Tips for setting up an electronic filing system include purchasing a document scanner and scanner software, dedicating computer hard-drive space to mass storage and developing a filing system. In addition, you need to devise a system to back up and store data.
One of the first decisions in setting up an electronic filing system is how to digitize paper documents. You may be able to use a digital camera on a phone or tablet to photograph documents. If your office processes a high volume of paper, a document scanner is more convenient. Make sure the scanner you buy comes with software to run it.
Developing your filing system begins with naming the digital files. One useful convention is to begin the file name with the eight-digit date on which the file was created. Because the number of characters in file names is limited to about 35, choose the information that makes the file easiest to find.
Electronic filing schemas work nearly the same as physical ones and can be organized alphabetically, month, by fiscal year or by document type. Make your filing schema modular so it can grow with you. For instance, if you organize your files alphabetically, you can always add another “A” folder to your digital filing system.
If you can, dedicate one computer or drive to storing your digital files. As a safety measure, don’t put your data on the Internet unless you must, and use an office intranet to access your files. Perform regular backups to CD-ROM and off-site storage as well.