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Records management at RRU

Everything you need to know about organizing and destroying information at Royal Roads University.

Tips for efficient record retrieval

Folders are widely used for organizing files, and are available for email, electronic, and paper records.  The following design principles for folders can be used to create easy-to-navigate systems:

  • Folders should be clearly demarcated from one another. Each folder name should draw a conceptual boundary around its files in a way that clearly excludes the content of all other folders.  Doing so means that during a search, there will be one obvious place for a file to be found.
  • Limit the depth of subfolders. Subfolders are helpful when they group similar files and create a sense of structure. Subfolders become unhelpful when nested deeply within one another as this creates a complicated navigational experience for the searcher.  Every file should be accessed with two or fewer clicks of a subfolder.
  • Folders and files should be named in a way that accurately describes their content. The name of a folder should explicitly summarize what is contained within the folder.  Acronyms should be avoided because the folder has the potential to outlive the acronym.
  • Subfolders should follow an easily-perceived pattern.  Patterns makes it possible for the searcher to quickly ascertain if an entire set of folders is relevant to their search.
  • Only seven folders choices should be visible at one time. When presented with too many folders on a single level, searchers may find the overload of information difficult to parse, which impedes their ability to navigate. 

Deleting helps organization

Eliminating unnecessary folders reduces the number of folders you must consider when undertaking a search.  A smaller set of folders is also easier to conceptualize, resulting in greater overall control of the files.

  • Remove all folders and files you do not need. At Royal Roads, unofficial records such as drafts, unsolicited documents, and copies can be deleted immediately by following the Guide for Identifying Official Records.
  • Match each folder to a single Time Limits for Official Records category. The Time Limits for Official Records tells you how many years a record must be kept. If your entire folder corresponds to a single category, you can easily implement a yearly practice of sorting the folder content by date, then either deleting or archiving all records that have passed the official date of disposition.

Iterative improvement

It is best to view your system of folders as a work in progress. If you find it difficult to retrieve a file, ask yourself why: 

  • Was there an overlap between folders?
  • Does the name no longer evoke the content?  
  • Was the file obscured by a large volume of unnecessary content?  

Over time, iterative improvements are likely to yield a folder system that functions well for you.