#7 Preparing to File, Find and Share

In a previous post I stressed the importance of preparation before you attempt to implement a document management system. This post will be more of the same with a slight change in the emphasis. Our focus today will be upon preparing your system to file, find and share documents. It is so very easy, yet so very important. This step is at the very heart of everything. If done well, you will have just paved the way for everything which follows.

First, gather together the documents for the area of the business you have decided is your initial target. Now, look at each of those documents and answer the following questions:

1.      In which department does this document get filed?

Example: HR, Service, Sales, etc.

2.      What would you name the file drawer in which it will be found?

Example: Employee Records, Warranties, Leases, etc.

3.      What would you name the folder into which it would be placed?

Example: Employee Name, Vendor Name, Job Name, etc.

4.      What is the name of each document that would go into the same folder?

Example: W4, Sale’s Agreement, Commission Form, etc.

The objective is to translate what the client does now and build an electronic system to match. Do not reinvent what the client is already doing unless you know that what is currently done is not working. Go from the general to the specific. Here is an example:


Once you have completed this simple exercise be sure your client keeps the results. If they provide you with this information you will be able to create a system without asking question after question.

There is one more critical piece of information you still need. How would your client like to find each document? It is easy to find the right file drawer, now the search needs to be further narrowed. Here are some examples so you may understand the thought process for setting each search criteria.

Let’s say I want to look up all the sales Bill made in April of 2010. It is clear I need to go to the sale’s file cabinet and in this example, it is also clear that I will need two more components to complete my search.

1.      Employee name

2.      Date

With this information I can get right to Bill’s month of April, 2010 and pull up all the documents within that folder. Now I can quickly pull up just the sales data. Unlike your paper file drawers, the file never leaves the drawer, nor can it be accidentally misfiled. Let’s look at another example.

Frank needs to find the invoice for King Manufacturing. In this example there are a few more options which will make sense depending upon the manner in which his company does business. Let’s look at a few options.

1.      Customer Name

2.      Invoice Date

3.      Job Number

4.      Customer Number

As you can see, the search criteria change depending upon the department and how his company files documents.


Do not attempt to list all the ways a document can be found. Just a few key search phrases are all that is necessary. Secondly, full OCR (optical character recognition) is not a good way to file or search for documents. Obviously it is slow because it has to read and search entire documents for key words. It is inaccurate. Even if 90% of the data is perfect, which 10% are you willing to lose? You will want simple, specific criteria by which, you file and search for your documents.



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