It is highly recommended for all electronic documents to include a date as an element in the document name. Dates can be standardized in the international date standard numerical format with underscores(_) between year_month_day, YYYY_MM_DD. This format allows ease of sorting and comparing files by date and prevents confusion with other date formats.
The date should be defined by business needs and what is most useful for retrieval purposes. The date used could be the creation date of the file, the date the file was modified or finalized, or a date of central importance to the file. For example, a date on a presentation would be the date the presentation was given, or a date on an audit report would be the day the audit was conducted. When files and documents are moved from one computer to a server or other cloud-based systems the system assigns a new ‘creation date’. This new date will change to the date that data was moved to the new local hardware or system and not keep the original ‘created date’ of the document. Thus the creation date can be lost if not recorded in the document naming convention. Further, when emailing documents, it is helpful for a user to see a date associated with a document within the name, especially if there are multiple versions associated with a document.
To learn more how to organize computer documents, download the free report How to Organize Your Computer Documents.
There is a clear environmental need for paperless offices. The paper industry is one of the world’s major polluting industries and one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases with over 900 million trees cut done annually. The EPA reports that paper is the number-one material thrown away, comprising 40% of our waste stream. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “The pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world.”
In addition to environmental impacts, paper is time consuming to manage. Record keeping constitutes more than 90% of all office activity. Studies indicate that of the paper filed, over 80% is never referenced again! One Xerox study showed that over 45% of the office paper that is discarded was thrown out on the day it was printed. A great deal of time is being wasted printing, sorting, purging, and filing paper.
Then there is the cost aspect of paper. According to the Association for Information and Image Management, the lifecycle cost of a document is over $20, which includes the cost of paper, printing, mailing, distribution, and handling fees. An older study done by Coopers and Lybrand in 1998 (now Price Waterhouse and Coopers) estimated the cost of paper management to be about $50 per document. In addition, it takes up valuable real estate, it is estimated that it costs on average $314 per filing cabinet solely for the space it consumes in an office.
Essentially becoming a paperless office could reap the benefits of improved efficiency and effectiveness, reduce cost, and improve the brand and image of the company by becoming a better corporate environmental steward.
Let us help you become the paperless office through our consulting services or our Becoming a Paperless Office training. Contact us to learn more!