We have all had our own share of creating and managing documents in our careers at some point in time. Ranging from a basic excel sheet of contact details to complex financial asset sheets for an entire company, documents surround us in one way or the other.
“Nothing beats the classics,” a phrase quite true to most things; however, it is not true for technology. Especially when it comes to document management systems, strategies need not be classic but rather organized for better retrieval. Whether you are in a two-person startup or a 200,000 people conglomerate, documents are imperative, and hence, the document management system becomes crucial.
You could always try out every permutation and combination to store the documents and then cross-reference them with a benchmark. But it is a time-consuming and tedious process. Though it wouldn’t be hard to find someone to do that. It would be best to leave the old ways in the ’90s, where the data was not too much but just enough to manage as compared to today.
For the fast-paced and modern world of today, a more up-to-date system with our current norms is required. This will have several benefits besides the primary one – peace of mind. Other benefits are:
- Better efficiency in workflow
- Better compliance
- Reduction of risk of exposure or “hacking”
- Protection of proprietary and sensitive data
- Improves productivity
- Personalization and cross-platform sharing of information
Looking for Document Management Software? Check out SoftwareSuggest’s list of the best document management software solutions.
So what are the steps that you can take to build the perfect system to create, share, handle, and overall, manage documents? We bring you 11 steps that you can take to come up with your ideal document management strategy:
Now that you have the essential roadmap about what it entails in creating a document management system, let’s explore each detail.
Win on Document Management Strategy in 11 Simple Steps
Step 1 – Assess your current document management system
If you are running a team, a company, or a conglomerate, chances are that you are already using a document management system. It could be a pure hardcore document-based system, or it could be a hybrid system using both online and offline storage systems.
However, neither method can be useful if not optimized properly. The first step is to identify the system’s shortcomings and understand a need for a better system.
Most of it should revolve around how information is received, processed, approved/rejected, stored, modified, and ultimately kept or deleted (not particularly in that order). These are the basic tasks that document management should accomplish. You could face a problem with one of them or all of them.
Try and find out the problems you want to solve with this system upgrade and list them out, categorically if possible.
Step 2 – Assemble a document management team
If you have a dedicated team for legal document management, then set them down. And if there hasn’t been a team in place, then it’s time to build one. It could involve you or some of your most efficient workers who have exemplary reporting and document handling skills.
This might seem like a chore at first, and you might want to debate the merits of a dedicated document management team. But in the long run, you will thank yourself for building this team as they will make your job a whole lot easier.
Step 3 – Chalk out a target and goals roadmap with the team
Once your team is in place, call a meeting and address your concerns. This team should understand what your targets and goals are. Take their feedback about your ideas and be open to interpretation about their opinions as well. Whether your goal is to fasten the document retrieval process or make a more streamlined document generation system, discuss all ideas.
This way, they will feel valued as a team member and help make your process more streamlined. Furthermore, there could be a chance that a team member might suggest an even more precise plan to iron out all the kinks in the system while achieving most of the targets. In the meantime, also do an inventory of the documents that you have so far.
Step 4 – Choose what kind of storage and management system you want to implement
When you step into the market to look for a document management system, you will be bombarded with choices. Some will suggest a dedicated cloud server, a localized server, someone might tell their proprietary hard proof method, or someone might suggest something else.
The entire puzzle revolves around which system you want to implement and feel you might be comfortable with. All of this will revolve around the points you gathered in Step 3. Consider the choice between all systems and the factors relating to them. The costs, effort required, improvement in efficacy, and overall productivity of the system. And then finalize a system.
Step 5 – Develop a document management plan
A winning document management strategy entails a fair bit of planning and execution. You cannot build one unless you are clear of the targets and goals. Your system should factor in things like:
- Process standardization– Standardisation of how documents are labeled, processed, reviewed, stored, retrieved, and deleted. This can be inter-departmental, intra-departmental, or across the entire company)
- Process improvement and automation– Some processes can be improved or automated in real-time to save time and redundant tasks.
- Personnel Authorization– Dedicated team members will control the flow of document access, approvals, and permissions of who can access a document.
- Data Backup and Recovery plan– Despite our best efforts, data breaches are becoming more common day by day. Keeping an offshore backup of the data or a recovery plan can help you save your data in case of a breach.
You may like: Benefits and Process of Document Lifecycle Management
Furthermore, also keep in mind the following points for best document management strategy-
- Get content from the source if possible– Your management system should capture data in the electronic form itself and not need a scan or print system. This will ensure the sanctity of the system and reduce manual labor.
- Index data while upholding business goals– The entire system is in place to service business needs. The indexing process should be detailed but straightforward as well. This will help in capturing only the data relevant to your business goals and unnecessary scrap junk.
- Automation– The more you automate, the more you will clear space in the employees’ schedule to concentrate and synergize towards your business goals. Furthermore, some of the information that is difficult to access manually can be done quickly via automation. However, make sure that automation is in the place where it has the most impact.
- Employee satisfaction– The document management system’s entire purpose is to make your and your employees’ lives easier. Make sure that the system is serving those needs. Ensure a clean and straightforward interface that is relevant to the needs of each employee. And if possible, automate some processes.
Step 6 – Include the accessibility and security systems needed
the best document Management Strategy is, Being a startup or a conglomerate, all of your documents should be protected and secured. So, when you are putting together a document management system, make sure that you factor in a security system. This will help keep your data safe from “hackers” and other people who should not be accessing your documents.
This might seem costly at first, but there are hundreds of security systems for document management systems. Choose the one that suits your needs and budgets, and you are well on your way to keeping your data not only optimally retrievable but also protected.
Step 7 – Implement a preliminary test run of the new system and collect feedback
Once you have devised your strategy and delegated responsibilities to everyone, the time arrives to put it to the test. Have a dry run of the system for about 1-2 weeks, depending on your firm size and comfort level. Observe how things are progressing with the new system in place.
What are the aspects that the team members are struggling with, and what are they excelling at? Most importantly, figure out if any or all of your goals are being met. Take notes of every step and observe all are the things that need to be worked on later.
Step 8 – Get back to the drawing board to figure out and incorporate the changes (if any)
Now that the system has been observed and inspected, one shall gather the team again. Ask for their feedback about how they felt working with the new systems. What were the things they liked or disliked, and what were their apprehensions? If you feel like someone’s performance was subpar, let them know, along with ways to solve those problems.
Give them your observations about the system, and then take their suggestions about bettering the system overall. This might be the fine-tuning step, so make sure to iron out all the kinks properly before putting them to the test again. Any shortcuts here can cause significant problems later.
You may like: 9 Document Management Best Practices: You Must Know
Step 9 – Have a test run with the suggested changes and collect feedback
Once you have ironed out the kinks to the best of your abilities, but the document management system to the test again for the same duration as before. Repeat all the methods of Step 7 and record all the observations.
The chances are that now you might not see any problems or only minor ones. Whatever they may be, write them down.
Step 10 – Standardize the document management system
You have spent more than a month putting together the system, the team, and the overall process of streamlining the document management. Now, it’s time to have a final meeting with the team to take their feedback.
Most of it might be optimistic. So, standardize the system and get down to business. This ordeal of a few weeks will result in peace of mind in the long run.
Step 11 – Maintain it for Seamless Function
The last step for document management strategy is post getting acquainted with the new document management system, it’s time to conduct regular checks of the system for smoothness and overall productivity.
Furthermore, the system should also be secure, so a full security rundown and system maintenance will help you plan for any contingency preemptively. Also, make sure to maintain a backup of all the documents so that you can access them in times of duress.
Conclusion – Decide what works, and don’t be afraid to mix it up!
Overall, various methods can work for optimal document management. Ranging from a single type of system to hybridization to a separate system for each department, you can decide and assess the needs. And then, come up with a perfect system that compliments your business goals and helps you get closer to them, one document at a time.