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Thread: File System

  1. #1
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    File System

    I didn't know where to stick this so IT thread sounds good enough for me.

    Here's the problem. I'm trying to reorganize my filing system so that it actually makes sense. I have a database that helps categorize everything so I can usually find the files I'm looking for scattered around the office. This is why I say scattered:
    The permits (homes and sheds) are filed by permit year.
    The commercial permits are filed by address
    Other important stuff (survey's and assorted property related things) are filed by the section-township-range number.
    I'm not even starting on the entitlement stuff (zoning, CUP, etc. which is all filed by case type and year.

    So what would the best way to file all this other than toss it in the trash? I'm thinking section-township-range works because it is a rural county so the worst I can get is about 140 permits in one section which can easily be sorted by address at that point. This lets me find every permit related to a property at one time versus digging in three different boxes. The downfall is having to slowly refile all the permits done by year or address into the section file.

    The other thought is to start scanning all the files and go paperless to some degree. Anyone have experience with this? I figure if I'm going to touch the files, why not scan them and get rid of the paper if I can.

    We don't have that many permits compared to most places. We're talking about seven bankers boxes filled and one four drawer filing cabinet. It would be a pain to handle them all, but it could be done.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  2. #2
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    I have over 7 years experience in records management in the public and private sectors, so I will give it a shot . The first thing you need to do is standardize your filing system. You said 'the permits (homes and sheds) are filed by permit year, The commercial permits are filed by address, Other important stuff (survey's and assorted property related things) are filed by the section-township-range number. I'm not even starting on the entitlement stuff (zoning, CUP, etc. which is all filed by case type and year).'

    Ok, you first need to standardize how you file, because you are all over the place. You will also need to continually use this method for future filing.

    The first logical way that comes to my mind is the following:
    1. I am assuming you are at a small, rural jx, therfore it appears the Township Range Section is probably your best way to categorize all your documents (BPs, CUPs, Easements, etc) as you probably have several parcels that are not legally subdivided and do not have addresses assigned. Filing by year will not help you if you have a question about a specific parcel
    2. Within every Township Range Section file, you can order the subfiles by property address, parcel number or legal description.
    3. Organize the documents within each location chronologically by year.
    4. Have your file naming convention follow this format: TWNRNGSEC_Address(OR Parcel OR Partial Legal Description)_Year_Document type
    5. You need to have everything scanned and indexed in a database system (such as Sharepoint backed up on the cloud because servers can get fried) identical to the organizational method as you physical files. Do you have a high volume scanner and indexing software that allows scanned files to be transferred to a database such as Sharepoint?
    6. Then you need to figure out a retention schedule How long are you going to retain the specific physical document categories? 5 years, 25 years? Each category of document may have a different retention schedule. For example, CUPS may have a long, 50 year retention schedule, but a BP may have a shorter retention schedule.

    Hope this helps.When I was a planner I HATED that I couldn't find past approvals easily.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    IMO, for us rural folks, address is best. Most people in my office want to redo everything by PIN, but as we planner types know, those can change. If it does get filed by PIN, it really just needs to be the first 4 digits, as those correspond to blocks (at least they do here) and do not normally change. Deeds don't work either. Addresses almost never change, especially for us rural counties. Your township idea is one I didn't think of, and I like that, it's a good idea to in conjunction with addresses.

    Right now, all our stuff is filed by name, last name first. It works okay for the most part, but sometimes we have to track down previous owners to get the names to match up. DO NOT file them by permit type. The permitting tech. who was here before me did this, and it just resulted in needless master folders and stuff all over the place. We changed that pretty quick once she was gone.

    At some point we want to digitize, but finding out how exactly to do that is difficult. The county next door uses some sort of "short addressing ID" but I'm not sure what that is. For us, the main thing we absolutely HAVE to digitize within the next year or so are old septic permits. We waste on average an hour a day searching for old approvals. If these were digitized and available online, we'd cut out that nonsense.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I'm lucky that I have a database that indexes everything for me, but I was thinking something like queen is talking about. I have to talk to my IT guy today about scanners, software, and storage space or cloud storage. If I'm going to scan every permit then the hard copies I would have no problem shoving into boxes by year and locking up in the basement. If you really want a hard copy we would just search the database for the S-T-R and then pull the permit by year and permit number. I just like the idea that if I'm working on a property I have all the information right at my fingertips instead of digging through multiple folders or boxes to find them all. Queens filing naming could work well too. Let the computer do the searching.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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