New Zealand Film Commission

Creating a new filing structure within Microsoft Office results in improved workflows and greater continuity of information in the organisation.

Filing structure provides foundation for improved productivity

New Zealand Film Commission logoSometimes the simplest changes are the most effective. This was the New Zealand Film Commission’s experience when it created a new filing structure within Microsoft Office. The results were improved workflows and greater continuity of information in an organisation that, in some years, has a 25% to 30% turnover of staff.

As the primary funder of New Zealand feature films, the Commission is a small organisation based in one location with 21 staff who use Microsoft Word and Excel software. It has a high turnover because it encourages its staff to come from and return to the film industry – one of the ways in which it keeps itself in touch with a dynamic, creative sector.

Efficiency means working in a smart and effective manner and at a minimum cost.

“We recognised early on that we didn’t need anything big and complicated,” says Deputy Chief Executive, Mladen Ivancic.

What they did need was a filing structure and system that allowed them to meet the requirements of the new Public Records Act, which came into effect in 2005. With a limited budget, they also needed something that was affordable and easy to use.

“Previously, everyone had their own folders within the document management system, and many of these were pass-worded so only they could access the documents they created,” says Mr Ivancic. Institutional knowledge and productivity was being lost because new staff often had to start writing contracts, letters, grants, and the like from scratch.

In 2007, they brought in a record management and archiving specialist. “We didn’t have the time or resources to do this in-house so accepted the upfront costs,” recalls Mr Ivancic. “They were great. They got us all together to brainstorm what the new [filing] structure would look like. They brought with them templates of what other government departments were using and we essentially modified these to our needs,” he says. The Commission also decided to continue to use Microsoft’s filing system rather than a new document management system. This was because of cost and also because new staff would be familiar with it and could use it immediately.

“We agreed as a team what the file structure would be and also the methodology we would use,” he says. The “tree” of 15 “super folders” went live on 1 July 2009.

The flow-on benefits of a common agreed filing structure includes reduced time in locating documents and increased collaboration. “Before, people tended to think in silos or did things their way. Some of our staff are not bureaucrats – they are creative types, film-makers – but now we are seeing greater consistency, and continuity, in what we produce,” says Mr Ivancic.

Mr Ivancic says the biggest issue was getting staff to transfer all their existing documents to the new filing system. “We probably should have put some resource aside to do this for them, as they often didn’t have the time or inclination to do it themselves.”

“We were aware of the deficiencies of the old system and have come up with a solution that works for us, in so many ways,” says Mr Ivancic.

Based on an interview with Mladen Ivancic, Deputy Chief Executive, on 25 June 2012.

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