Six Steps to Better Files
Contents of this tool kit
Briefly, here is the 6-step program to effective files:
Step 1. Determine what records are most important to your program, who should be responsible for them, and where they should be located (Months 1 & 2).
Step 2. Conduct a records inventory of all the unit's records and match the records to the records schedules (Months 3 & 4).
Step 3. Develop a file plan and filing procedures (Months 5 & 6).
Step 4. Develop recordkeeping requirements (Months 7 & 8).
Step 5. Improve files management via technology, indexing, and specialized equipment (Months 9 & 10).
Step 6. Produce a Records Management Manual (Months 11 & 12).
The National Records Management Program (NRMP) is frequently asked to assist in creating file plans or improving filing practices. Since we can't visit all offices that need help, we have developed a self-improvement plan for managing files.
This is a 6-step approach to better files with step-by-step instructions that program staff can follow. Each step should take approximately 2 months and while the entire process may take a year, you will see considerable improvement in six months.
Should your unit undertake the self-improvement project?
Probably yes. Most Agency offices need to improve their files management. The only question is one of scale. The approach presented here works best for programs that are between 25 and 75 persons. The more homogeneous the program functions, the larger the unit can be and still get effective results.
To begin the process, the unit head should select a small project team. The team should include representatives from all sub units and job series, not just support and clerical. In addition, the unit head must actively support the project and allow the project team time to do the work required.
Who can I call for help?
If you have questions, call your Records Liaison Officer or the Records help desk for assistance.