I use a system that begins with the year, initials of the lender, and an ascending running count. Makes it easy for me to readily identify the year a report was done, and who it was done for. 03XM12115, woul be done in 2003 for XMortgage, and the 12,115 th report.
My system started this year as M3 (3rd year in the new millenium), 01 (first month of the year) and 01 (first appraisal assignment logged in that month). Thus the first file # is M30101. The last # for last year was M21231 - which ment that I logged in 31 assignments for all of the month of December of 2002.
I print the # on the file folder tab and file them sequentially. That makes it easy to identify reports that are over 5 years old that can be purged from the office - saving space.
This system works well for my small, one person appraisal business because at my age, I do not intend to take on more than 99 assignments is any one month.
Our system is very simple (even the appraiser can understand it)
Take the last digit of the year in which the order was actually received/logged in and the three digit sequential number of the order as it came in. Combine the two numbers and this is the file number.
Example: The 18th order received since January 1, 2003 was assigned file number 3018. The 498th order received in 2002 was assigned file number 2498. The 229th order received in 2000 was assigned file number 0229.
We can tell at a glance what year an old order was done. This is the file number assigned in the software.
Long time ago I began putting in the assignments in a wire-bound book - those things you buy in the college bookstore for class notes for each course. The numbers have always run consecutively, and I just put in the date, client, & address. The rest of the data is put into the computer when I write the report. That way if the client calls for one that I did several or a few years ago and gives me my file number, I can just go to the book if it is no longer in the computer and pick it out immediately. Now it is a simple four digit number and by the time I retire I'll know exactly how many assignments I've done. Simple, but a good backup for lost computer data.
I utilize an 8 digit #. I start with 2 digits for the month, 2 digits for the last two numbers of the year & finally 4 digits for the job #. My first file # for this year was 01030001. I used 4 digits for the job # because @ the time I started the system I didn't know if I wanted to hire lots of other appraisers at some point in the future. Now I know I don't but I'm used to the system.