Before we look in more detail at filing structures, it is worth considering the bigger picture in terms of how the work that you do may interrelate with the rest of your group and then with the rest of the institution.
It is sometimes easy to begin to think of the work you do in isolation and divorced from other staff or functions. This can lead to the inadvertent temptation to organise and manage your information in ways which suit you perfectly, but which do not necessarily suit those around you, or those who might follow you.
In practical terms, most staff will have regular access to a number of distinct ‘work spaces’ (see the table below). It is also quite likely that the information you create may often pass through all three work spaces during its life (for example, being drafted locally, shared with colleagues during consultation and redrafting and then published).
Your first decision is therefore to decide which of these workspaces it is most appropriate for you to be considering when saving a particular piece of information.
Of course real life is usually far less clear cut than this table would suggest and there may be several different systems or storage areas used in each work space, and some which straddle more than one.
It is merely a conceptual model to help you to think about your information, how it might be used and how its management should be approached in different contexts.
Types of workspace and their management implications
|Individual||Personal network drive|
Personal filing cabinet
|Non work related information (if permitted by your institution)|
Appraisal and annual review information
Initial brainstorming work
|Is this area backed up? If not, what will happen if you lose this information?|
Does anyone else need to know this information exists?
Will anyone else ever need to access this? If so make sure you give it an appropriate file name now, even if they can’t see it yet
|Group||Shared network drive|
Closed team space on intranet
Shared office filing cabinet
Internal team administration
|Can other staff identify and find this information?|
Is it clear that this is the most recent version?
If and when should it be finalised and released?
|Corporate||Shared network drive|
|Final, approved versions of plans, reports, policies etc||Is it clear that this has been approved?|
Should we delete or keep all the previous draft versions?
Should this be readily accessible just within the institution or by the public at large?
When should it be updated or replaced?