How NOT to organise your business files

Posted on Dec 29, 2020
By Kerry Anne Nelson
3 min read
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Managing business files is rarely a laughing matter. But today, we take a light-hearted look at how NOT to organise your business files.

If your business files are a mess, chances are your team and its key leaders are really struggling at work. In fact, 49% of workers said that an untidy workspace affects how they feel about going to work each day. The last thing you want is for the members of your team to feel dread about going to work because things are so stressful and chaotic.

victoria Business Training and processes

“Organize around business functions, not people. People come and go but the systems remain constant” Michael Gerber

Often the problem is simply a lack of a good business filing system, with all kinds of ad hoc systems invented and thrown together instead. When working with my clients, I’ve seen these very different systems firsthand, and I’ll tell you why it’s a little bit hilarious.

The “Secret Stash System”

The first one is the “Secret Stash” system. Now, this is where people tuck things away for themselves. Filing their own versions of documents on their desktop, or printing them out and putting them in their top drawer. Obviously, this means that no one knows where the original documents are. Everyone’s got their own versions, so things can become quite a mess.

The “Local Server System”

Another problem I’ve seen with online business filing is when people are using a Local Server instead of files in the cloud. This restricts access and creates real problems when people are trying to log into a document remotely. If it hasn’t been saved properly, or someone else has got the document open, it simply can’t be accessed or used to the best effect.

The “Maze System”

The most popular system of all! An interesting phenomenon I call “The Maze” system. This is where things are so completely chaotic people put things wherever they want to. At the time, it might make sense, but coming back to find the item again is almost impossible because it’s like sifting through a maze. This is hardly a business filing system at all!

The “Fresh Start System”

Of course, I’ve also seen the “Fresh Start” system. This is where people file for a few years, and their team is busy filing as well, all without a solid structure to guide them. They’ve got different people filing, making files, organising files …  eventually, it gets so messy, that they pack up from one platform and move to another. Getting a fresh start just to do it all again. It creates a legacy of mess.

The “Everything Folder”

Now here is a system I’ve actually seen only once, the “Everything Folder”. This is where at the end of every year, the business owner would pack everything up into one folder and call it “Everything”. Then the next year she would pack the files from that year up, and also put them into the same “Everything Folder”. An absolute disaster to try to find the files you need from previous years.

I hope that’s been helpful and a little bit of a laugh. I also hope it makes you stop and think about what is happening with your business filing system. Can you relate to any of those filing systems I’ve seen other business owners using? How are your files looking?

Let’s all get a great fresh start for next year!

Kerry Anne Nelson

About Kerry Anne Nelson

Kerry Anne Nelson is the founder of Operation Verve and is a qualified first-class Honours graduate with more than 8 years of experience in education.

Kerry Anne Nelson is a workplace processes architect and uses her Lean Six Sigma training to maximise her years of experience in business management, education, and team leadership to help clients achieve lasting business growth.