Four years ago I wrote about the business decision you needed to make about whether to store business information in paper format or in electronic format. Or both.
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.
Being able to find information you need when you need it is fundamental to the way you manage your business.
It doesn’t matter what your business does – whether you’re making pies, children’s’ clothes, iron gates or if you provide
Have you experienced one or more of these situations?
♦ Wasted time looking for information that you have filed “somewhere”?
♦ Got frustrated when you can’t find a paper or email that you know “is there somewhere”?
♦ Had to pay tax penalties because your missed a deadline due to inefficient business processes?
Did you read Lisa Martin’s story in the DominionPost recently? Her business GoFi8ure provides everyday bookkeeping and accounting support to small businesses before they get to the point of needing a full time office manager. GoFi8ure provides bookkeeping and other administrative services to free up small business owners to do what they do best – run the business.
Do you realise that everywhere you go you leave your digital footprint, i.e. the trail you leave about your activities on the Internet?
Some is content you actively produce—like your Facebook profile.
However you may not be aware of the cookies a site stores in your browser
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
All my email messages are still there and I can still see them. But the little line at the top of the screen says “not responding” and I’m getting tired of trying to make it respond.
I can get by though because I have a backup email system that contains all my email. I also have important messages saved in my directory structure. So I can find most of the emails I need.
What I am missing is the folder structure I had set up in my usual email (MS Outlook). In particular my “Action Required” folder where I saved anything that needed some action from me.. I don’t have that same folder structure in my backup system (Gmail). Now if I had only set that up before this happened …
Anyway, now it’s off to my IT support team to sort me out in Outlook so I don’t waste any more time searching for emails that require me to take some action. And when they’ve done their bit, I’ll set up a mirrored folder system in Gmail so I won’t have the same frustration next time. Maybe I’ll use the Gmail Priority Inbox system.
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.