A filing cabinet typically refers to a piece of office furniture that stores files and documents. Filing cabinets come in different sizes. Some have locks to prevent unauthorized access, while other cabinets are easy to transport and accessible by anyone. Businesses with larges amounts of files, such as hospitals, law firms or schools, often maintain cabinets that cannot move easily.
There are multiple ways to file documents. To develop a systematic approach, you should analyze the information that will be stored within the files. Brainstorm different ways so that you can select the best method. For instance, if you keep records of automobile part suppliers, then you could file using an alphabetical approach based on company name. You also could establish a method to separate suppliers by region (e.g., South, West, East, International). If you are maintaining records of reptiles, then your method might involve organizing reptiles by their scientific names or by the date the file was created.
Once you design a satisfactory method, make sure to write it down so that other people can understand and follow the filing system. You also should ensure that files are properly preserved, because your system quickly will become ineffective if files are incomplete (e.g., missing data) or improperly stored (e.g., filing categories ignored). For instance, if you are separating genders by color, then people who create files must remember to distinguish males and females.
You must anticipate growth and add extra cabinets or space as needed. Otherwise, records will be stuffed too tightly. Also consider how to differentiate active from inactive files and, if applicable, when to destroy or shred inactive files.
Many businesses implement document organization systems that use original documents or hard copies. However, before creating a new filing system, you should explore virtual options. For example, you could purchase a software program and input data into either an internal or web-based server. Even if you currently have a filing system, you should evaluate the time and cost of transferring data with the potential cost savings and efficiency of digital or web-based storage. Law firms that use Needles case management software might spend significant time transferring data, but once the system is fully functioning countless advantages exist, like the ability to access files from remote locations.
Maggie Gebremichael has been a freelance writer since 2002. She speaks Spanish fluently and resides in Texas. When she is not writing articles for eHow.com, Gebremichael loves to travel internationally and learn about different cultures. She obtained an undergraduate degree with a focus on anthropology and business from the University of Texas and enjoys writing about her various interests.