As a state agency, the University of Washington has a legal responsibility to demonstrate the proper care and management of its records. In addition to adhering to an approved retention schedule, this also means organizing your records in such a way that they can be located, viewed, and disposed of in a straightforward manner. While the focus has changed from paper to electronic records, the organizational concepts remain much the same across formats.

A well-designed filing system will:

  • offer quick and easy storage and retrieval of information;
  • ensure integrity and continuity of recordkeeping practices despite personnel changes;
  • align with the retention periods of the records it contains;
  • be expandable and flexible enough to meet users’ needs.

This guide provides recommendations and best practices for designing a system to organize your office’s electronic records.

The Benefits of Good Organization

  • Reduces the number of documents you keep
  • Less time spent filing, searching for, and cleaning up information
  • Fewer lost documents
  • Improved onboarding and offboarding of personnel
  • Improved regulatory compliance
  • Stronger business continuity in the event of a disaster or an unplanned emergency event
  • Reduces the risk of penalties for delayed or incomplete response to audits, lawsuits, and public records requests

Critically, while it can be difficult to quantify, a good filing system spares individuals time and energy spent performing after-the-fact records management. The right filing system produces important tangible results and eliminates costs associated with poor procedures.

Steps to Developing a New File Plan