Designing a new filing system may seem like a daunting task! One of the most exhausting parts of filing system design is choosing shelving,  because shelving is available in so many different styles and these styles vary in significant ways.   

Making a mistake purchasing shelving can be very expensive since most companies penalize for returns.

To make matters worse, the problems are often not discovered until well into the project. When it finally is discovered, removing media and taking the units apart is very costly and time consuming.

Reversely, deciding to live with such a “big mistake” may result in years of hassle and even more expense.

Answering a number of questions upfront before making any shelving purchases will help avoid these perils.

1) What type of media will be filed on the units?

2) What is the height and depth of the media to be stored?

3) How many filing inches are required to accommodate existing media?

4) How many years of records/media do you plan on filing?

5) Does the company have any policies regarding these records?

6) Do the units need to be locked?

7) Do any laws exist regarding how the records must be stored?

8) How much floor space is available for the shelving units?

9) Is the planned location convenient to relevant work area?

10) Have you reviewed the work flow of the items to be stored on the shelving?

11) How many people will access the files at one time?

12) What are the requirements of the people accessing the records (height etc)?

13) What is the weight of the media to be stored on the shelving?

14) Can the floor handle the media plus shelving weight?

15) Are plans in place to no longer require these files within a time period?

16) What is the budget available for the shelving units?

-After you’ve compiled a list like the one mentioned above, the next step is to put the answers in order of highest priority to lowest. That way when reviewing shelving units you can eliminate the recommended solutions that are contrary to the most important issues you have uncovered.

For example, if a very small budget is allotted for the project, the more expensive movable shelving may not be a viable option.

-When you’ve finished compiling a list, prioritizing the answers and eliminating less viable shelving options, you are ready to talk to vendors. Following these steps can prepare you to make an informed decision about what is the best solution to fit your particular filing system needs.

You will know what questions to ask regarding shelving type recommendations made by the vendor.

-Finding a vendor willing to work with your requirements and not just trying to sell the most expensive units is also an important step towards having a smooth experience designing and purchasing a filing system.

-Choosing a company that handles a variety of shelving types will also insure you are not steered toward an inappropriate solution and stuck with unnecessary costs.

Read my article “How to Choose Shelving Type” for information regarding the various styles of shelving designed for file folders.

>Do you have additional questions that are important to answer before purchasing shelving?

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