Do you have any existing articles on designing a filing system best for one’s small business? (My search turned up nothing.) More specifically, I want advice about archiving old files in a logical way such that finding them again would be intuitive, rather than require a detailed log of where everything ended up and why.
Ah, filing…the task that no one really wants to do, including me. Mundane as it may seem, it is so important to have an organized and logical way of filing otherwise you will run into major problems down the road.
I walk into offices all the time where several people have held a certain position, i.e. the accountant. Each person (mostly unorganized) had a different way of filing, none of which made sense to me, resulting in searching for days to find a single piece of paper.
This question may be a little difficult to answer depending on the type of business you run and what types of documents are generated. More and more, offices are turning to a paperless environment where everything is scanned and then put on disk. If you’re not quite ready for this type of technology, this is my suggestion.
For accounting files, do not set up vendors individually. In my opinion, this is a total waste of time spent filing alphabetically. Rather, file checks by month and run a check register to put on top of each month. You can always go into your accounting system and pull a register by vendor if needed.
Certain files are archived at the end of the year such as accounts payable, receivables, and client files. Other files such as employee documentation, administrative and banking and insurance files remain open for years. Set up manila folders with primary names and secondary names, for example Admin – Printing, Admin – Postage, Admin – Temp Service. Then you would have Banking, Employee, Tax, Insurance etc. Does this make sense? What we are trying to accomplish here is that you do not mix accounting information which will be closed at the end of the year, with every-day business information that could remain open for years.
When archiving your accounting and client information, and you are not paperless, I have found it is easiest to number boxes (banking boxes that are like drawers for easy access), create an excel spreadsheet and list what is in those boxes.