What is filing?
Filing can be described as the core of records management. The files of an organization are its memory and any malfunction of this memory will severely affect the overall efficiency of the organization.
For many years in most of the organizations, filing was not considered as an important activity and so untrained girls straight from schools were recruited for filing duties. But the situation has now changed.
Most modern management realized the need for an efficient filing system. Unless there is a well-trained supervisor, operating a sensible system of filing with right lines of equipment, chaos and confusion will prevail.
Meaning and Definition of Filing
J.C. Denyer gives a very simple definition for the term filing. According to J.C. Denyer,
filing is the process of arranging and storing records so that they can be located when required.
In the words of Leffingwell,
filing provides a means of preserving the records of business transactions. It is the process of arranging and sorting original records or copies of them that they can be readily located when required.
Zane K. Quible developed the most comprehensive definition. He says that filing is
one of the activities in records management programme, which involves systematically classifying, coding, arranging and placing records in storage.
From an analysis of all the definitions put forth, we can conclude that filing function has three important aspects. They are:
- Proper arrangement of records.
- Proper sorting of records.
- Easy availability of records.
Without these objects in view, filing system will not be useful and the organization will not function successfully.
Functions of Filing
A good filing system performs four important functions. They are as follows:
1. Library Function
Library function involves sorting and arranging the records for future reference.
2. Administrative Function
A good filing system performs certain administrative functions also. Administrative functions here imply maintaining, protecting and supplying the various documents to the management for developing the business policies.
3. Historical Function
Important records relating to the progress of the enterprise are preserved. These records clearly reveal the history of the organization.
4. Information Function
Various types of information for various uses and purposes are preserved and protected. Besides, they are also supplied to the users in times of need.
Advantages of a Good Filing System
A business firm derives various concrete advantages by adopting a suitable system of filing. They are mentioned below:
1. Documentary evidence
Files constitute valuable documentary evidence of the transactions. They will be very useful in case of any disputes, which may arise in future.
2. Valuable Assistance
Past records are valuable assistance to formulate new policies and programmes. Policies based on past experience will have greater realism in their approach.
3. No delay in handling correspondence
Correspondence can be handled properly without any delay. Systematic handling of correspondence will contribute to build up goodwill and reputation of the firm.
4. Control of Process
Process of control is greatly facilitated by a carefully devised system of filing. A check is kept on the incoming and outgoing letters and letters requiring action are thus disposed off quickly.
5. Protection of Records
Documents are protected against possible loss or damage. Some documents are to be preserved permanently. Particularly care must be taken in protecting documents like title deeds, agreements etc. Proper filing system ensures protection of all vital records.
6. Follow-up Measures
Follow up measures for sales are unthinkable without a good system of filing. When a firm introduces a new product in the market, it should approach its old customers and win their co-operation first. Price changes should also be informed to them promptly. All these activities are possible only when records are maintained properly.
7. Tracing of Reference is easy
Tracing out references with regard to various matters is facilitated by an efficient system of filing. This will avoid the need for duplicating or repeating such matters once again.
Essentials of a Good Filing System
There is no universal best system for filing for all kinds of office situations. The requirements of each office or section or department must be analyzed individually and a system best suitable to the concerned office or section should be devised.
While developing a filing system, the peculiar needs of the office organization and the dimensions of the office work should be considered. In spite of these limitations, authorities on the subject have suggested certain guidelines in designing a proper filing system. They may be stated as follows:
The first consideration is the space requirement. Most of the business offices are located in towns and cities where space is available only at a higher rent. Therefore, it is important that the filing system should not take up space unnecessarily.
The filing system should not be complex. It should be easy to understand and simple to operate. A system, which cannot be followed by the office staff, is likely to defeat its own purpose of quick reference. Moreover, operation of the system should not require any special training. This will add further expenditure and cause financial strain.
A filing system should be cost effective. In other words, the filing system should be economical to install and operate. The acceptable cost level may, however, vary with the type of record depending on the speed of retrieval required.
The records should be readily available to the people who use them. Whenever a paper has to be filed, the clerk should not find any difficulty in taking out or writing any note on it.
The filing system should be flexible or elastic. It should be capable of being expanded or contracted with requirements of time. While designing a filing system, the future needs of growth and expansion should be kept in mind. Otherwise the system will become less elastic.
6. Cross Reference
A record should be filed under a heading to which it relates. Some times, the same record may touch two different points and it cannot be filed in two different headings. In such a case, cross-reference should be given. If cross-reference is not given the filing clerk should take more time to trace out the concerned document in the other file where it is actually located.
While designing a filing system the possibility of providing facility for cross-reference must be considered. This applies particularly to records of correspondence.
It is necessary to employ the most suitable method of classification. Moreover, too many miscellaneous files and too much bulk must be avoided. This will help in locating the required files quickly.
8. Movement or Out Guide
Whenever a file or a letter from a file is removed, a guide or indicator should be inserted stating that the letter or file so removed, to whom it was sent etc. If possible the signature of the person to whom it was delivered should also be obtained. These out guides are necessary for a good filing system. Besides, they also enable easy tracing out and location of the records.
The records should be retained or discarded on the basis of their utility. Unwanted or unnecessary records should not be allowed to accumulate. If a record is no longer required, it should be destroyed. Only live material must be kept for the requisite length of time. There should be specific retention policy for this purpose.
The filing system should be one under which the safety of the documents from insects, dust, water, fires, theft etc. is ensured. Fireproof almirahs should be provided for valuable documents. Entry into the filing department should be restricted. Moreover, issue of files should be made only on the basis of requisition.
3 Essential Requirements of Filing
Filing provides a means of preserving records of business transactions. This is its original and still its principal use. To accomplish this purpose, a filing system should satisfy three conditions. The three essential conditions are as under:
1. Educated and Trained Supervision
It is already stated that filing was previously considered as an unimportant activity. But now the management has realized its importance and need. The filing work should be performed by specialists and supervised by educated and trained supervisors.
2. Standardized Procedure
The filing should be scientifically devised and standard procedure should be set out. No succeeding file clerk should be allowed to alter the procedure, which have been established and standardized.
3. Minimum Misfiling
The chief difficulty is not filing but finding. Misfiling causes delay in tracing out the location of the desired documents. To avoid misfiling, good training should be given to the filing force. No clerk should be permitted to file any material unless he has thoroughly mastered the filing system. In order to prevent misfiling, eminent authorities suggest the following steps.
1. There should be specific rules for filing. These rules should be followed without any deviation.
2. The filing system should be supplemented by a well-designed index plan.
3. A well-designed system of requisitioning files should be adopted.
- What is filing?
- Meaning and Definition of Filing
- Functions of Filing
- Advantages of a Good Filing System
- Essentials of a Good Filing System
- 3 Essential Requirements of Filing