Computer Filing System

The computer filing system is a great alternative to a physical filing system. This digital or online method is fast becoming the way to file and store all business documents, or as a personal filing system.

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Digital Filing System
  • Here we focus on how to use a digital or online system to store all documents relating to the bookkeeping of a business.

    The system for saving onto your computer’s hard drive, or saving to an online storage facility are the same – the only thing that is different is the location.

    You will need a scanner for all the physical documents you receive so you can scan and save them onto your digital system. For smaller receipts you can take a photo of it with your smart phone and email it to your computer.

Tips for filing on your computer:

  • make sure you have enough storage space on your hard drive - 1GB is a good starting point but that
    will fill up fast if you save a lot of photos or videos.

  • always back up your hard-drive every day for business purposes using a removable device such as a flash drive or a portable hard drive (and keep them in a separate location to the business). Or, back-up to an online facility. Most anti-virus providers have the option to back-up your folders to their storage site so check it out.

A computer filing system (on your hard-drive or online) contains folders like in the graphic above – no doubt you’ve seen them already.

Inside these folders, you can open more folders, and inside those, more folders – so you can have several layers or tiers of folders all with their own names and within those folders you will store your documents, photos and videos. You can be super organised!

For a computer filing system diagram, scroll down to the bottom of this page and click/tap on the thumbnail. This diagram is a good visual for explaining the computer filing system described here specifically aimed at bookkeeping.

This computer filing system is based exactly on how your data is laid out in bookkeeping software and makes it very easy to find any document you require really fast.

Tips for filing online:

  • There are many online document storage providers. A reputable one you can start with is Dropbox. Dropbox is free up to 2GB and you can invite users to access or view any particular folder you want – so it’s great for document sharing with clients or your accountant etc.

So now we get started. Keep in mind that the example folders provided here are just that... examples, and there is no restriction to how many folders you can open.

Open your main folder. Give it a name, perhaps the name of your business.

Inside the main folder open the following three folders:

     Bookkeeping Documents
     Reports
     General

Inside the Bookkeeping Documents folder open these five folders:-
     Assets
     Liabilities
     Equity
     Income
     Expenses


Inside the Reports folder you can open sub-folders for whatever reports you will need – the main ones are:
    Balance Sheet
    Profit and Loss
    Accounts Receivable
    Accounts Payable
    Cashflows
    Inventory
    Payroll
    Employee Productivity
    ...and more


In the General folder you could have folders where you keep:
    Account applications
    Marketing plans
    Budgets
    Property title deeds
….. whatever relates to your business that does not directly affect your financial data (meaning whatever is not entered into the bookkeeping software).

Inside the five main bookkeeping folders we need to open more folders:-

Assets
    Bank
         for bank statements and reconciliations
    Equipment
         for copies of invoices for the purchase of equipment over the value of $500
    Land and Buildings
         for any financial documents relating to the purchase of land and buildings
    Inventory
         for invoices for the purchase of inventory items using the name of the  supplier
    Accounts Receivable 
         keep copies of unpaid sales invoices here. Once they are paid move 
         them  to the Income folder. Another option - you could keep one copy here and one copy in
         the Income folder and then when paid just delete the one from this accounts receivable
         folder.

Liabilities
    Loans
         keep copies of loan documents and regular loan statements here
    Credit Cards
          for your credit card statements
    Tax
          for any tax advice notices or other documents relating to the calculation and payment of 
          your business tax
    Accounts Payable
          here you can keep copies of your purchase invoices and then when they are
          paid move them to the relevant expense folder. An alternative, just like accounts receivable,
          is to keep one copy here and one copy in the expense folder, and then when the customer
          pays remove the copy from the accounts receivable folder.

Equity
    Drawings
         for receipts or invoices that you paid for with business funds but are for personal use.
    Capital
         keep any documentation relating to funds you introduce to the business.
    Tax
         for any tax advice notices or other documents relating to the calculation and payment
         of your personal tax using business funds

Income
    Sales
         file each invoice using the name of the customer or the invoice number (or both)
    Misc
         for storing any documents relating to miscellaneous income

Expenses
List folders in alphabetical order – see deductible business expenses for an example listing, and then in those folders file each document using the name of the vendor/supplier,
however, if you have a big load of expense documents you can manage them more easily by opening files for each month inside each expense folder and store the vendor documents in month order

If you enter invoices into your bookkeeping software using the date of the invoice, file the documents in that same month.

If you enter them into your bookkeeping software at the date you pay them, then enter them into the computer filing system in the month you paid.


Now your computer filing system is ready. What remains is for you to move your scanned or emailed documents into the folders after you have entered the necessary information into the bookkeeping software.

A computer filing system makes it very quick and easy to search for a document you need.

You simply enter the name of the document you require into the search bar and hit enter on the keyboard.

Your results window should be populated with a list of similar named documents for you to choose from. As long as you have filed each document with an appropriate name, you will find what you need a lot faster than rifling through a physical/paper business filing system.


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Computer Filing System





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