On a daily basis, your business creates and handles hundreds of documents. These documents detail processes, convey product specifications and provide instruction to other employees as well as customers.
Numerous documents – regardless of their context – flow into and out of your organization every day with one thing remaining constant: Various people inside and outside your organization need access to them.
How do you control what is done with these documents? An inconsistent and undisciplined approach to managing sensitive documents and protecting confidential information could put your business at risk.
What NOT To Do When Approaching Enterprise Content Management
At the start of any software project, do not let the technology determine policies in your organization.
In terms of ECM technology, be sure that the method of sensitive document control makes the most sense for your business. Establish document control principles and practices in advance of implementing an ECM system.
Processes and policies inform the development, distribution, approval, editing, storage, security and destruction of documents in your organization. The technology should be an added layer to these processes once they have been established throughout your business.
Where To Start With Sensitive Document Control Policies
So, how do you start creating practices and processes around how your business creates, manages and maintains documents?
To help you get started, below are a set of questions to ask about your documents and how your organization handles them:
- How do employees create new documents? Who authorizes or establishes that need?
- How are new documents maintained once they are drafted?
- Who needs access to these documents, and where are they located in the business?
- What standard document types are currently floating around your business?
- How do you limit the amount of document versions or duplicates? How do you know which version is the canonical document?
- Are documents always dated with approval, review and revision dates?
- What evidence is available for document approval?
- How do you know what changes were made to a document?
- How do you restrict the use of documents – from access to copying to printing to emailing?
Where ECM Enters The Document Lifecycle
After you establish the policies and practices to manage the documents flowing through your business, it’s worth taking a look at some ECM features that increase your level of document control:
Access Rights: Establishing levels of permissions for specific groups of users makes it more difficult for authorized people to access documents.
Audit Trails And Reporting: Document transparency is critical for control. Who has accessed which document at which time? In terms of compliance, being able to quickly produce a report that lists all users who have accessed the document and what changes they made is extremely powerful.
Archiving And Purging: Instead of worrying about when to dispose of documents, establish document retention rules at the outset and alleviate your organization from the risk of holding onto expired documents for too long.
Disaster Recovery: Creating backups of documents enhances security and storage by ensuring that your organization’s information is off-site and secure.
Digital Signature: Provides forgery-proof, two-factor identification that also ensure no changes have been made to a document after it has been electronically signed.
Avoiding Out-Of-Control Document Risks
Document control is important in any line of business.
Whether you’re concerned with protecting confidential information or establishing better regulatory compliance procedures, you need extensive document controls.
At the end of the day, this is all about formulating better business processes to create a healthier, more profitable organization.
Learn more about enterprise content management.