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Document Filing and Document Classification: What Is the Difference?

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Document filing and document classification

You’ve probably heard about different methods of document storage with the terms “filing” and “categorization” or “classification.”

However, there is an important difference between these two methods. Indeed, choosing one method or the other can make a big difference during the identification of the information by the different employees.

Here are a few explanations about how they differ from each other and the impact that they have on a company’s document management.

Document

classification

Document filing and document classification

You’ve probably heard about different methods of document storage with the terms “filing” and “categorization” or “classification.”

However, there is an important difference between these two methods. Indeed, choosing one method or the other can make a big difference during the identification of the information by the different employees.

Here are a few explanations about how they differ from each other and the impact that they have on a company’s document management.

The traditional method: document filing

First of all, document filing is quite well understood by everyone. Besides being quite visual and simple to develop, this method has been used for many years. The filing constitutes the “physical” location where a document will be filed. Traditionally, this involves:

  • Servers,
  • Network shares,
  • Folders, or,
  • Sub-Folders where documents are filed.

To facilitate information identification, employees often develop a filing structure. This is often done based on a folder and sub-folder structure in order to “categorize” the documents according to different subjects.

classement des documents

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE INFORMATION FILING METHOD

This structure has the advantage of being very simple to implement. However, it has a major limitation. Indeed, a document can only be filed in a single place; otherwise, it risks being duplicated.

Given that one of the main goals of implementing the folder structure is to group documents together in logical groups, this therefore limits the filing of each document to a single logical group.

Naturally, an employee will therefore file the document in the logical group that has the strongest connection with the document in their opinion. They will then be able to find this document according to the same method. However, another employee might identify a different logical group in which to file the document, creating a duplicate of the information. They might even look for the document in a different logical group and be unable to find it easily.

What is document classification or categorization?

Let’s take a look now at document classification or categorization. We will use the term “classification” below to simplify the text. Classification involves assigning properties—or metadata—to a document. This assignment can be done manually or automatically.

In 2020, more and more companies are turning to process automation to simplify document management.

As with document filing, the goal of classification is to categorize or associate a document with a logical group according to different subjects. But instead of using the physical location, metadata is favoured.

ADVANTAGES OF DOCUMENT CLASSIFICATION 

This method doesn’t have the same limitation as filing. Indeed, using this method, one document could be associated with two different logical groups without having to duplicate it. It would be enough to simply apply two different pieces of metadata to the same document.

Although it has been rarely explicitly used before the last few years, document metadata has been part of our daily lives for quite a while. For example, when a user saves a document, most storage systems will preserve the following metadata:

  • The date when the document was last saved,
  • The user who performed this save.

These are two types of metadata on the same document that provide additional information without being part of the folder structure. 

Of course, these simple pieces of metadata don’t offer many advantages when it comes to identifying information. However, combining basic metadata with additional metadata provided by an employee—or by a system—can greatly facilitate information identification.

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