Important Steps in an Office Filing Procedure
Filing procedure consists of a series of steps to be taken for the preservation and use of paper in an office. But filing procedure varies from organization to organization, according to the volume and complexity of the records and the service requirements. A carefully designed filing procedure is however, essential for all organizations.
The common steps found in all organizations are given below:
1. Order to File
All documents need not be filed because all papers are not equally important. Hence, a responsible officer should decide whether the record in question is to be preserved or not. Therefore, no document should be filed unless the concerned official orders it to be filed. He should write the order, sign it and put the date. Only such documents should be filed. All unnecessary documents, therefore, shall not get accumulated in the folders.
In preparing the record filing, the record clerk should read the paper and ascertain its filing classification. All related papers should also be attached to the main record. Ruth L.Moore house suggests that they should be stapled in the top left hand corner.
The papers should be then punched if they are to be fastened in files or folders. The record should be marked or indexing for classification with a colour pencil or by encircling key words or numbers on the record. If necessary, a cross-reference should also be made on the record.
3. Sorting and Filing
After coding, indexing and cross-referencing, the papers should be carefully filed in the correct classification. If necessary, the folders should be removed and opened flat and the latest record should be placed on the top. Chronological order is an accepted practice, because this would help the staff to locate the document easily in case of future reference.
4. Follow up Slip
Some documents — for instance purchase orders, bills for payments etc. require follow up action. The concerned executive should note the follow up instructions. The filing clerk should then prepare a follow up slip and should attach it to the relevant paper on files. An extra copy of such paper may be kept in the follow up file as a reminder so that the filing clerk can send the required paper to the concerned officer on the specified date.
Whenever any file needed by the executive for any reference, it should be removed from the cabinet only when a written requisition is sent by him. On receipt of the requisition, the filing clerk should prepare an “Out guide” or out card.
A notation should be made on the out card as to the date of withdrawal, the name of the person who has withdrawn the file and the approximate date by which it should be returned. The out card is put in the place of the file on the document in the folder, which is removed till the file, or the paper is returned back.
The records should be periodically verified say once in two weeks or once in a month and a list of overdue records or files is prepared. Requests should also be sent to the concerned officials who are keeping the file to return them.
6. Transfer Files
The documents are kept in the file for sometime according to the rotation policy of the organization. After their active life is over, they may not be frequently needed. When the life of a document is permanently over and will no longer be required, it can be destroyed. However, certain documents may be alive but they may not be frequently required. Such files or folders or documents can be transferred and stored in a clean dust proof manner.
Some documents due to their legal requirements or active use should be retained for a long period. The management should therefore lay down a definite policy of records retention and destruction.