Developing tools, guidance and procedures
Tools and guidelines such as agreed structures and naming conventions for folders and documents and clearly written procedures will help users.
Your agency’s network drives should have an agreed folder structure for managing information and records. There are a number of benefits including:
- providing a logical structure making it easy to see where new folders or items should be located
- encouraging users to move records out of personal drives and email accounts into the managed files by providing an easily accessible and understandable structure and process
- allowing better management of access restrictions and protection of records from unauthorised tampering
- making it easier to migrate your records into a dedicated records management system.
By working with business owners and system users in your agency, you can understand the nature of the work processes and create a folder structure which reflects your agency’s business.
The folder structure should:
- be easily understood
- be easy to use
- reflect how the agency does business
- discourage users from placing records in other locations.
Consider using the same structure for activities that are common across your agency. Your new structure could be developed as part of a business review or a process improvement activity.
Folder structure could be based on:
- subjects and topics
- organisational structure
- the type of work, such as case management or project management
- the business functions and activities
- a mix of these approaches.
For demonstrations see: Examples of network folder structures
Procedures for your agency will ensure information is well managed and the structure is well maintained.
- Develop and implement policies, procedures and rules that support your agency’s business as well as the effective management of information and records.
- Decide whether to centralise or decentralise the creation and management of network folders depending on a risk assessment and what best suits your business. Centralising the activity will restrict it to a small number of users or records management staff while decentralising it will require more training and support for all users.
- Implement and manage clearly defined access controls. Consider appropriate controls over passwords for individual documents as these can prevent legitimate access to records over time.
- Establish responsibilities for folder management.
- Work with your ICT staff to ensure the integrity of the network drive is maintained. For example, technical staff can help with configuration changes to prevent end users from adding records at inappropriate levels.
Consistent names or titles for folders, documents and other items make it easier to access the information needed in a timely manner.
File titles should be precise and informative. Clear titles help identify what is in the file, when it was made and what activity the information relates to. Aim to be clear, concise, complete and correct. Think about which information to put first and how it will be sorted when you view it in a network drive folder structure.
Folders or documents for similar business should be titled consistently. Avoid using jargon or abbreviations when titling.
Train staff to use appropriate names when they create titles for folders and documents. Your naming conventions could be based on a combination of:
- file creator and/or recipient
- subjects and topics
- your organisational structure
- case or project name and number
- date ranges or reporting periods
- version or status of documents.