We often hear the project team or manager complain about the lost file and everyone spends a lot of time searching for it. They might be in storage or they have been sitting on someone’s desk underneath the pile of other documents. Even if you have found the document, it probably is the wrong version!

Unorganised DM System

Some document will require constantly auditing from different parties – from the operation to account department. In this process, the document might have been transferred back and forth multiple times. During this auditing process, it has created multiple versions.

No central control

In most cases, the document management process is handling by the team member themselves. There is no centralised regulations to control the document management process. Therefore, everyone takes control of these files and managed the way they “think” what is correct.

Lack of scientific classification of the files

The so-called scientific classification of the files is to be classified by international practice rules, and also according to the company’s requirements. For example, to create a proper categorisation system, the company should take into consideration of not only current workflow but also the future development and prospective.

No completed indexing system

If the file has been indexed but no one can locate it, then the indexing process is not completed. The principle of file management is that anyone can find the document according to the company’s DM regulations.

Lack of file management system

Whether it is a small business or large organisation, the file management system should be established and conducted in the beginning. The system is including identify indexing regulations, version control, retention period and destruction.

File management system

In a company, the document management process should not be handled by a newbie. It should be controlled by a senior member who has enough experience, can oversee the company structure and understand the company’s current workflow, organizational culture, history and future prospect.

1. Create an organisation chart

For the identification of business files, the first step is to establish the company’s organizational chart. From the organization chart, it is easier to glimpse the entire business routine and workflow.

2. Create a list of company documents

(1) Difference departments should have a list of their relevant document list. The document belongs to the same department should be kept together and sorted according to the regulation.

(2) File type – Document can sort by date or title and indexed by its type such as email, report, invoices etc.

Most of the time the common document types are: meeting minutes, correspondence letters, stock records, legal documents, financial documents and statistical information.

For sophisticated indexing system, there might be a further subcategorized level such as under accounting records there might be various financial statements, invoices, purchase order etc.

(3) File record label: Each filing cabinet should have labels marked outside the box and given a clear description. The description is including the name of the department, number of version, date of the filing document, the retention period and so on.

3. Set the file retention period and determine its date of destruction

Once the list of files are created, the next job is to carry out the identification of the file and its destruction. The retention period and destruction may vary from different companies. For some document type, it might have the government regulation for its retention period such as legal document. Therefore, the organisation should have a routine document review to check which document should go storage or destroy.