Posts Tagged ‘Filing System’

filing drawersYou currently have your files in some type of file drawers and you want to convert your files to open shelving.

Some reasons you want to convert may include:  cost of purchasing additional filing cabinets, size of existing filing system is increasing, want to improve visibility and accessibility of records, losing space for your existing records, etc.. You may just need more space!

Where do you start?

1) The first task is to figure out how much filing capacity you currently have by measuring existing used filing inches.  Take a measuring tape and measure from the beginning to the end of the folders in one drawer.  If all the drawers are similarly filled and the same size you can then multiply this measurement by the number of drawers. Different size drawers will need to be measured individually.  Add everything up and you know how many filing inches you are using for you files.

2)The next step is to figure out how much capacity you need for the open shelving.  If you are increasing the size of your system take the percentage of increase and add it to your existing filing inches.  This will give you how many filing inches you need in the open shelving.

Open shelving filing inches are easy to determine.  The width of each shelve tells you how many filing inches this shelf can hold.  For example:  a 36” wide, 7 shelve high unit has a capacity of 252 filing inches.

3)Now look at what type of folders are currently in the file drawers.  If your folders are side tab folders they can usually be used easily on open shelving.  But top tab folders are another matter.  The top tab is hard to see on open shelving and can sometimes be too high to fit in the space between two shelves (cutting off the top tab is a way to avoid purchasing all new folders).

4)Move the records from the drawers to your new open shelving.

open shelvingA couple different methods can be used to convert top tab drawer style records to open shelving.

A-Transfer the records into a side tab folder (this is a good time to add any planned color-coding)

B-Attach a 2-1/2” x 8” label to the side of the top tab folder to create a side tab (the top tab can be cut off if causes the folder to not fit on the shelf).

C-Move all the existing folders onto the new shelving and convert the records as they are accessed.

After making this change my guess is you will wonder why you did not make this change a long time ago!

For additional information about shelving read my articles  Stationary Shelving for File Folders and Movable Shelving for File Folders

Do you have some ideas to add?

Need folders for your new open shelving system?  Efficiency Solutions carries a great side tab folder.

cartoon-man-at-computer-hipaa-warning-message_s101

Today I read another example of the security/privacy risk of electronic records. 

An article titled “Mislaid hospital data another cause for unease” written by Edward Moyer and published on cnet.com describes a very serious breach.

To summarize: medical information for 20,000 patients ended up on a public web site.

If we are going to be forced into electronic medical records by the government I think serious attention must also be paid to security.

Tell me what you think.

Need HIPAA related filing supplies?  Efficiency Solutions carries a wide range of HIPAA products!

 What are Year Codes? b_yearlabels

Color-coded year bands provide an economical way to distinguish time of activity of individual folders located in a filing system.  A year band can be used to tell when a record was created or when the record was last accessed.

Each year is printed on the label and assigned a different color. For example, 2010 may be red while 2011 is blue.  The label wraps around the side or top tab of the folder so it is visible from both sides of the folder.      

What Sizes Are Available for Year Codes?

Side tab label sizes are:  3/4” high x 1-1/2” wide (most common size),
1/2” high x 1-1/8” wide, 1-7/8” x 1-7/8”.

Top tab label size is:  1” high x 1/2” wide.

What Type of Filing System Commonly Uses Year Codes?

Year codes are more commonly used in a side tab filing system (this is when folders are filed on open shelving as apposed to drawers) because these systems are often very large.  Also, with open shelving you can see the colors on the labels by standing in front of the shelving.

Why Use Year Codes?  yr codes

Finding information based on the year is much quicker. If you do not put it on the front of the folder you have to go into each chart to find the year.

Another use of colored year bands is when all records from one year are filed together.  If someone tries to put a record with the wrong year’s folders the color band will be different than the others in the section

When is Knowing Folder Activity Important?

Knowing folder activity is valuable in a number of instances:

If you purge based on activity. 

When a study is conducted and you want to access all records from a certain year. 

If you are looking for a certain record and know the year the search is quicker.

You need to follow-up on a record in a specific time period.

What if You Have too Many Records in One Year?

When one year is too long a time period (too many records) you can use two or more colors for the same year to break up the year.  Or, month codes are available to distinguish each month of activity.

Benefits of Year Codes!

Using year codes saves time and after all “time is money”.  Since approximately 75% of every dollar spent in filing areas is people time, using color-coded year bands will pay big dividends!

Share your ideas about using year codes.

Need year codes or folders?  Efficiency Solutions is a great place to purchase both!

alpha filingYou have decided to create an alphabetical filing system based on a name. Where do you start?

The order to file alphabetically by name is: last name, first name or initial, then middle name or initial.

1) To get started first determine how many records will be put into the system.  This will determine how much shelving you need.

(Read my article “Questions to Ask Before Choosing Shelving for Your Files”) for help determining what type of shelving to buy.

2) Then, divide your shelving into 26 sections. Studies have determined the percentage of how many people have a last name starting with each letter of the alphabet.  By using the results of these studies, you can estimate what percentage of the file room each letter will use.

File Room Alpha Breakdown

(A=3.2%) (B=9.7%) (C=8.0%) (D=4.9%) (E=2.2%) (F=3.8%)

(G=4.9%) (H=7.8%) (I=0.4%) (J=2.6%) (K=3.6%) (L=4.5%)

(M=9.3%) (N=1/7%) (O=1.3%) (P=4.5%) (Q=0.2%) (R=4.8%)

(S=10.2%) (T=3.4%) (U=0.4%) (V=1.0%) (W=6.8%) (X=0.1%)

(Y=0.5%) (Z=0.2%)

Each section will reflect the information provided above.  An easy way to designate each section is to write each letter on a piece of white tape or a blank white label.  You can stick this lettered label at the start of each section.

3) Put the files in the correct section based on the first letter of the person’s last name.

(Here is a handy tool that will automatically alphabetize lists.)

4) Next, go the second letter of the surname, then the third letter, etc..

Some additional rules are:

-Surnames with prefixes (Mac, Mc.,  etc.), are filed as if they were one word.

-How about if the two last names are the same?  Then go to the first letter of the first name.

-When someone has a title, put the title at the end of their name.

-Any abbreviations in a name should be alphabetized as 
  if they were spelled out (St. – saint)

-Ignore hyphens and file compound names as one unit.

For maximum efficiency-color code your alpha system.

Please share any alphabetic filing stories you might have!

Here is a great place to find supplies for your alpha filing system.

Before creating a numeric filing system for your records, it is important to decide what filing number to use. 

Terminal Digit Filing

Here are some questions along with some ideas to help you decide:

Taking the time to think through all the current and future aspects of your filing needs will help to save you time and trouble as the system grows. Nothing is worse than having thousands of records filed only to have to re-do the system because of factors not considered at the beginning.

1)  How many total records are anticipated for this system?

If the system is very small what number to use is not as important.  In fact, you might want to consider alphabetical filing since this may reduce the need to cross reference in order to find the record’s number. 

For large filing systems a shorter number is easier to handle. 

2)  What numbers already exist that may be used?

Maybe a billing number, medical record number etc?  If you decide to use an existing number accessibility of the number is very important.  Using a computer system that contains the filing number is the most commonly used method. 

3)  Will you be color-coding the records?

If you decide to color-code the records a shorter number is easier to work with.

4)  Where do you intend to designate the number on the folder?

Make sure the number is not so long all the numbers cannot be viewed on the folders.

5)  Will sub-folders be created that need to be numbered?

If sub-folders are used another decision has to be made about how to designate the sub-folders.  Using the date the sub-folder is created is a common designation method.

6)  Will regular purging of the files occur?

If a sequential filing number is used purging will create holes at the beginning of the filing system which means the records must be shifted to make space for the new numbers (newer numbers will be filed at the end of the system).

7)  Is confidentiality an issue with the number being considered for the record? 

confidential_file_folder_0515-0911-0222-3558_SMUIf the files are located where they can be casually viewed, this issue becomes very important.

 

 

8) Will drawers or open shelving be used for the system?

When records are filed in drawers it is harder to see the number.  A shorter number could help. 

When records are filed in drawers it is harder to see the number. A shorter number could help. Also remember that filing drawer cabinets are very inefficient use of floor space.

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Considering all the factors listed above will aid you when designing a numeric filing system.

Do  you have any additional ideas regarding numbering folders?

Need to purchase  folders or labels?  Check out Efficiency Solutions for all your filing system needs.

 divider

Tab Dividers (also called Index Tabs) are tabbed sheets of paper inserted into a folder to separate sections of the folder.

When to Use Tab Dividers:

-If the record is very large

-When parts of the folder need to be accessed quickly

-Multiple people use sections of the file

Why Use Tab Dividers:

-Keeps the folder organized

-Saves time (time is money!)

Applications for Tab Dividers:

-Medical Records, Hospital Charts

-Legal Records

-Banking & Financial Records

-Insurance Records

-Mortgage Loan Files

To maximize the efficiency gained by using Tab Dividers it makes sense to customize the dividers to match you particular needs.  Unless the quantity is very small the price is not very different from stock dividers.

Making your own tab dividers may seem to cost less than custom, but when you compare the supplies and time (and they usually end up sloppy) used to construct these tabs they end up being more costly than custom. 

I have listed below the choices you can make when designing your custom tab dividers. 

1: Paper Weight- Tab Divider paper is available in 90lb. and 110lb. weights.  The heavier weight helps increase the durability of heavily used dividers.  90lb. paper takes up less room in the chart and is the most commonly used weight (most of the wear and tear happens to the tabs).

2:  Paper Color-Tab Divider paper is available in white index, manila, and colored paper.

3: Tab Extension-How far the tabs stick out (extension) is available in 5 sizes:

1/4" ext.

3/8" ext.

1/2" ext.

5/8" ext.

3/4" ext.

If the tabs are located on the bottom of the dividers a smaller extension has the advantage of not covering up the side tab of the chart.

For tabs located on the side of the divider larger extensions mean the text is easier to read.

4: Tab Cut-This describes how many tab positions are located on the dividers.  Also described as how may tabs to a bank. The tab cut ranges from 1 tab  per bank to 12 tabs per bank (1/12th cut).   With each addition of a tab to the bank the width of the tab gets smaller.  tab divider grid

4: Printing-Custom printing on the tab can be on one side or both sides of the tab. Body copy is also available.

5: Mylar Reinforcement-Mylar reinforcement on the tabs greatly increases the strength of the tab. 

Also, choosing a different mylar color for each tab makes it easier to quickly identify each section.   mylar colors

The holes may also have mylar reinforcement to keep them from ripping.

6: Hole Details-The holes used to attach the divider to the folder may be located on the top or the side of the divider. 

You can also choose 2 holes (for folders with fasteners), 3 holes (usually for a 3 ring binder), or 5 holes (usually for a 5 ring binder). If the divider goes from a binder then into a folder 5 holes will work with both situations. 

7: Collation-Dividers can be collated into sets.  This is a good idea if every tab title will be used in every chart.  If each chart requires different tabs collating the tabs separately is the best choice.  For times when most of the tabs are used with every chart you can have those dividers collated into sets while the tabs only used with some of the charts are packaged separately.

Do you have any suggestions about paper tab dividers for file folders?

Call Efficiency Solutions for personal help designing your tab dividers!

An organized filing system can be arranged in a number of ways including:  Alphabetical, Straight Numeric, or Terminal Digit order.

This article focuses on Terminal Digit filing.

Example of a Terminal Digit System

With Terminal digit filing the last two digits of the filing number determine the primary location of the file.  Then you go to the middle two digits, then the beginning digits  (how many digits depends on the size of the number).

A simple way to describe how to file a six digit number in terminal digit order is: last two, middle two, first two.

For example:  the number 13 76 20 would be filed in the (20) section,  then in order by the (76), then in order by the (13).

You are basically taking the entire file room and dividing it up into 100 sections.  The sections start at (00) and end at (99)

You look at the last two digits first (last two) which means the first section in the file room contain all the numbers that end in (00) and the last section contains all the numbers that end in (99).

Terminal Digit File Room Illustration

00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59
60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69
70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89
90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99

These sections pretty much stay constant so knowing the last two digits of the filing number means knowing the section of the file room that contains that record (a number ending 50 will be in the middle of the file room etc.).

Now that the record is in the primary section the next digits to file by in that section are the (middle digits). Then you go to the next digits back (first two with a six digit number).

Read the rest of this entry »

In an organized filing system folders are arranged in some kind of order (we hope!). Some commonly used methods include: alphabetical, straight numeric, terminal digit numeric, or by some category. Sub categories can also be added to the above methods.

 Straight numeric filing is basically putting the folders in order of lowest number to highest number.

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of the various systems upfront will allow for an informed decision based on your particular needs.

This article provides information regarding straight numeric filing.

1) Choosing a Number

Before putting the files into numeric order you have to decide what number will be used to designate each folder. Some numbers commonly used are: medical record number, account number, billing number, assigned number etc.

2) Determining if Straight Numeric is the Correct Choice

-How folders many will make up the filing system?

-The number of digits that make up the chosen number?  

-How long the records will be kept in the system?

-What factors will determine when they are purged?

-Will the records be color-coded?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Paper filing system information online is scarce in todays digital world. Because of my years of experience working with paper filing systems I thought it would be helpful to create a forum designed to provide paper filing system information along with a venue to vent.

Categories of filing system help are listed on the right.

 

My website  is a great place to purchase filing system related products.

What would you like to discuss?

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