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File Plan

Ana Canteli

Written by Ana Canteli on 19 June 2020

We know what it is to work with information and documentation regardless of the work we do.

From the businessman who runs a hardware store to the logistics manager of a canning company to the administrative officer of a teaching centre, to name a few examples. In most of these organizations, information is handled in different quantities, quality, and formats. Something that may not seems to be particularly important at first.

Each of the jobs mentioned above does various things: provide materials for domestic repairs, maintain and monitor distribution and storage channels, or manage the documentation that students and teachers generate. But over time, it can become essential. Especially when there is more than one information source, it could quickly become the source of many headaches. Because when faced with a complaint, a request, or even an inspection, how can we be sure that the information we provide is correct? How can we demonstrate that we have managed it correctly? In circumstances like these, it is when it can be interesting to have a file plan.

What is a File plan?

A file plan is a tool that provides effective management of all documents and records of the organization.

The file plan describes the organization of the records from when they are created or received in the electronic documents and records management system to the final disposal.

We understand by records those electronic documents that reflect the activities or events that occurred in the organization, and that will be considered as evidence. An object reaches the Record state when it is complete and will no longer be altered in time. When the state of an object is Record, it cannot be modified.

The filing plan project will contain the different documentary types, how they are identified, where they should be stored, how they should be indexed for retrieval, and specific information on approved final disposal for each electronic file. The disposition schedules serve to manage the contents when they have reached the end of their useful life according to rules, practices, or laws.

Why do you need a File plan?

The File Plan is a powerful archival instrument that, in document management, can provide a multitude of functional, operational, and strategic advantages.

Filling tasks become less tedious or difficult since the organization has a well-defined framework for action, which can be easily implemented in the entity's document management system. It makes it easier to know how to manage vital records, how to categorize or classify them. Finding or retrieving the information you need is no longer a problem since the File plan helps to define in detail how the contents of the organization are indexed. Also, users have the guarantee of integrity and continuity of the management planning, since the file plans are designed to overcome personnel changes while ensuring the maintenance of good practices. Without compromising the necessary flexibility, it must provide to adapt to the needs of all stakeholders and future changes.

Implementing a File plan project, in turn, offers tangible benefits such as saving time, reducing human error, or increasing the efficiency and productivity of human resources. Cost savings are also evident by reducing the need for storage space, procurement of material, and equipment for the physical archive. It even provides positive effects by reducing the risk of litigation, since one of the objectives for which any entity is interested in implementing one is to ensure legal and regulatory compliance. And it can even provide greater satisfaction to the client or stakeholders, due to the better performance of the staff. It facilitates the training of new personnel, in addition to being a source of intellectual capital.

Does my company need a File plan?

As often as in the case of any complex or important issue, the answer is: it depends. The core issue is to identify what problem is the file plan going to solve in my organization.

A File plan is an excellent management tool for providing control.

If the company is in trouble with document types, the staff do not know what to do with each type of document or have doubts about how to proceed with them (not to mention, if users access and work on documents and or discarded or obsolete versions, thinking they are appropriate). Then the time has probably come to carry out a File plan in our organization.

With it, your company will carry out an exhaustive audit on the complete life cycle of the electronic document and vital records. You will be able to control related security, indexing, categorization, and always cataloguing what to do with the documents or records at the end of their useful life, who is responsible, etc.

In any case, we must not lose sight of the drawbacks that such a management instrument can bring. To start with, the filling project involves the investment of time and resources both to start it and to keep it updated in the long term. It also requires commitment, both personally and corporate. And keep in mind that control can be a source of organizational rigidity.

The OpenKM Document Management System, with or without a file plan, can still be used by small or medium organizations to facilitate the coordination and communication of their staff and to improve their customer service using other features that OpenKM offers.

If you want to know more, ask for a personalized online demo.

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