Information management has been around for a long time. Around 300 BC, Ptolemy I created the first library in ancient Egypt. He collected papyrus scrolls from all over the world and housed them in the first library of Alexandria. Unfortunately, most of that collection was destroyed by various fires through the ages.
While it’s a shame how much valuable information has been destroyed in the past, the processes of storing and managing information have evolved a great deal. From the efficient use of filing cabinets for document storage to the creation of computers, it has become easier than ever before to find and manage information in large quantities.
Whether you’re organizing important trade publications on your office shelf or vendor contracts in your filling cabinets, it’s important to use a system for file management. While the simplest thing to do may be to stack papers on top of each other based on when they were received, that won’t help you find anything later on. Over the years, people have used different systems to classify and organize information more or less effectively.
Many organizations use a combination of different approaches. For example, records may be organized chronologically by date and then alphabetically by name.
The easiest way to organize data is to put documents in alphabetical order. For example, at a doctor’s office patient records are often sorted alphabetically by last name. Dictionaries and encyclopedias organize information the same way. Sorting files alphabetically is easy to do and can be done by almost anyone, including school-age children. The downside to organizing alphabetically is that it doesn’t always help you find the most up-to-date information right away.
If the age of the record is more important than the name on the record, then you may decide to organize the information in chronological order, much like a timeline. Chronological organization makes sense for recurring paperwork like invoices.
If you collect a wide variety of information, then it might make sense to organize documents by subject. Organizing by subject means you won’t look for employee records inside of your financial statements. Instead, you file your documents according to the subject they fall under. The only problem with this type of organization is that some paperwork can fall into more than one category. For example, W2 records for your employees may fall under HR as well as accounting paperwork.
Enter the Dewey Decimal System
The Dewey Decimal Classification or Dewey Decimal System was originally developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876. Melvil Dewey, an American librarian, created this system to organize books and pamphlets stored in libraries around the country. The Dewey Decimal System uses a numeric system of classes and subcategories. The classification numbers assigned to each book have meaning, which makes it easy to find all of the books for one subject.
The best thing about the Dewey Decimal System is that it’s used throughout every library in the company, enabling any library patron to find what they’re looking for. Plus, most libraries now utilize an online catalog which helps library patrons find the right book with a quick word search.
BISAC is an acronym for Book Industry Standards and Communication. While libraries use the Dewey Decimal System to classify and organize the books they shelve, bookstores rely on BISAC. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) created the BISAC Subject Headings List, also known as the BISAC Subject Codes List. BISAC is a 9-digit alphanumeric code that describes a books heading. And while there is some talk about having libraries switch from Dewey to BISAC, that’s not likely to happen in the near future due to the cost of updating the database.
Modern Advances in Document Management Systems
Organizing and managing your documents is not as difficult as it used to be. Nowadays, there is no need to come up with a complicated system for organizing your paper records. Instead, you can manage your documents electronically.
There are many advantages to switching from paper filing to digital record management. However, regardless of how you save your documents, you may still need to organize your information in a way that makes sense to anyone who would be using it. You can create folders based on subject or department and subfolders for different categories of information.
The greatest advantage offered by modern document management systems is the ability to overcome a lot of the limitations set by paper filing. For example, you don’t have to worry about exceeding the physical storage capacity of individual folders and filing cabinets. You also won’t have trouble locating a file because someone else has borrowed it. Last but not least, finding information is as easy as doing a quick word search for indexed files.
Are you ready to find out how far information management has come? Take a look at eFileCabinet’s document management system right now. You can start your 15-minute demo by filling out the form on this page.