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Document classification chart: what it is and how it is elaborated

Learn how to create a document classification chart effectively by following this guide and practical tips.
Picture of Manuel Aguirre

Manuel Aguirre

In document management, the creation of a Document Classification Chart -DCC- is a key step towards the efficient organization of information. In this article, we explain what a classification chart is and why it is essential, while providing practical information on how to create it.

What is a document classification chart?

The concept of a “document classification chart” has its roots in document management and archival science. This term is used to describe a structured system that organizes and classifies documents within an organization. Its origin is found in the principles of archival science, the discipline in charge of managing documents in an organized and efficient manner.

The document classification chart is essentially a tool that provides a framework for organizing documents into logical and coherent categories. This classification facilitates efficient information retrieval, decision making and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

Modern archival science has evolved to adapt to the changing needs of organizations in the digital age. With the advancement of technology, document classification charts have been integrated into document management systems to offer more agile and effective solutions for document organization and retrieval. In essence, the concept comes from the need to structure and manage information efficiently in any organizational environment.

Why is the Document Classification Chart important?

The document classification chart plays a fundamental role in the efficient management of documents within an organization. Its importance lies in the effective structuring and organization of information, providing a number of key benefits:

  • Effective organization

It lies in its ability to establish an organized system of document disposition. This facilitates the identification and quick retrieval of information, reducing the time spent on tedious searches.

  • Quick access to information

By providing a logical structure, the classification chart allows quick and efficient access to information. This streamlines internal processes by ensuring that users can find what they need.

  • Upgrading decision making

A well-designed classification chart contributes to more informed decision making. The rapid availability of relevant information enables informed and accurate decisions to be generated.

  • Optimization of internal processes

The importance lies in the contribution to operational efficiency. By organizing documents according to the organization’s workflows, internal processes are optimized for a more coherent operation.

  • Regulatory compliance

The document classification chart is crucial to comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to document retention and management. This avoids penalties and ensures compliance with specific regulations.

  • Preservation of relevant documents

Facilitates the identification and preservation of documents that are important to the business, ensuring that critical information is properly managed over time.

  • Adaptability to change

Its importance is highlighted in its ability to adapt as needs and organizational structure evolve. This flexibility allows you to adjust the classification to changes in business processes and requirements.


How to create a Document Classification Chart?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create an effective document classification chart:

Step 1: Define objectives and scope

Before you begin, it is essential to understand the specific objectives of document classification. Define the scope of the chart, identifying the categories of documents to be included and the purpose of their classification.

Step 2: Analyze existing documents

Make an inventory of existing documents. Classify and group similar documents to identify patterns and determine the main categories you will need in your classification chart.

Step 3: Establish categories and subcategories

Based on the document analysis, create major categories that reflect the key functions and activities of your organization. Break these categories into more specific subcategories for detailed organization.

Step 4: Assign Identification Codes or Numbers

Assign unique codes or numbers to each category and subcategory. This coding system will make it easier to reference and retrieve documents in the future.


Step 5: Create a logical hierarchy

Organize categories and subcategories in a logical hierarchical structure. This reflects the relationship between different types of documents and will simplify navigation in the classification system.

Step 6: Document the classification table

Develop clear documentation that explains the structure of the classification table, the criteria for inclusion in each category, and any other relevant details. This will be useful for future training and reference. An example of how to document the classification table can be found here.

Step 7: Implement and communicate

Implement the document classification chart and communicate changes to employees. Provide training on how to use the system and make sure everyone is familiar with the new structure.

Step 8: Review and adjust regularly

Records management is a dynamic process. Schedule regular reviews of the document classification scheme to ensure that it remains relevant and efficient. It is appropriate to make adjustments as needed.

By following these steps, you will be able to develop a document classification chart that optimizes the organization and accessibility of your documents, contributing to effective document management in your organization.

Level structure of the documentary classification charts

Document classification levels provide an organized and systematic structure for the efficient management of documents within an organization. The main classification levels are detailed below:


Represents the documents produced by an individual or legal entity in the exercise of its functions. This level covers the totality of the documentation generated by the entity and constitutes the starting point for classification.

2. Section or Subsection

This refers to the subdivision of the collection into more specific areas, identified with the documentary production of a division or department within the organization. Each section or subsection may contain documents related to specific activities or functions.

3. Documentary Series

Corresponds to documentary units of homogeneous structure and content that emanate from the same producing subject. Examples of documentary series include work histories, contracts, financial reports, among others. The documentary series groups documents related by subject or type.

4. Documentary sub-series

These are documentary units that are part of a series identified separately due to their specific characteristics. For example, within the contracts series, there could be a subseries of lease contracts or a subseries of purchase and sale contracts.

5. Simple Documentary Unit

Represents the smallest unit of information within the classification system. These are individual documents or discrete units that can be identified and managed independently. Examples of documentary units include letters, invoices, reports, etc.

6. Complex Documentary Unit (Records)

This level corresponds to documents organized and grouped by the producer of the documentation for a specific purpose. Files may contain a variety of documents related to a particular subject or process, and their structure may vary according to the needs of the organization.


How to implement the classification table in Athento

In Athento it is possible to define classification tables according to different strategies:

  • Field-based classification chart -CC-: the most powerful method, since it allows exploiting and accessing each and every one of the data that define the document classification.
  • Space-based classification chart: it allows the creation of a space for each document series and simple folders can be used to represent the subseries, as well as folderish forms.
control documental, cuadro de clasificación documental
  • Mixed classification: this strategy combines the power of exploiting the fields of the first method and the benefit of limiting access to the document series level (of the second method).

The document classification table offers a single distribution that covers all the company’s documents, facilitating the search and retrieval of information. By providing a context for the creation of series and their relationship with other series, the classification chart avoids duplication and promotes efficient and organized document management.

In conclusion, the development of a document classification chart is a fundamental step to optimize document management in any organization. It provides order, accessibility and efficiency in handling vital information. By following this process, a solid foundation is established to upgrade internal processes, decision-making and comply with regulatory requirements.

If you want to know how to digitize the implementation of a document classification scheme and transform the processes that revolve around documents in your organization, write to us.