8 Ways to Improve Your File Management Strategy

8 Ways to Improve Your File Management Strategy

Do you sometimes have trouble finding that one document you need?  The massive explosion in the number of files and documents is reason enough to improve your company’s file management strategy. 

IDC estimates that in the year 2020, companies and individuals created a total of 64.2 trillion gigabytes of data. The company further predicts that the amount of data created will grow at a 23% compound annual rate from 2020 to 2025. Put another way, that’s 1.7MB of new data created every second.

Better organized files and folders make it easier to find the important information you need. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make file management more effective and more efficient. Read on to learn more.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Improving your file management strategy encourages productivity, improves efficiency, and increases business output.
  • To improve your file management strategy, start by storing your data in a single location and organizing it in hierarchical folders and subfolders.
  • Use filenames to describe file contents and establish a logical file naming system.
  • Track document versions and back up all files regularly.

Why Improving Your File Management Strategy is Important

File management – sometimes called document management – is an integral part of the business process. Efficient file management involves the systematic organization of files and documents in a manner that:

  • Encourages productivity
  • Improves efficiency
  • Ensures the fast delivery of quality service and products
  • Increases business output

Improving your company’s file management helps you find that specific file or piece of information when you need it and reduces the risk of lost or misplaced files. It also saves your company time and money because you’re not wasting time looking for files.

How to Improve Your File Management Strategy

If you or your staff have trouble finding essential files when you need them the most, you need to improve your file management strategy. The following tips, when used correctly, will ensure that your important files are always within reach and that you’ll never lose a critical file again. This will maximize the efficiency of your business and help cut operating costs by thousands of dollars per employee per year. 

1. Store Data in a Single Location 

The first step to efficient file management is to store all your important documents in a single, easily accessible folder, and in subfolders beneath that. 

Having multiple folders stored in multiple locations – whether on a single computer, your network server, or in the cloud – only leads to confusion and makes documents harder to locate. Establish a single master location for all your files and then organize your documents within that.

2. Create Hierarchical Folders and Subfolders

Within that master folder, organize your documents into a hierarchical system of subfolders. You want to arrange your files by category and assign each category to a subfolder. Then, create more specific subfolders within those subfolders for different users, document types, and the like. 

For example, if you’re a property owner, you might create subfolders for your different types of properties – land, apartments, homes, office buildings, and the like. Within each of these subfolders, you can create additional subfolders for types of documents or specific properties. 

Establishing a hierarchy of folders makes it easier to find individual documents than sorting through a much larger collection of loosely related documents in a single folder. Just click through the subfolders until you find the specific information you want.

Example of an hierarchical folder structure

3. Use Filenames to Describe File Contents

How you name your files is crucial to good file management. When you accurately and logically name your documents, files, and folders, you make it easy to determine what’s inside each item when users browse through them. 

4. Establish a Logical File Naming System

Not only should your folder and filenames describe the content within, but you also need to establish a standard way to name files and folders throughout your entire organization. Every branch, every department, and every individual should be required to conform to your established naming conventions.

There are lots of naming systems you can choose from. You can identify files by:

  • Date or year created
  • Employee name
  • Document type
  • Client name 

You can also name files by any combination of these or other factors, separating each identifier by a hyphen. So, a contract file created in the year 2022 by an employee named Smith might be named 2022-Smith-Contract01.doc.

Examples of different file naming systems

5. Prioritize Important Files

There will always be files you need to access constantly. There’s no reason to bury these files among a number of less consequential documents. Instead, make them pop first in an alphabetical list by adding any of these to the front of the filename:

  • A number “1”
  • The letters “AA”
  • A symbol, such as “!”

6. Use Shortcuts

Another way to speed up file retrieval is to create shortcuts to your most-used files and folders. A shortcut is an icon or link that you can place on your desktop to gain instant access to that item. Click the shortcut and the file or folder automatically opens. No tedious searching or browsing needed . 

7. Track Document Versions

It’s common for documents, especially those used in group projects, to go through some revisions. Problems ensue when you lose track of which version was created when and by whom, which can lead to you working on or using an earlier version instead of the latest one. 

The solution to this problem is to track document versions. You can do this manually by renaming each new version (with something like “REV01” at the end of the filename) as it’s created.

(The following video details the importance of version control in project management.)

8. Back Up Files Regularly

Finally, you need to regularly back up all your files to protect against accidental deletion, hardware failure, and attacks by malicious actors. While applications and operating systems can be easily reinstalled, lost files and data may be impossible to recover without a secure backup, either onsite or in the cloud.

Use FileCenter to Improve Your File Management Strategy

The easiest and most effective way to improve your file management strategy is to use file management software, such as FileCenter. File management software – sometimes called document management software (DMS) – helps you name and organize your files and folders for easy searching and secure storage. FileCenter’s DMS is easy to install and use and is compatible with all major cloud storage services.

Contact FileCenter today to learn more about how file management software can benefit your organization!