on or scrolling up and down your My Documents folder searching for that document ( What did I call that document?)
Using standardised titles for naming your documents will help – that’s another story for another day.
Meantime the time you save by not searching for those stray documents so you increase your productivity and cut your stress levels
In New Zealand for small businesses (and not so small) it’s all about EOY – or end of financial year – at the moment and advice is pouring in from experts on how to deal with your particular EOY issues. For example:
Gaylene Hughes at JDI Business Coaching offers her tips for EOY accounting processes. Other accountants are also advising their clients on how to improve their EOY processes.
Phil Astley points out a number of cardinal errors made by small business owners either through the box of papers or even with an accounting system.
What is missing from these and other commentators is help with organising all this financial information so you can store it in a way that makes it quick and easy for you to locate everything you need when you’re preparing to take it all to your accountant.
That’s where we come in.
At Terrace Consulting we specialise in helping businesses to organise their office mess and to sort out their files, either paper or electronic – or both. We can save you money that you would normally pay your accountant because with our help your EOY documentation is in order before it gets to your accountant.
This means that our clients can get on with their money-making work to produce their profit, knowing that they will be able to find the information they need when they need it. No more wasted time searching for information that hasn’t been organised properly or has been saved in a hurry – somewhere!
Contact us today so you too can benefit from our 20-plus years experience working with businesses of varying types and sizes to organise their information. We can work with you in person, by email, phone or skype. Alternatively you can DIY with our step-by-step workbook “Keeping Good Records for Small Businesses”
Let us do what we do best so you can get on and do what you do best. You’ve got nothing to lose and lots of time to gain
You can improve the way your office operates by creating efficient access to all the information that you use in your business.
Information, both electronic and hard copy, is the cornerstone of your business. No matter what your business is you need information about stock, designs and other intellectual property, cash flow, staff, client and supplier contacts, business plans; in fact all the knowledge that is held by your business in paper files or electronic documents and systems.
Not knowing where to find all this valuable information, or being unable to access it quickly when needed, can result in loss of contracts and lower profits.
You and your staff need to get at important information quickly and efficiently
If only one person knows where and how information is filed, other people in your business won’t be able to access it when that key person is unavailable
Your systems and processes for keeping business records will reflect the information flow and ensure that everyone is able to work efficiently. This in turn will improve productivity and thus increase profits.
Think about this…
- How you lost a contract because you couldn’t find a key tender document in time for a meeting
- The complaints from your team because they couldn’t find something someone else had filed
- Information you can’t find after you have filed it
- An important email that was deleted in error or lost in the thousands of emails in your inbox
- The tax payment you missed and penalty you had to pay because you couldn’t find the reminder from your accountant
When was the last time you were in one of these situations? You need to organise our business information so you can find what you need when you need it.
Our e-workbook is here to help you. This step-by-step instruction book will give you the tools you need to build your own system for keeping your business information under control. It won’t take you long and will save your heaps of time and money currently lost in unproductive searching for information.
Don’t waste any more time searching for elusive documents or files. Create your own filing system using our instructional workbook. Available online now.
You can read more hints and tips to improve your business in the free eBook.