Five steps to end the "paperwork" - turning it into an organised and effective archive

How often do you feel frustrated when you cannot find a specific essential document to solve an unexpected situation that needs immediate resolution? This happens due to a lack of document organisation, or “paperwork”, in administrative jargon, which affects thousands of organisations - especially those of large dimensions and more bureaucratic, such as local authorities, hospitals or banking and insurance institutions.


At the moment, more than ever, information is seen as a key strategic resource. But reality shows us that there are numerous organisations which are faced with unruly systems and documentation formats, lacking rules and responsibilities for the files. At this level, we also need to destroy unnecessary information – when this isn’t done, it contributes towards the massive growth of the archive. This will, in turn, contribute toward the lack of space and infrastructure to support the archive itself. All these factors combined make it difficult to find certain documents and information which, in turn, increases response times.


There are enough reasons to support that companies implement an effective archive method, which will enable them to take full advantage of the information stored.

For example:

- Not having a concept of organisation for the file system will overload it, given the amount of information to be processed. The research will become more difficult, the space reduced, productivity will decrease and demotivation and stress will increase.

- The processing of information - a process that requires the selection, classification, organisation and file - consumes an average 25 percent of the available working time, a telling indicator of waste which highlights an inefficient file system;

- An inefficient archive compromise time, speed and the quality with which tasks are developed. Consequently, teams are demotivated and response times while performing tasks are compromised.


The following are five steps that promise to transform the maze of paperwork that usually piles up in the most remote locations into a functional set of organised documents, which we shall call "archive":

1. List the various documents in the work area and validate the need for their existence;

2. Assess the current legislation regarding the mandatory filing times for each type of document;

3. Categorise the archive according to the frequency of use, number of users, document size:

- "Suspended Folders" - documents frequently filed and consulted but with flexible volume and organisation;

- "Dossiers" - permanent archive consulted with medium frequency.

- File boxes - rarely used documents. This is an inactive file.

4. Set the archive rules by type of document necessary (responsibilities, time in archive, how long before destroying the archive, method for destroying it, etc).

5. Create standards for identifying the archive using visual management.


Once the standards are created, one must adjust the pre-defined standard for the archive according to new needs. 

Implementing an effective archive method will have an immediate impact in reducing time wasted looking for documents - which will automatically contribute for team motivation. Organisations will become more transparent, there will be more free space and they will also see the cost volume cut down.

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