For as long as businesses have existed, paper has been there. Whether it is forms, invoices, communications, reports - it all exists on paper. Massive filing cabinets filled with it; warehouses full of boxes of paper that nobody has touched in twenty years. Thankfully, technology has progressed, and the amount of paper has diminished. But documents do still exist in paper format, and finding a way to manage them is critical to keep a business running efficiently. That's where document management comes in.
Document management is essential to maintain organization within your business, and a document management software program will help your business to control the paper you deal with every day. Document management software is essentially a program that helps your business "file" your papers in a way that's organized and simplified in an electronic document repository. This repository allows you to index, store and retrieve documents quickly and easily, creating a clean, organized digital filing system.
So how can your business benefit from implementing a document management software program?
- One central location for all documents. Think about how you currently store documents. Does each department do their own thing? Do you have a file room? Are files easily accessible to those who need them? And even if you are scanning documents, in most cases, again, documents are filed by department. With a document management program, your business can centralize documents in one place in digital format. This centralized location allows everyone to know where document storage will happen, and it allows for control over documents. Users can search and find documents, work on them and then save them back into the repository, allowing everyone to have the most up-to-date versions at all times.
- Access controls. When filing cabinets full of documents are scattered throughout your company, it makes it difficult for employees to find documents they need to get their jobs done. With document management, employees will be able to easily find what they need in the most current version.
- Better Backup and Disaster Recovery. When companies have cabinets of papers filed all over, and documents aren't scanned, the chance that documents can be lost or destroyed exists. With document management, all files are scanned to electronic version and won't be vulnerable to natural elements. With these electronic files, the danger of files being accidentally lost or thrown away is also negated.
- Document Security. All businesses have documents that are not meant to available to all employees. This includes payroll documents, employee personal information and HR records. With a document management system, files can be locked down with secure passwords to limit the people who can view, modify or download them. With security measures in place, your sensitive data stays safe from potential breach.
All of these benefits are pros to why you need a document management system. But without following some best practices, your business may not realize all of these benefits. Here are some tips to help you make your system run properly.
- Put in Place a Uniform Document Retention Policy. With paper filing, everyone tends to keep what THEY think is important. With a document management program, your business can create a strategy for uniform document retention. Your program administrator can set up rules for deleting or modifying documents that restrict those items until a specified maturity date is reached. Administrators can also make modifications for specific files such as when documents can be archived or copied, along with assigning permissions to only certain people.
- Consistent Naming Policy. With document management, the guidelines for naming files MUST BE consistent. Without strict guidelines, finding files will be incredibly challenging for employees. Many times, your document management software will provide universal, pre-defined document names that employees can use to keep naming documents consistent. If that pre-defined method doesn't work for your company, you can customize your own naming convention. Just be sure that all of your employees understand and use these guidelines at all times.
- Metadata Replaces Your Folders. Imagine you have folders where you file documents. With these folders, you need to always remember where you put the documents. Metadata allows you to file your documents not based on WHERE they are, but WHAT they are. With file folders, you also may have to file documents in multiple places to be compliant with your filing methods. Metadata also helps your employees find the types of documents they need quickly.
With all of the benefits of a document management system, finding the one that works best for your business is most important. Following best practices will make your system run smoothly, and the proper training of employees will make the transition to a digital system more seamless. Protecting your data, being able to easily find your documents when you need them and setting up good documenting practices will keep your business running smoothly, helping you save both time and money.