How to apply document management best practices at your company
1. Start with goals and develop key metrics
Being specific is important. Are you trying to help users find documents more quickly? Save on document storage costs? Improve collaboration? Re-engineer manual processes?
Before you implement a document management solution, determine the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) required to measure progress toward goals. Then, set a baseline you can benchmark against your existing system.
For example, you may discover it takes 10 minutes to process an invoice with your current system and find out it only takes two minutes after using digital document management for a month. Sharing these measurable successes with your colleagues is a powerful way to show the value of the project and encourage user adoption as you move forward.
2. Prioritize automation of simple and frequently used business processes
3. Improve paper-based processes instead of emulating them
4. Capture content close to the point of origin
5. Make sure the user interface is straightforward and intuitive
6. Take advantage of the cloud
When you opt for cloud-based document management, the service provider assumes responsibility for system upgrades and security patches. That makes it easier for businesses to scale without investing in more in-house IT resources. Cloud document management systems also work for staff on mobile devices wherever there's an internet connection, supporting secure remote work environments and greater flexibility for teams.
7. Create consistent folder and document type structures
Of course, anywhere work capability isn't nearly as handy if no one can find the documents they need quickly. Before you launch a new document management system, take time to consider how you want your teams to use it and what that means for folder and document type naming and indexing conventions.
8. Set up (and follow) version-control policies
Understanding what exactly has changed between document versions and ensuring users only edit the most current version is an important part of maintaining document integrity.
With version control, you can automatically save edited documents as a new version. DocuWare's version history shows the version numbers, the status, the storage date, any comments, and the name of the user who saved the document.
If version management is enabled, when you save a new version or check a document into a file cabinet, a new version number is assigned to it. In the case of manual check-in, you can select a main and sub-number, but if you're using automatic version management, the system assigns a number. You can check out individual or multiple documents and edit them in your document tray or within a folder. Locking “checked out” documents keep changes from being made while someone else is editing a document and maintains an accurate record of who changed what.
9. Use electronic signatures for tighter security and easier compliance
10. Streamline approval workflows with automation
Consider this example: A company's education department creates training documents that will be shared with all employees. Before each piece can be published, it must go through the following process:
- Content is outlined by subject matter experts
- A staff member in the education department creates a draft based on the outline
- The draft is reviewed by someone else for accuracy and flow
- The draft is edited by a line editor
- The final draft is sent to the creative department to add a little design flair and finalize the documents before publishing
11. Set up a free trial account
Taking software for a test run is better than any discussion of how it works in theory. A hands-on experience with DocuWare Smart Document Control is a great place to start.
Develop a better understanding of document management by uploading your own documents and using DocuWare's “Your First Steps” guide and knowledge base documentation. Smart Document Control is a ready-to-use cloud document management system with prebuilt digital file cabinets, document storage, sharing settings and many other features.
Frequently Asked Questions About Document Management
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