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Business & Marketing Strategy - Chief Operating Officer for Your Business!


Efficiency Starts In Your File Cabinet

Elizabeth Fanslow

Are you enjoying your new virtual assistant? It’s great having administrative help with creating documents, graphics, email lists, etc. One thing that many business owners don’t think about is ensuring that the work created by a virtual assistant is located in your network. For instance…are you maintaining the original files or does your virtual assistant have them on her computer?

Being virtual means that documents and files created for your business are not being created on your internal network – therefore they may not be saved there either.

Recently a client asked me if I could use a document that she had created a few years ago. The document was used as a white paper and was about 10-pages long. However, she couldn’t locate the original file and only had a printed copy of the document. We decided that she would scan the document and email it over to me…but to use it again would mean that it would have to be re-created. A real waste of time when she had paid to have it created once before. 

As we talked, she realized that most of the work done by the virtual source she had worked with a few years ago were not in her possession. Documents had been loaded on her website as PDF’s by the VA, but she never got the actual Word documents. She learned a very important lesson that day. While most of her work were just simple documents and can be re-created it is an expense that she shouldn’t have had to incur.

But VA work is not the only thing you need to consider. What if you have folks that work offsite or you utilize freelancers?

It’s easy to lose track of documents and files when items are created in the virtual world for you. Yes, you might have gotten it in an email…but heck…who knows where that email is or where you might have filed it. Or worse yet…your email crashed last month and you lost them all.  

Creating a system and process for storing electronic files is something that every business owner should take seriously.
Tweet: Efficiency starts in your business file cabinet. @elizabethboyle

Here a few tips to help you create a system for your business:

1.     Create a cloud file system of some type. Whether its Apple iCloud, Dropbox, or Hightail…find one that works for you.

2.     Create a filing system for each person using the cloud and then create a process that ensures that all work created for your company is filed in the cloud and always accessible to you. 

3.     If you don’t want your VA to have access to your cloud files, create a system with them to always ensure you get a DOC file and a PDF file (as an example), and then place them in your cloud. You have to be diligent at making sure that files are saved in a location that is accessible.

4.     If you hire freelancers to create graphics, always request the actual art file (PSD, EPS, etc.) as well as the JPG file. If you ever need to make changes to the graphic you will need the original art file or your graphic artist will have to start all over.

5.     Create a written procedure for yourself and others that will be working in your company cloud. The procedure should detail where files are to be saved as well as how they should saved. It’s about consistency – ensuring that everyone is saving files in the same manner.

If you leave it up to everyone to create their own filing system – what you will have is a big mess of files and no idea where to find what you need.

It is much easier to start this process now than it is to go back and try to change or correct it. I think you will all agree that being able to locate the file you want quickly is imperative for keeping you efficient in your business.