How to set up and keep an electronic correspondence journal
let’s start from the beginning
In today’s post, I would like to offer you a solution to the problem of clutter in business correspondence. More than once, in our family business, I have seen how trying to find a letter from an office or a contractor was a real problem. Nervous browsing through piles of papers and desperate attempts to remember the date on which the letter you were looking for came to the company were not uncommon. If the matter was trivial, it was possible to come to terms with the inability to find this correspondence. However, the problem arose when, from the formal point of view, it was important to check the date on which the letter was received by the company, e.g. from the Tax Office. It is worth noting here that in many administrative matters it is the date of receipt by the addressee that is decisive and influences the start of the period. The inability to check it efficiently can complicate our lives very much, and even expose us to financial losses. The solution to this problem is the correspondence journal.
What does it look like on a daily basis
Time for a little examination of conscience. Is your situation somewhat similar to the one described above? If not, congratulations – you are already at the advanced level of running your business and you know how important order is in your documents. However, if your situation is not ideal, I invite you to read on.
We can distinguish 3 main scenarios for dealing with this problem:
Scenario 1 – TOTAL CHAOS. Corporate correspondence flies through the entire home office, unevenly covering the surface of almost all desks and countertops, like huge snowflakes. I strongly advise against this version. It is like asking for trouble, and the time we waste on it could be much better managed.
Scenario 2 – DIVIDENT ATTEMPTS TO TAKE AN UNEQUAL COMBAT. Attempts are made to segregate correspondence. Important lists are separated from the less important ones. Correspondence with offices goes straight to the boss’s desk, or to a carefully prepared litter box for important matters, finding there companions among electricity invoices, contracts with contractors or urgent orders. The risk of losing an important letter has significantly decreased, however, it is still not known when the letter was received or who received it.
Scenario 3 – PROFESSIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL. Company correspondence is received, registered and kept in a predetermined place. The situation is much rarer. It is a pity, because it saves a lot of time and nerves.
How can I fix it?
Contrary to appearances, the problem is quite simple to solve, and the very process of keeping a corporate correspondence journal can be divided into several stages:
a) Ongoing registration of incoming and outgoing correspondence
b) Keeping and processing correspondence from the last period (month / quarter)
For the day-to-day management of corporate correspondence, I recommend using the sheet attached in this post. The procedure is quite simple, and it will not take long to implement and master it.
Each letter that arrives ends up in the trough titled. incoming correspondence. Once a day (preferably at the end of the day), open the sheet I enclosed with and enter all the letters one by one.
Tip of the day: One of the important aspects of process optimization in a company is performing repetitive activities collectively, not every time the need arises. By entering all the lists at the end of the day, we will not waste time on repeatedly opening and closing the program, loading it, reaching for correspondence, or finding cells in Excel (contrary to appearances, our brain needs some time to perform all these activities). I know from experience that these seemingly insignificant little activities turn into whole quarters of an hour during the day. The same applies to replying to e-mails, issuing invoices or making transfers.
Try to be as careful as possible when entering data into the correspondence journal. It will pay off in the future. It is always a good idea to enter repeated contractors in the same way, without changing their name (or even spelling) each time. For example, if we received a letter from Piece kaflowe KAFELEK Sp. z o.o. so avoid a situation where we will introduce it once under the name Tile stoves and other times simply as TILE. Let’s stick to the formula once adopted. Why? Because one of the simple tricks I am going to show you is to use the filtering option in Excel, which does not work properly if the data is entered incorrectly. The filtering function allows you to extract only the part from the entire file that applies to e.g. a given period or a given contractor. I think filtering is a very strong point of this solution. Thanks to this option, there is no need for tedious browsing and searching of correspondence. You can replace this with a simple spreadsheet search. It is also worth remembering about the correct date format. I will develop it in the recording under the post.
Once you have entered all the letters into the spreadsheet, you should put them in the tray with the inscription current correspondence and leave them there for the period of your choice somewhere in the office at hand. The length of this period depends on ourselves, the specifics of the industry in which we operate and the amount of correspondence we receive. After this time has elapsed, he proposes to place all correspondence in the archives. A small cardboard box or a binder will be perfect for this purpose. It is worth giving it a title saying what it contains and the dates of the period it relates to.