Your working environment can put a lot of stress on your employees. The good news is, looking into your organization's document management processes can help reduce the strain on your overworked team.
If your teams are stressed out or bogged down by clunky document workflows or outdated processes, it's likely time to assess your organization's approach to document management. In this post, we'll explore the benefits of using a document management system and share several tips to help you refine your document management processes.
1. Examine Existing Document Management Processes
Before you can improve your document management practices, you need a clear understanding of how your employees work with physical and digital files today. Poorly managed documents can add loads of stress to your office team, so be realistic and note the positive and negative aspects of your current processes.
First, you'll need to find out if your business documents follow pre-established workflows, or if they're created and scattered around, cluttering up your office. If your office relies on paper-based documents and file cabinets, take inventory of all the documents you currently have on file. Find out if your filing system works effectively, and ask employees how long it takes them to hunt down necessary documents.
Use this opportunity to evaluate file accessibility and security, too. Can anyone in the office open a filing cabinet or look up a file in your cloud-based drive? Do you have processes in place to hold team members accountable for updates to certain files or proper re-shelving of paper-based references?
With a clear view of the good, bad, and ugly of your current document management process, you'll be able to start charting a course to more efficient operations.
2. Map Out Each Stage of Your Document Lifecycles
Examining your document lifecycle can help you and your team become more organized and less stressed. A document lifecycle can vary by document type, retention needs, and other variables. In general, there are some standard lifecycle stages:
- Creation: A new document is created to record a specific business activity. This could be a new customer form or the generation of an invoice.
- Active Use - The document is actively referenced, processed, or regularly updated.
- Storage and Retention - The document is no longer in active use but needs to be stored for future reference or to comply with legal requirements.
- Destruction - The document is no longer needed and needs to be disposed of according to pre-determined company policies.
Start the assessment process by identifying the primary types of documents your business manages on a regular basis — think patient or records, contact lists, signed contracts, etc. Then, map out how your employees currently manage each document type across the entire lifecycle, asking questions like:
- Do we have storage and retention policies in place for all documents?
- Which documents are automatically printed instead of being stored in digital format?
- What legal requirements do we need to follow across document management efforts?
Identify the gaps across lifecycles, and use your insights to start establishing best practices for every type of document your teams manage. This is also a good time to implement document-related policies around printing, access controls, and file storage.
3. Invest in a Right-Fit Document Management System
Document management software digitizes your paper documents and gives your team instant access to files of almost any kind. These software solutions allow your team to instantly access critical files that used to live only in a file cabinet.
Implementing a document management system gives your employees a repeatable, scalable way to keep track of documents and protect sensitive information from potential threats, like cyberattacks or fire-preventing sprinkler systems on the ceiling of your storage facility.
Benefits of Document Management Systems
- Remote Flexibility: Your employees can access, update, and share digital documents whether they're in the office, working from home, or sitting at the airport, thanks to cloud-based file storage that's ideal for distributed teams.
- Centralized Repository: A document management system centralizes document storage so teams can easily locate, and reference them. Plus, it ensures everyone works from the same source of truth, not outdated versions of a training manual, sales report, or team roster.
- Data Protection: Unlike filing cabinets that can get damaged or broken into, document management software includes automatic cloud backup and data recovery features that protect your documents from unauthorized access and unexpected on-prem server outages.
- Increased Efficiency: The right document management solution boosts productivity and gives employees more time back in their days. They'll find files in seconds by searching an organized, digital repository as opposed to sifting through stacks of paper or cluttered filing cabinets.
Standardizing how all files are scanned, sorted, stored, and accessed will immediately improve your organization's workflows and set you up for long-term success. Even if staff members change over the years, you will have a concrete system in place that any new team member will be able to use and understand right away.
4. Find the Right Technology Partner
The reap the benefits of a document management system, you need the right business technology partner to support its installation, integration, and ongoing maintenance.
Your new software will make up one part of your larger document and business workflows, which means they should recommend solutions that complement your existing systems, not complicate them with tricky integrations or workarounds.
At UBEO, we go beyond standard software implementations and one-off solutions. Instead, we conduct a deep dive into your organization to identify the best technologies to support your goals and make holistic operational improvements. We'll help you maximize your existing software investments and adopt new solutions that boost efficiency, reduce obstacles, and empower your teams to do great work.
Ready to rethink your approach to document management?
Contact our team today to get started.
Ronnie Hay is the Marketing Director for UBEO.