Mail Management: How to get it right

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December 23, 2015

Mail Management: How to get it right

Physical and mail and parcels that organizations either receive or dispatch require a certain level of management. Activities that have to be undertaken to ensure smooth running of such services ought to be well comprehended and handled delicately to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and economy to the organization.



December 23, 2015


  1. 1.

    Presented By: Solomon Kaminda, MSc IT (Bristol – UK), BSc

    IS (Records Management) Senior Consultant- Kenvision Techniks Ltd ORGANIZATION MAIL MANAGEMENT
  2. 2.

    Objectives By the end of the session participants should be

    able to:  Understand meaning of mail management and differentiate different types of mail  Understand the procedures followed in processing incoming and outgoing mail  Understand and appreciate the use of folio numbers in filing.  Understand the procedure followed in filing.
  3. 3.

    What is mail management?  A core function of all

    registries concerned with the regulating incoming and outgoing official communication.  It involves: ◦ Organizing mail stations, ◦ Selection of appropriate transmission services, ◦ Opening and sorting incoming mail where appropriate, ◦ Date stamping, ◦ Dispatching outgoing mail, ◦ Routing and messenger services.
  4. 4.

    What is mail management? (Cont..)  An efficient run mail-management

    program is essential for rapid and economic distribution of information from one department to another within the organization and to and from others outside the organization.  Such a program ensures that incoming mail is delivered quickly so that work is accomplished without delay.  Prompt pick up and delivery of inter departmental correspondence help to keep internal lines of communication open and active.  Quick preparation and dispatch of out-going mail provides a favourable image with other organizations especially those waiting for a reply.  Such a program must be designed to provide prompt and accurate collection and distribution with adequate control at minimum costs.
  5. 6.

    A. Incoming Mail  Mail can arrive in the registry

    in a number of ways. ◦ It can be picked from the post office and other pick-up points by messengers ◦ Delivered by courier services, ◦ Special delivery, ◦ Hand-delivered ◦ Delivered in person by writer or his representatives.  The incoming mail can be in various formats such as : ◦ correspondence letters, parcels of publications, reports, microfilms, computer diskettes, CD- ROM, Photographs and other items.  Electronic mail can be delivered through a computer with Internet connectivity. All the incoming mail is received in the registry
  6. 7.

    Processing Incoming Mail 1 Sorting incoming mail  Once the

    incoming mail is received, the filing clerk proceeds to sort it out.  All mail will be sorted into 3 groups/batches. i. Official general correspondence and slips for officially addressed registered mail and parcels. ii. Official classified/private iii. Private correspondence/personally addressed mail
  7. 8.

    Processing Incoming Mail 1 Sorting incoming mail (cont.) i. Send

    registered slips to post office ii. Re-address wrongly delivered mail iii. Private letters are then sent unopened to the addressee- However the use of official address for private communication should be discouraged as far as possible. iv. Letters „attention‟ to particular officers however, are opened by the registry staff and dealt with in the usual manner. v. Secret and confidential envelopes are directed unopened to the secret registry where it is opened and passed to the appropriate officer (s) for action. OR sent to an officer assigned for that purpose. vi. Official general letters are opened at the main registry and date stamped. Make sure that the stamp does not obscure any writing.
  8. 9.

    Processing Incoming Mail 2 Opening of the mail  Before

    opening the envelope ensure that the letter is addressed to your organization. When opening ensure that the contents are not damaged.  For safety and security purpose do not open suspicious letters.  Such mail should be reported to the security officer immediately.  After opening, check to ensure that the mentioned enclosures are present pin to letters or place in an envelope.
  9. 10.

    Processing Incoming Mail 2 Opening of the mail  If

    some of them are missing this fact should be noted and brought to the attention of the management. Read remaining letters quickly for: - enclosures urgency reference  Note known file numbers on letters.
  10. 11.

    Processing Incoming Mail 2 Opening of the mail  Incoming

    mail should be opened once or twice a day depending on the quantity.  To avoid accumulation of mail, correspondence should be opened as fast as it is brought in from the post office.  If it must stay overnight, postal items marked urgent, telegrams telex and fax messages and express mail should receive prompt attention and delivery.
  11. 12.

    Processing Incoming Mail 2 Opening of the mail  All

    enclosures should be attached to the letter before they are filed.  Those that cannot be filed together for whatever reason should be sent to the appropriate designated place for safekeeping. A note on their whereabouts should be made on the letter mentioning them.
  12. 13.

    Processing Incoming Mail 3. Registration  All incoming official mail

    is entered into an in-ward mail register. It is worth noting that all incoming mail is either official or private.  Official correspondence could be either confidential or open.  The register should indicate:- i. Date received ii. Source of the correspondence iii. Senders reference of the letter iv. Subject of the correspondence v. Reference of the file in which it will be filed. vi. Date shown on the letter
  13. 14.

    Processing Incoming Mail Reasons For Retaining Incoming Register  Assist

    in tracing a wrongly filed letter which had been put away before action on it was complete  Trace a letter for which only the date and name of the correspondent is known  To provide evidence that a letter was in fact received and so to discourage a dishonest officer from removing or destroying letters from files.
  14. 15.

    Processing Incoming Mail P.O Slip No. Signature Place of Origin

    and name of Sender Date Received Our file No./ Contents Messeng er Registry Clerk Register Of Registered Mail & Parcels Received  Before the post office releases registered mail and parcels it requires, a signed post office slip from the recipient.
  15. 16.

    Circulation Of In-coming Mail  This is the practice of

    letting action officers see the mail before it is filed. Practice is also known as routing or tagging. The senior officers of the organization decide whether it should be circulated and to whom.  Variations however exist. – In some organizations the practice is to put all processed correspondence in an incoming folder and send it to the head of the organization attention. – After the head of the organization has finished with the correspondences, the folder is returned to the registry and the letters filed in their right file folders. – In other cases, correspondence may be filed before being sent to the head of the organization.
  16. 17.

    Circulation Of In-coming Mail  In large and busy organizations,

    the head of the organization may not have the time to give personal attention to all incoming letters.  In such Circumstances, the registry personnel have the responsibility of directing the letters to the relevant action officers who deal with the subject of the letter. The aim of circulation is to:- i. Have immediate knowledge of mail received. ii. Give occasional instructions on action necessary. iii. Determine priorities. iv. Note who is to deal with certain items. v. Where possible note the correct file number on letters.
  17. 19.

    Bring Up Diary  It often happens that action on

    some matter cannot be completed at once. The officer handling the file should then return it to the Registry and asks for it to be returned to the officer for action at a later date. The system for ensuring that the file is sent back on the day it is required is called Bring UP.  In each Registry a diary should be maintained for the purpose of carrying out the instructions given below. It is called a Bring – Up Diary.  Effective use of the Bring-Up Diary is one of the most valuable contributions a Registry can make towards the efficiency of the organization it serves.
  18. 20.

    Bring Up Diary Who Keeps The Diary?  A specific

    officer in the Registry should be nominated to examine the Bring-up Diary daily and take action on it promptly. The Registry supervisor should do this work when the said officer is absent. Failure to make these arrangements will result in the system being unreliable.  Entries are made in the B.U Diary wherever the Registry is required to produce a file at a future date. For this reason all members of the Registry staff should have access to the Bring-Up Diary. The Bring-Up Diary is an office memory.
  19. 21.

    Bring Up Diary Procedure A.O writes instruction to B.U. The

    A.O marks the bottom of the folio concerned as follows:- i. B.U ii. Exact date to be B.U‟d (It is not sufficient to say B.U in three weeks time). iii. Action to be taken when file is B.U‟d (if only to guide someone else who may be doing his job at the time). E.g “B.U. 15.8.2007 – To see if cash received”? He then notes the transit ladder on the file cover. iv. Enter up Bring-up Diary. On receipt of the file in the Registry the Clerk then enters details in the B.U Diary, under the date indicated by the B.U instruction e.g October 1st D/P F48.
  20. 22.

    Bring Up Diary Daily Action On The Bring-up Diary Each

    day as one of his first duties the responsible clerk should:- i. Examine the Bring-up Diary for entries for the day ii. Collect all files referred to. Cross through, initial and date the Bring-up Diary entry for each file found. iii. If any file is unobtainable, seek guidance for the Action Officer who requested the B.U iv. On each file examine the folio referred to in the diary for any endorsements regarding the B.U. if the endorsement is e.g. v. B.U.27.4.2007 to see if reply received, and the reply has not been received, then draft a letter of reminder for the Action Officer to sign. vi. In all other cases write the folio number, and the name or designation of the A.O in the wide column of the Transit Ladder. Send file immediately to the A.O.
  21. 23.

    Bring Up Diary Control  At least once a month

    the supervisor of the Registry should examine the Bring-Up Diary and satisfy himself that:-  Entries are being made correctly  Action has been taken daily to clear the day‟s entries  Files are being sent forward for action promptly.  That this procedure is being followed by Action Officers.
  22. 24.

    Bring Up Diary Verbal B.U  The procedure outlined above

    is best followed as a general rule.  Sometimes however, the A.O may wish to give a verbal instruction to a clerk.  The clerk should make sure, in such case, that he has taken down the information correctly so that he can note it in the B.U diary.
  23. 26.

    Filing Mail  As soon as incoming mail has been

    classified and the relevant action officers has seen and made the appropriate action, the correspondence must be filed. The relative file is identified and drawn. The mail is punched and filed in mail file indicate sequence. The appropriate documents are filed in the date order (chronologically) from right to left.  The recently dated correspondence should always be at the top/front.  The documents are numbered consecutively from 1 onwards.  These numbers (folios) are given to each document filed rather than to each page of the document. Folio numbers are usually in red and placed on the top right hand corner of the letter. Folio numbers are used to identify documents on a file.
  24. 27.

    Filing Mail Advantages  These numbers facilitate ease of reference

    i.e. specific items can be referred to by quoting the items folio number.  Foliating also ensures that items do not get lost i.e. it is easy to detect missing items.  It also ensures that the chronological order of the file is not disturbed. It also ensures that every item is dealt with.  It helps in creating standards sized files.  It can assist in refilling incase of a disaster.
  25. 28.

    Numbering Enclosures  Where enclosures are to be permanently retained

    on file, they should be given the same folio number as main paper, then a smaller number should be added to the number. If three enclosures were in a letter folioed 15, scenario would be:- Letter 15 1st enclosure 15a 2nd enclosure 15b 3rd enclosure 15c
  26. 29.

    Cross Referencing  Cross referencing allows a person reading one

    correspondence to turn easily to all other correspondences to which it refers.  Cross referencing may be made to the documents within the file or to other files.  To achieve this, after the papers have been placed in the correct file and given a folio number, the filing clerk will (a) Encircle in ink all reference to previous correspondence. (b) For each reference, trace the appropriate document and note on it the folio number of the document now filed.
  27. 31.

    Transferring a Document to Another File  Document transfer can

    be affected when: – an item is found to be wrongly filed – when a new file is opened and becomes necessary to transfer one of the folio to the new file – when closing an old volume and some documents on it will not have been acted upon.  In such a case, the fact is entered in a Folio Transfer form/slip and filed in place of the document transferred.  The slip should indicate the destination file and the folio number of the document it has replaced.
  28. 32.

    Transferring a Document to Another File  If transferred to

    a new volume re-number the folios commencing with „I‟. If too old file, place documents in date order according to date of receipt. Should this result in the document being placed between two existing folios e.g (66 and 67) give it a temporary prime number plus a capital letter. Thus the folio of the 1st inserted document would be 66A that of the 2nd 66B etc. Hence folios would be read e.g. 62, 63, 64, 65, 66A, 66B, 67, 68 … Cross through old folio numbers but do not obliterate it.  Alter inward mail register – by striking through the number shown in the inward mail register and write next to it in red the new file numbers.
  29. 34.

    Opening A New File  A new file is opened

    when an existing file/volume is too bulky/becomes full. It can also be opened on a new subject when no existing files matches the subject of the document received.  File folders for individual correspondents should generally be created only when 5 or more pieces of correspondence have been accumulated.  Until such a time such records are stored in a MISCELLANEOUS FILE arranged alphabetically by correspondents names.
  30. 35.

    Opening A New File  There should be set procedures

    for opening new files under the supervision of a competent officer to avert confusion. Adequate consultation must be held between the registry and the concerned action officers.  Decision to open a new file should be agreed upon with the Registry supervisor or HOD.  Once agreement is reached, the title of the file is determined. The caption should give a clear indication of what is to be found in the file. The title should be relatively specific to avoid too wide a range of correspondence from being filed in one folder.  The caption should be concise and accurately reflecting the contents of the file. A title put in very broad or general terms attract all kinds of correspondence and papers which makes the file unwildely and time consuming to trace a document.
  31. 36.

    Closing Of A File  The organization should have a

    policy stating when a file should be closed and how.  The old volume should be closed when it becomes bulky or after it attains a specific thickness or after a specified period of time.  A file may also be closed if an organization discontinues a particular activity e.g. after the end of a commission of enquiry.
  32. 37.

    Procedures Of Closing A File  The old volume should

    not be closed until all action on it has been completed. The closed volume should be entered on a semi-current closed register. The formal closing of a file means that it‟s full, number of items are awaiting attention and no further correspondence is to be placed upon it.  Ensure that there is no letter pending action. The last four letters in the file can be transferred to the new volume. Write in large letters diagonally across the front cover “CLOSED”, indicate date of closing and the number of the new file/volume and inclusive dates of the closed file.
  33. 38.

    Procedures Of Closing A File i. Examine closed files to

    remove irrelevant documents (weeding). ii. Replace worn out covers. iii. Staple old front cover to the inner side back cover of the new file. iv. Closed files must be stored separately from active file. Examine closed files after 5 years to ascertain their usefulness. v. If they have not been in use for a period of 3-5 years they should be closed. vi. Examine files alongside the existing department records retention and disposal schedule. User departments should develop their own destruction retention schedules for records that are not covered by the general disposal instructions.
  34. 39.

    Procedures Of Closing A File  Those declared as valuable

    in the schedule are systematically preserved while the valueless ones are systematically disposed off.  At the bottom of file cover is a small box headed “to be completed when file is closed”. This to be completed by a senior official in the ministry department in accordance with the disposal instructions for the Director of the National Archives.
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    Weeding  Archivist or registry supervisor should periodically check or

    browse through a file to remove any records which have become irrelevant, duplicated or out of date.
  36. 41.

    B: Out-going Mail  Out-going mail may be dispatched form

    various points of an organization. It is however best to dispatch mail from a single point e.g. central mail registry because of two reasons: i. Staff-time saving. ii. Economical in transport usage.  There are two types of out-going mail: i. Official ii. Private – Personal Assistant in normal circumstances attend to the dispatch of all letters which originate from the private office.
  37. 42.

    B: Out-going Mail Dispatched items consist of the following: i.

    Ordinary mail:- dispatched by Post Office ii. Registered mail:- dispatched by Post Office iii. Express mail:- dispatched by Post Office iv. Hand Delivery Ordinary mail To ensure that letters are posted with minimum delay, it is advisable that each corresponding officer either directly sends letters to the registry or calls a messenger to collect them.
  38. 43.

    Mail Preparation Once mail is in the registry great care

    must be provided for it. The registry staff does the sealing and franking the envelopes or affixing the postage stamps whichever may be the practice. They must ensure that: a) Check if address on envelop or economy label is correct and sufficient. b) All out-going mail is recorded in the outward correspondence register. The register should contain the following basic information.
  39. 44.

    Mail Preparation (c) That outgoing letters are signed properly, referenced

    and addressed properly. (d) Copies of the out-going correspondence have been filed in the appropriate files. (e) The enclosures mentioned are attached to the letters. (f) Float copies are filed. (g) The float file is circulated at the time laid down. (h) Check if all necessary enclosures are in the envelope.
  40. 45.

    Out-going Mail Register Originating Department within the Organization File Reference

    No.s file containing copy) Date when letter was sent out Subject of the letter Receiving agency Address recepient Reference Correspondent
  41. 46.

    Floater File  A float file is sometimes referred to

    as a daily or flimsy file. It is a folder containing third copies of out-going correspondence.  The out-going mail register is kept together with a floater file. The outgoing register gives a permanent record over a period, while float copies are destroyed within a year.  Such a file affords the officers the opportunity to keep track of what is happening in the organization. Regular browsing of the daily file makes it possible to know whether correspondence is being kept in the right files. It also enables action officers to quickly correct any mistakes that may have occurred during writing of the letters.
  42. 48.

    Delivery Book  A delivery book serves as a receipt

    of the delivered mail. The messenger taking the letter by hand must obtain the name and signature of the receiving officer against the entry of the mail in the provided column of the delivery book.  If a signature is not obtained, then by inference, the issuing officer is responsible in case of non-receipt. If a signature is obtained the recipient must have lost or misfiled the communication.
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  44. 50.

    Electronic Mail  In most cases, the electronic mail is

    received through the computer with Internet connectivity.  Private electronic mails should be sent to the recipient, while official mail should be treated in the normal manner as written official correspondence.  As the procedures of handling electronic mail has not been fully developed in most organizations, it is important the management of organizations should urgently lay down rules governing the handling of their electronic mail.
  45. 51.

    Out-going electronic mail  It is strongly recommended that before

    sending out electronic mail it should be saved in the hard disk or in other storage devises.  A hard copy should also be printed and filed in the appropriate file.
  46. 52.

    Security of electronic mail  Unlike paper record, electronic mail

    is so vulnerable to manipulation to the extent of being lost. The management should therefore endeavor to have adequate security safeguards for the electronic mail. It is important that attempts should be made to keep the electronic mail in the hard copy as a back up.  To avoid importing viruses it is advisable to scan the texts for viruses before downloading it. This service is provided free by some Internet service providers and should be exploited.
  47. 53.

    Practices That Contribute To Poor Mail Management  Experience has

    shown that certain practices contribute to poor mail management. Some o these are: ◦ Unclear definition of duties and responsibilities. ◦ Lack of appropriate tools and equipment o Lack of above effects service delivery in the registry. o Such equipments as computers, sorting trays, benches, chairs, storage cabinets/shelves etc are required.
  48. 55.

    Practices That Contribute To Poor Mail Management  Use of

    out-dated procedures - In certain cases registry staff may tend to lack some innovativeness. They want to do things “the way they have always been done ”regardless that the situation may have changed.  Untrained staff - In certain cases registry staff are untrained. There is a general notion that anybody can do filing. Consequently, registries have been places where „criminals‟ or those fallen out with the administration are sent to work regardless of whether they know filing or not. The effect is obvious. Misfiling everywhere!
  49. 56.

    Practices That Contribute To Poor Mail Management  Indiscipline staff

    - Discipline is an important aspect in human relations. Without discipline work will not be well executed. Staff will report late or do very little for the day. Others may start using corrupt practices such as asking for bribes.  Infrequent or lack of messenger service - Availability of a reliable messenger service contributes tremendously to the success of the registry service.
  50. 57.

    Practices That Contribute To Poor Mail Management  Poor filing

    systems - Systems not easily understood. Hence contributes to delays in filing or retrieval services.  Lack of or out-of-date mail guide to determine accurate routing. - Without proper tracking aids, documents can easily get lost.