Document Organization – A Key Task for Document Management | 2018
You cannot manage a large volume of documents unless you have organized them in some meaningful way. Document organization becomes even more helpful if they are organized in ways that people naturally tend to look for them. For example, if concerned persons tend to look for invoices by customer names, invoices are best organized by customer names.
What Does Document Organization Involve?
Document organization typically involves the following elements:
- Deciding on a scheme of organizing documents. As already indicated, the best way to do this is to look at how concerned persons tend to look for each kind of document.
- Sorting documents into appropriate classes under the organization scheme. This is best done by a trained person who knows the significance of the organization scheme. There should also be a document that clearly spells out how the scheme operates in practice, so that people who have to do the sorting get clear guidance.
- Storing the sorted documents into appropriately labeled folders that can be paperboard folders or virtual folders on computer storage media.
The virtual folders created under the computer system have several advantages.
- Folders can be created in a few seconds
- You can also create subfolders and sub-subfolders to make it easier to understand the nature of documents even better. It does not matter that a particular folder or subfolder contains only a single document
- You don’t have to spend money for buying paperboard folders, and for filing cabinets to store the folders, and so on.
How Do People Tend to Look for Documents?
We mentioned above that the best scheme of document organization will follow the way people naturally tend to look for documents. This is simple concept in theory but quite difficult to determine in practice.
Different people might look the same document in different ways. Take the example of the invoice we mentioned earlier. We assumed that people will tend to look for invoices by customer names. Actually, a marketing manager might want to find invoices by product lines, and the accountant might be interested in getting the invoices for a particular month.
The typical practice is hence to organize documents under multiple criteria, sometimes combing several criteria to identify a unique document. It is also possible to create a unique id for each document of a type, as when we number invoices serially.
Look at all the ways people might look to find a document and decide upon a scheme of organization that meets all or most of these needs.
Indexing and Searching
With the easy availability of powerful indexing and searching programs, these have become part of document management systems. You can index vast volumes of documents by different criteria, and then use the search programs to look for a document meeting a particular criterion or set of criteria.
Indexing programs create an index file linking documents and criteria. This index file can become quite large depending on the criterion selected. Thus full text indexing that makes it possible to look for any document by the words contained in it can lead to a huge index file.
A tag based indexing that uses tags created for each document can reduce the size of the index file dramatically, but would require automatic or manual creation of tags for each document.