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Filing can be described as the core of records management. It is rightly said that the keystone of office organization is the maintenance of comprehensive, simple and efficient filing system. Filing cannot be treated as an unimportant function of the office, perhaps it is the most important amongst its functions. Denyer gives a very simple definition of filing. He describes it as the “process of arranging and storing records so that they can be located when required, “thus filling as process has following major objectives (i) Proper arrangement of records, (ii) Careful storing of records, (iii). Easy availability of records without these objectives in view, filing system will not be useful and so the organization can not function successfully.
G.R Terry has defined filing as “the placing of documents and papers in acceptable containers of document and paper in acceptable containers according to some predetermined arrangement so that any of these may be located quickly and conveniently, when required”.
According to Zane K. Quible, “Filing is one of the activities in the records management programme which involves systematically classifying, coding, arranging and placing of records in storage”.
Records are stored under a suitable system of filing in order to achieve the following purposes and benefits.
Records constitute the storehouse of information relating to past events. They can be referred conveniently if they are filed in a systematic manner and a proper index is maintained for various files.
Filing ensures the safe storage of records of different types. Letters and other documents are put into folders and the folders are kept in cabinets. Thus records are saved from unforeseen happenings like theft fine etc.
Records serve as documentary evidence in case of disputes. Copies of records can be produced to settle the claims with different parties. Records can also be produced in a court of law as evidence when a party to the dispute resorts to the process.
Filing enables the handling of correspondence properly without any delay. It builds up the reputation of the organization and helps in securing orders.
Records are kept in compliance with provisions of various statutes like companies Act, Income tax Act, Factories Act, etc
Filing makes available the records of previous years. It helps in comparing the current year’s performance with the previous years. Thus it is an important aid in measuring the efficiency of the enterprise and various departments.
Availability of up-to-date information is essential for taking important decisions and for formulating policies. The degree of risk is increased if to decisions are based on relevant facts and figures.
Filing increased the efficiency of the office. It makes available to the management the required information with speed and accuracy which is helpful for prompt decision-making. Follow-Up actions are also taken quickly if records of the past correspondence are easily available.
In any large business establishment, the management has to decide whether filing should be centralized (i.e.: Spread among the different departments). The main object filing is speedy and accurate location of records at minimum cost. This is best achieved under the centralized filing arrangement.
Centralized filing of records refers to graphing and storing of records in the same place where they are accessible to a number of persons. In other words, the records pertaining to activities of all the departments of an enterprise are preserved in the centralized index plan. Central file comprises papers relating to general correspondence, office branch correspondence, orders, invoice, vouchers, estimate, quotations, credit and debit memos and other papers which several departments need to refer.
1. It eliminates duplication, as all papers pertaining to a particular subject are kept in the central file thus eliminating duplication.
2. This system provides better service by employing trained clerks exclusively for filing purpose.
3. It ensures a more uniform system of filing.
4. It helps to save time as there is only one place to send material for filing and locate the same.
5. It provides economy in space, equipment and supplies as there is no duplication of records and equipments.
6. It helps to serve other departments by relieving them from the burden of maintaining the records.
1. Physical difficulties are caused when departments are located away from the filing room.
2. Leakage of information is possible since files are centrally placed.
3. Since there is no duplication of records there is a fear of losing records. Therefore, it is advisable to have a copy of each record in the respective departments file.
In this system files relating to different departments are kept in the respective departments. Decentralized filing is necessary for maintaining records of work-in-progress, such as unexecuted orders, unpaid bills etc. Further there are certain records which will be used only by certain departments, for e.g. Price quotation in the purchase department, blueprints and drawings in the engineering department. In every department a filing clerk does the filing work along with his other duties.
The disadvantages of centralized filing are the advantages of decentralized filing and vice versa.
· It is more suitable where the information relating to a department is of confidential nature.
· It is useful when departments are located far away from the filing department.
· This system is useful when certain papers are relevant for one department only.
· There may be delay in locating records under centralized filing. Decentralized filing is recommended in order to remove inconvenience likely to result if the records are not located on time
· Expenses on filing are high, as it leads to duplication of space, equipment and supplies.
· Since every department does its own filing work, appointment of filing clerk is not economical and feasible.
· There will be lack of uniformity in the filing routines and equipment in different departments.
· Departmental filing may create difficulties when a piece of paper is relevant to more than one department.
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