6 Best Document Management Practices

Document Management has become one of the most important components in any company even since the beginning of the ‘80s, when corporate managers first started converting paper documents to electronic files, because it allowed them to reduce workload by having a significantly smaller number of papers to deal with.

The earliest versions of Document Management Systems only allowed a limited number of indexed and stored file formats, but they still saved hundreds of work hours, wasted until then by employees just with searching and distributing paper documents. Since then, technology has progressed considerably enabling the support of various file formats and different types of documents. This has lead to Document Management Systems to become an indispensable tool for large and medium sized companies and organizations.

According to various studies, paper documents often get lost, over 7 percent of them, and almost 90 percent are shuffled making it difficult to find an important piece of information in a decent amount of time. Interesting enough, most employees spend more than half of their time looking for documents, but it only takes them 5 to 15 percent of their time reading the information.

The size of the company doesn’t really matter when considering using a document management solution, but more complex systems are used by larger companies because they require an initial financial investment. This investment is profitable over time, but very small companies don’t have the necessary funds. Document management systems provide not only workflow automation, but also security, auditing and analyzing tools, very useful to rethink and implement company strategies.

Ever since implementing such systems, managers usually agree that the rules for an efficient document management strategy remain the same. The following are the most important points to remember when implementing a document management solution:

  1. Capturing a variety of file types. A good document management system is able to recognize and store all kinds of documents, scanned images and at least basic file formats such as PDF and CAD files. The provider of your choice should be able to keep up with the latest progress in technology. When new Microsoft Office versions started saving .doc files as .dox files, many companies realized their software wasn’t capable of recognizing the new file extension, which was a real nuisance.
  2. Legal requirements. Depending on the industry or each country’s laws, some documents are not recognized as legal, even if a digital signature is used. Therefore, some documents must be stored in hard copy format too, but can still be imported into the system for internal use.
  3. Convenient indexing and storage. The system should be able to track down a document by simply using keywords or phrases and provide the title and a short description of each document. That way, all documents related to a certain project, for example, are listed and it’s easy to choose which one is needed at the moment.
  4. Security. All sensitive or confidential data should be stored with maximum security. It’s very easy to protect important information by setting up different access parameters for user categories. For instance, some information may be edited and downloaded only by someone from a high management level and other documents are completely restricted, if necessary. This prevents data theft or data leaking to competitors.
  5. Storage. Good storage practices are the basics of any Document Management System. Some documents cane be stored, but remain inactive, others are archived and unnecessary documents are simply deleted. If all files are organized properly, it’s easy to make periodic revisions and keep only what’s really necessary in the system.
  6. Training. Most managers fear that, when implementing a Document Management System, employees will have a hard time figuring out how to work with it, which can lead to confusion and chaos. A user-friendly software system, which requires minimum training, is necessary, especially for large companies, who have to train hundreds or thousands of employees on how to use it.

 VENDOM is a Document Control System able to store, index and track various types of file formats and documents, providing control over the entire life cycle of a document.

Photo: Pixabay.com, user: geralt