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Files vs Piles

I recently read an article that had some interesting but not surprising statistics. Harte-Hanks published a survey in December, 2001 which reported that 96% of businesspeople interviewed were frustrated by their companies' information management. It's no wonder. An IDC white paper published in August, 2001 told us employees can spend up to two and half hours a day looking for information.

It's about retrieval

The truth of the matter is that information in large organizations is stored in huge electronic databases and archival files. However, a great deal of it is also found in the individual employee's workspace?on their desktop, in their file cabinets and in their heads. Coopers and Lybrand estimates U.S. Executives spend one hour a day just looking for misplaced files. But as I tell my clients, it's all about finding files, not just storing them. Can the information you are looking for be retrieved quickly? If needed, can it be found when the employee is absent from work? What if the employee leaves the company...does the ability to find information leave also?

Systems to the rescue

Taking the time to create a workable filing system works to the advantage of an organization. They become strategically prepared for the future and can maintain a competitive edge. However, development, management and maintenance of a filing system at the individual desktop level seems to be a hurdle for most. The truth is that it doesn't have to be difficult?it just takes focus and time. A well thought-out filing system simply provides a user-friendly structure or path. Better yet, the same key elements for developing a paper files can be used for digital files as well. The rewards include increased personal performance, productivity and reduced stress levels. If employees took the time to begin developing a customized, workable system, their retrieval problems would be greatly diminished. And so would that of the organization.

Technology to the rescue

There are at least two software products in the marketplace that help employees retrieve information stored within their own workspace. The programs aren't particularly complicated or expensive however they take time to set up. But let's face it--a workspace in disarray didn't get that way overnight. So the 'fix' most likely won't happen that quickly either. After investing the required time, management and maintenance of the system tends to be easy and painless. And the productivity gain enormous.

As Neil Larson said?'the value of information lies in how it is organized.' Can you find your organization's valuable information quickly?

Copyright 2001 Cynthia Kyriazis. All rights reserved.

Cynthia Kyriazis is a Professional Organizer, trainer, consultant, speaker, coach and author with over 20 years management experience in multi-unit corporations. She is President of Organize it, Inc., an organizational consulting firm serving Fortune 500 clients since 1995. Cynthia has worked with over 150 companies and hundreds of professionals to help improve performance in the areas of time, information, space and electronic file management.

Cynthia has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star and the Legal Intelligencer. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), member of International Society for Performance Improvement - Kansas City chapter (ISPI-KC) and consultant to the American Coaching Association.

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