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Finders’ Keep: The Use of Naming Conventions Within Records Management

You can chock this posting, as well as my many others, up to my essential laziness. Yes, it’s true, I am, in fact, essentially lazy: I’d rather be lying on my couch, eating chips (and picking the stray chip pieces out of my chest hair–no, those don’t get thrown away) and watching SportsCenter right now. (Oh, that’s gross? Really? Would you rather work, or eat chips on a couch? That’s what I thought.) Unfortunately, I worry too much about getting fatter, and about making money (not independently wealthy, despite what my lifestyle might otherwise suggest) to do that. So, I still have to, like, work at LOMAP, and meet with our clients.

As I’ve mentioned before, after meeting with clients, I always settle back in, and draft an email covering our discussion topics and my further suggestions. This requires some measure of time, consideration and concentration, and not of the orange juice variety. But, I’ve created some efficiencies within the process: When I notice frequently asked questions, I just write about those topics, in full, at this blog; and so, when I sit back down to write another of my little post-meeting notes, I say, Hey, man, check out our blog, where I’ve already covered this. Pretty slick, I know. I’m kind of like that smooth pomade settling up there upon your cranium topper.

You may have noticed that I have been writing, of late, on the conversion from the papered office to the paperless office. Here, I covered some general concepts. There, I covered scanning and PDF conversion. Round here, I covered records management, generally. Up in this piece, I talked over the Massachusetts data privacy scheme, and then some. (By now, you’re starting to see the creaky wheels churning across my greyed matter:) But, I forgot something.

Now, I thought I had this pretty well-covered; but, alas: people keep asking me about organization, re: What about organizing the documents I scan? And, What about, like, finding those that may get lost in the shuffle? See, now, if you just met with me, and I was like, Yeah, I’ll send you a blog post on that: (a) see, I wasn’t lying; and, (b) I told you this blog was sweet.

So, here’s my take after naming conventions and finding keepers:

Of course, once you start scanning documents regularly, the next logical step is to ask where they might go. In order to file your electronic documents appropriately, you should create a naming convention for your office client records, which naming convention is understandable to you, and consistently applied by you. At LOMAP, by way of example, we make a main break at all client intake folders by year of intake. From there, at the remaining subfolders and subfiles, we use the following convention:

Folders: e.g.–2010 01 01 Rusty Lambert
Files: e.g.–2010 01 14 Motion to Dismiss for Insufficiency of Process

This system defaults to chronological order, meaning that if you open a particular client folder, you’ll be greeted by a chronological recitation of the case history, merely by naming your files in a certain way. See, slick and easy, just like, well . . . This chronological ordering is much the same thing that a practice management system will do for you, in helping to organize cases, and you can replicate this, with respect to your document files, within your computer saved files, on your own. (And, for getting those scanned documents named and filed with more immediacy, consider creating a workflow for those documents, such that scanning, naming and filing can be managed, to the extent possible, in the background, as it were. Remember that post I referenced previously respecting general considerations for the paperless office? Go back there now, and check out Rodney Dowell’s and Alan Klevan’s great Powerpoint presentation (linked out from there), on the scanning process, which provides some insight into creating a workflow.) And, if you must keep, or wish to keep, some, or all, of your paper documents, too, that’s fine; but, if you’re going to be doing that, try to maintain the same sort of filing system for your paper documents that you do for their replicant electronic documents. If you’re using the chronological ordering (which was suggested, under a veil, above) for your electronic document management, you can fairly easily cop that style with the ordering of your paper documents: just slip the latest document behind the prior document, and so forth. With a simple process like that, you’ve got an agreement in ordering as between your electronic and paper documents. (Not that I’m suggesting that you have to adopt our filing method. I don’t care what filing method you use, so long as you apply one, one that works, and one that is comprehensible (i.e.–you should know where stuff will be and you should be able to tell just by looking at the title you have given a document, what a document is and means) to you. I mean, you probably don’t want to have a naming convention strategy that involves combinations of your cats’ names plus colors and the winning lottery numbers from the past seven months. Don’t overcomplicate things. And, geez, you could probably stand to lose some of your damn cats anyway.)

And, while the adoption of an establishing naming convention, when appropriately done, becomes a fairly failsafe method for document management, human error will always enters into the equation, as it does with any human endeavor. For that reason, you’ll want to be certain that you can find documents that may have been mishandled, or mislaid, as it were. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to do this. Windows has its own desktop search functions, as does Mac. Google Desktop offers similar features. And, improperly labeled/mishandled files may be catchable/trackable through whatever practice management system you decide to purchase. Or, you could use a pay program for searching files and folders, like TechHit’s QuickJump, which will also allow you to jump to files and folders (via a search function) more quickly (hence the name), especially if you end up establishing a complicated tiering pattern for your computer folders and files, and determine that you need
to be able to move through to files faster than by clicking through multiples of folders. I have also reviewed QuickJump at our blog, here. If you want something really robust, you could select a full-scale document management program, with aggressive search options, like netdocuments, which product I will be reviewing at an as-yet-undetermined time. But, Look for that posting upcoming here!

. . .

Liner Notes

The Jared Correia Listening Project is going well, continuing apace, thanks for asking. It was a little dicey, though, for a time there, when I had to “reseat” my hard drive, and thought there was a chance that I would lose all my song ratings–but, that did not happen. I know, right?

We’ve moved to the “D”’s now, in reviewing, to refresh your memory, in chronological order, by artist (first name), all 7,176 songs currently in my iTunes library. In addition to being an intriguing little project for me, as it has reacquainted me with some songs that had been lost for some time, this also affords me a really easy Liner Notes option.

What strange and alluring mytunes might you find in the D segmentation; well, these:

Rapid City, South Dakota” by Dwight Yoakam (Kinky Friedman cover)

White Christmas” by The Drifters

I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys

I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls

Cover of the Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show

Peace Frog” by The Doors

Free” by Donavon Frankenreiter

Ghetto Jam” by Domino

“The ‘Designing WomenTheme Song (‘Georgia On My Mind’)” by Doc Severinsen

The General” by Dispatch

The Work Song” from “Cinderella”, by the mice

Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground

Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners

Warehouse” by Dave Matthews Band

Cool as Kim Deal” by The Dandy Warhols

Freight Train Boogie” by Doc Watson and Chet Atkins

Shootin’ Up Signs” by Dash Rip Rock

If You’re Not the One” by Daniel Bedingfield