Document Management and How To Do It The Right Way
Finding documents when you need them the most is so important to maintaining a workflow and keeping your company running smoothly.
But not everyone is able to stay on top of the pile of documents.
Why is that?
Like any type of management system, it’s all in how you categorize and search for different items.
And sure, if you have one document detailing basic procedures and a set of rules…
You won’t get overrun.
But if your enterprise works with a lot of procedures, internal documents, and even documentation for different projects, basic Google Drive won’t be enough.
So, for those of us that need to sort through their documents better…
We have Document Management Systems.
What Is A Document Management System?
“Document management, often referred to as Document Management Systems (DMS), is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper-based information captured through the use of a document scanner.
Document management is how your organization stores, manages and tracks its electronic documents.”
Simply put, it’s how you manage files.
And it can be a doozy if you don’t do it right.
But it can also power-up your organization if you manage to create a good DMS.
To get a grasp on its utility,think about blogging without a CMS like Wordpress.
It would get messy.
This is what a good Document Management System does: it lets you get an overview of your documents.
In fact, early Document Management Systems are the precursors of your modern CMS. After the DOM (Document Object Model) was introduced in 1997, CMS started borrowing features from early DMS to grow into what we know today as Content Management Systems.
However, a good overview is not everything you get.
So, let’s talk about benefits.
Benefits of Good Document Management
Before though, a small caveat.
None of these benefits apply if you create a poor DMS.
If you try to bootstrap it and you launch it halfway…
Or if you don’t know how to incentivize its use, your DMS won’t help. That’s why we recommend partnering up with a company versed in setting up complex IT systems.
If you got that covered, you can expect…
#1 A Better Workflow for Your Entire Team
Whether you need Marketing to create a good message for your next campaign, Product to work on developing your MVP, or Support to access the right answer when they’re on the phone, a good DMS has you covered.
Everyone can do their job better, because you streamline their search for answers and you have them collaborate better.
#2 Easier Onboarding
Hiring new people is complicated if you want to pull it off.
But that’s just the beginning.
Up next, you need to get them up to speed to your:
- Best Practices
- Market Knowledge
And when you have them all spread out over tons of emails or haphazardly created documents, it will be a struggle.
But if you set-up a hub for your knowledge - a good DMS - you can improve onboarding.
#3 An Easier Audit
Sure, you may never need to audit your documents and practices.
(We still recommend you do)
However, if you’re dreaming of a big exit, or you just want to be prepared for any government check-up, auditing is something you need to think about.
And a good DMS will help with that.
Especially when we’re talking about board meeting minutes, for example.
But anyone that does their due diligence on your company will need access to everything else too.
#4 Improved Employee Engagement
Sure, this is an indirect benefit.
But when you enable your team to perform at their best with the right systems in place, you can expect an increased employee engagement.
And that’s extremely important, especially considering that only a third of all employees plan to remain at their current workplace for more than a year.
How does this work?
Employee engagement is closely linked to the sense of achievement you get in the workplace. Simply put, all those benefits we talked about regarding better collaboration, easier access to information and smoother onboarding translate into happier, more productive employees.
#5 A Decluttered Management
Here’s the bottom line for you:
A well set-up DMS answers questions.
What product feature should we focus on in this campaign?
Where do I clock the time spent on these tasks?
How do our clients overcome that specific problem?
Where are those rules defined?
A DMS answers all of those questions.
Want to know who must answer them if you don’t have a DMS?
Which means they’ll be stuck putting out fires before they can focus on expanding your business, whether we’re talking about a department head, a team leader, or even a CEO.
So, you can see why document management is something to focus on.
But where do you start?
How to Set-up A DMS
First, we don’t recommend creating a DMS from the ground up.
It will be time consuming, and you probably won’t get it right from your first try.
There are better ways to go about it.
Companies like Google, Adobe or Microsoft have their own DMS for corporate use, so you should look into that.
As a side note, we work with OneDrive and SharePoint integrated with the rest of MS 365 tools, and we’ve set-up a lot of clients with that, so we recommend choosing it. We trust Microsoft’s architecture and their solution checks every box.
What boxes should a DMS check?
Maybe you don’t trust our Microsoft endorsement and you want to pick something else.
What do you look for?
A document management system should at least have the following features:
- A way to edit documents without overwriting someone else’s edits
- Roll-back, or a way to restore a file to some previous version
- Annotations and Stamps
- Version Control
- Audit trail
- Secure access to certain files
- Access control and different levels of access
- Workflows: approvals, archiving, locking
- Notifications for document changes
And this is a case of the more, the merrier.
But don’t forget to take your needs into account, as well as to compare options based on cost and the ROI you can get out of a document management system.
But that’s not all.
Sure, you can just find the best software for you and subscribe.
But if that was all you needed, you could just sign-up for a corporate account on Google Drive and that was it.
No, if you want to take it a step further you should consider a personalized solution. We recommend working with an IT partner to not only purchase a document management software, but also implement it in a way that helps your company.
This could either be by integration with other software like Salesforce, SharePoint, or even an Intranet.
(And yes, intranets are still relevant in 2020. Here’s why)
Or even by creating custom software to enhance your company’s workflow.
Either way, you need a professional to get the most out of a DMS.
If you got that covered, let’s see what you can hope to achieve - and how.
How To Use A DMS
Even if you have the perfect tech solution - filled with the right customizations and interfaces - your job still isn’t done.
You need to put in some elbow grease as you’re getting started, because a DMS won’t populate itself.
Sure, some technologies allow for a smooth transition.
For example, a customized OneDrive can easily take all Microsoft Office documents created previously.
So that won’t be so much of a fuss.
But if you’re changing technologies, you need to check everything for formatting. Some spaces may appear in less than ideal spaces, and some images might just…
But that’s not all.
To really make use of a Document Management System, you need to set a few things up.
First, create a rule for how you name documents.
You want everything to be easily found with a quick search, so you can go for the classic folder structure and a numbered naming convention.
Up next, don’t forget to set-up some metadata.
You didn’t pay for a DMS so you can just do what you would’ve done on a simple shared folder.
So, make sure you get descriptions and tags in place, so you can increase the usefulness of your document management system.
On top, it’s not all about you.
Put these things down somewhere.
Make sure everyone works with the DMS by a set of rules (can be automated), because otherwise all your naming and sorting will be in vain.
After that, set some clear roles and structures for your DMS.
Sensitive data and industry knowledge shouldn’t necessarily be available to everyone, so put it in a secure folder.
On top, you don’t need to share every bit of information with everyone.
Any operative or specialist that doesn’t work on a specific client, for example, shouldn’t have access to all the data about that client.
And this isn’t about hiding information.
It’s just easier to do your job when your workspace isn’t cluttered.
Lastly, be on the lookout for optimizations.
You should always keep your employees in the loop about what’s happening, especially with such a hub that is designed to help everyone.
And keeping them in the loop isn’t just about barking orders.
Make sure they understand the need for a DMS and teach them how to use it.
Don’t take this lightly.
You’ll be setting all of this up in vain if they’re not on board.
To Wrap It Up
A document management system can help you:
- Increase Productivity
- Streamline your team’s work
- Onboard new employees easier
- Declutter Management
- Increase employee engagement
And so much more…
...But only if you do it right.
And we hope we taught you how to do that.
What do you think about document management?