All About File Management Systems for Enterprise
Until the 1960s, libraries still used card catalogs to index their collections.
While OCLC stopped printing card catalogs in 2015, some catalogs are still in use today, such as the card catalog at the Library of Congress.
What drove this once cutting-edge technology to the brink of extinction? As with all areas of industry and education, inefficient and cumbersome techniques have given way to more reliable and effective tools. In libraries, digital card catalogs quickly became the preferred method of looking up resources, and enterprise file management has followed a similar route.
File management used to exist primarily on paper, in another age when a physical filing cabinet was the most efficient way to store documents, and a lock and key was the most effective way to keep out interlopers. In the modern age, however, companies have better digital tools at their disposal. In this guide, you will learn what makes the needs of enterprise file management systems unique from consumer needs, some best practices for using a file management system, and what the best tools are for the job.
- Enterprises have unique file management needs from those of consumers.
- Best practices like deliberate tree structure and file naming conventions can help file management systems work for you.
- Document management software helps businesses make the most of their file management system.
What is a File Management System?
In the modern workplace, a file management system doesn’t refer to a box of documents or a room filled with filing cabinets but software that manages an organization’s documents.
This document management software should include features like remote accessibility, encrypted security, and document editing capabilities that help document management software (DMS) stand apart from physical file management systems.
Enterprise vs. Consumer File Management
As with most arenas of life, there’s a significant overlap between the needs of professionals and consumers. While the fundamentals of file management stay the same, there are unique considerations that businesses should consider when creating a file management system.
While keeping your personal information secure is important, security’s importance increases exponentially as more sensitive information is added to the equation. While consumers typically only have to consider the privacy of themselves and their loved ones, enterprise file management systems must consider the information of their clients, employees, vendors, and other entities.
Because of these considerations, consumer solutions are insufficient for managing enterprise files, and proprietary document management software is better for securing sensitive data.
No one is an island, and as more colleagues join your archipelago, collaboration becomes more important and difficult.
To solve this problem, file management systems for enterprise should allow authorized users to access and upload documents from any location over a secured network connection. This connectivity helps drive collaboration and improve communication across different departments, offices, or continents.
Have you ever titled a document “final draft” to find another change you needed to make? A few changes later, you have “final draft_2”, “final draft_2_final”, and “FINAL final draft_2_final.”
While that’s a nightmare for productivity, it’s also a nightmare in the making for whoever has to locate the true “final” version. While you may remember now, will you remember in 3 weeks? A year? 10 years?
Uniformity is another area where enterprise file management has elevated consumer needs. Multiple users working across multiple projects means that documents must be uniformly formatted and named to be visually consistent and accessible to any user.
A core pillar of your file management system is navigability. Your users have to be able to find what they’re looking for even when they don’t know what it’s called.
While other document management features like search tools can help users find documents, an ounce of prevention is often worth a pound of cure.
In document management, tree structure refers to the structuring of nested folders in logical categories and subcategories. There is no one right way to organize folders, but popular methods include organizing folders by department, topic, date, cost center, etc.
When you use file management systems for enterprise, you should try to balance intuitive organization with a rules-based tree structure so that users can easily find the document they’re looking for even without familiarity with your file management system.
File Naming Conventions
Just as tree structure helps users find categories of documents within folders, a consistent file naming convention helps users find individual files within those categories.
Some best practices for a file naming system are:
- Be consistent. Once you establish rules for how your organization names files, stick to those guidelines.
- Use YYYYMMDD. Americans typically format dates as “MM/DD/YYYY,” while users in other parts of the world write “DD/MM/YYYY.” While both conventions are perfectly logical and usable, a third format is better for file naming systems: “YYYYMMDD.” This allows you to view alphabetically sorted documents in order of date, as your system will always prioritize year, month, and day.
- Consider your unique needs. Depending on the nature of your organization, the types of data relevant to your file management system are flexible. Do you need to know from a glance who created a document? What serial number does it correspond to? What day did you create it? Include the most relevant information in your file naming system.
Document Management Software
The essential ingredient in your enterprise file management system is the right document management software.
Document management software such as FileCenter augments these best practices to give you, and your users enhanced functionality and improved user experience.
For example, a file naming system is important for enterprises, but document management software uses metadata to supplement the information contained in the title so that you can view information about authors, dates, and file types, as well as search and sort based on metadata.
FileCenter also empowers users to securely share encrypted documents with external users so you can safely transmit sensitive documents without fear of a data breach or lapse in privacy.
When it comes to enterprise file management systems, FileCenter is packed with the right tools to keep your operation efficient, secure, and productive. Whether you need to edit scanned documents, password-protect PDFs, convert between file types, or access your vital data remotely and securely, FileCenter can help.
To learn how FileCenter can revolutionize your file management system, start your free trial today.