Filing Your Organizational Memory - Take 2

Enjoy another post from our colleague, Sarah.

Previously, we discussed the need to create a sound filing system for our organizational memory. We explored creating a structure by departments, but in our example, we also identified some problems with the division by department that concerned our team members from Company X.

Some of the concerns previously identified were the fact that they had several items that didn’t fit into a structure divided by departments. Also, as they worked through the process, it became clear that there were items that were housed under a department that might be useful for all employees to easily access. In addition to these problems, the team had concerns that not all of the departments had necessary information needed to create a sound organizational memory. Let us now reconvene with our imaginary “dream team” and explore another file structure.

This time we are going to start by grouping the items we have identified and will see if the items themselves can help us create a logical file structure. Download and print Items Available for Filing and Need Items for your reference.

As you can see, our file structure is labeled and sorted quite differently this time. This system might be a more logical system for Company X, given that the materials in their memory can be logically sorted by file types. This may (or may not) work for your company, depending on how many similar type files you have or the size of your organization.

The “dream team” creating this structure still had a few problems with the structure. Some items, such as organizational chart and the map of the building didn’t seem to fit into the structure well, but were important documents. In the interim, they decided to do a general folder for all employees which would house this type of material. They weren’t sure this would be a permanent solution, but it was fine for the interim. Also, some on the team did not like the idea of losing a place for each department to store their items, even though they generally liked this structure better. The team unanimously decided that the blueprints, while useful to keep, were really specific to maintenance, and should be kept in a folder designated for them. Others had concerns that separating the handbooks and the trainings guides might result in one being reviewed and not the other. In the end they decided to rework the structure one more time.

This is Company X's Final Filing Structure. The arrows indicate second layer files. Notice how they kept some of the previous two brainstorming sessions for the final document. They were also able to identify more items that need to be found or created as they completed the structure.

I hope that these posts have helped you explore a file structure for your organizational memory. Remember this is a process. It will not happen overnight, and it will never be complete. Memories are vibrant and living, and ever-changing.

Next time we will discuss how we should move forward with our “Items Needed” list.  I believe that as we find holes in the memory it is important to identify personnel and processes to help us fill the gaps and establish deadlines for completion.

Happy organizing, Sarah

Sarah Barton currently serves as Registrar at Ohio Valley University. She has over twelve years experience working in the areas of records maintenance, database management, grant writing, grant administration, and organizational assessment. When she is not working, she is a wife and mother of three children, a mixed media artist, a cook and an active member of her church family.