What Does a Document Manager Do?
A document manager heads the document management department at a company.
As a document manager, you would lead the document management team, hire and train team members, oversee the development of company-wide document management systems, select tools for digital document management, and ensure company-wide compliance with approved document management processes.
Members of your team would be responsible for document management of specific departments and projects. However, as a document manager, you would be responsible for ensuring compliance with document management processes throughout the company.
Why do Companies need a Document Management Department?
To function properly, every company needs to operate in an organized manner. Companies are structured so that the work is divided between departments that carry out specialized functions like HR, finance, IT, and administration. Organizational goals are divided into departmental goals, which are then divided into individual goals for members of the respective departments. All of this is done to make organizational work manageable.
With hundreds or even thousands of employees, numerous departments, and multiple physical locations spread out over a country or globally, it would be impossible for any company to function in the absence of defined processes and procedures.
Companies also need to comply with the laws and regulations of the territories and countries that they operate in. Regulatory and legal documents have special requirements regarding storage and access.
In the course of their daily work, employees produce thousands of documents. The responsibility of a document management department is to ensure that all documents are accurate and reliable. This is only possible if documents are created, stored, accessed, and distributed according to defined standards and procedures.
Document Manager Responsibilities
The following is a list of responsibilities that you would find on any document manager job description:
- Managing a team of document management professionals.
- Hiring and training team members.
- Creating operating procedures for the department.
- Reviewing and updating departmental operating procedures.
- Developing document management plans, procedures, and processes.
- Reviewing and updating document management plans, procedures and processes.
- Ensuring the security, accessibility, and proper distribution of organizational documents.
- Ensuring that documents are created after a documented and approved review-and-approval process.
- Ensuring the security, accessibility, and distribution of organizational documents.
- Ensuring audit trails are maintained for all types of office documents.
- Ensuring the confidentiality of sensitive information and documents.
- Selecting digital content management and document management tools.
- Working with IT for the smooth operation of digital tools.
- Ensuring the integration of digital tools into daily processes through training.
- Assigning user privileges for digital tools to team members.
- Ensuring procedures for access approval and access control.
- Automation of business workflows
- Implementing document disaster recovery through document archiving.
- Ensuring compliance with the quality management systems (QMS).
- Conducting meetings and presentations related to document management.
- Meeting with management to update and inform on the documentation schedule, standards compliance, and documentation progression.
Document Manager Skills
The skills you will need as a document manager will vary from company to company. The following is a list of common skills that are needed by document managers:
- Management skills.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
- Presentation skills.
- Project management skills.
- Experience with document management procedures, systems, and standards.
- Familiarity with productivity tools such as Microsoft Office.
- Familiarity with Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS).
- Familiarity with the needs of your employer and the market that your employer operates in.
- For highly technical fields such as IT and engineering, you need to have familiarity with the terminology used in the industry.
- Familiarity with the document management standards for the industry that you work in.
- Familiarity with industrial, national, and global standards for quality and control.
- Familiarity with national and industrial regulations and legal requirements.
Document Manager Education Requirements
The qualifications needed for document manager roles vary from company to company.
Smaller companies with a few employees may require a high school diploma and familiarity with computer systems.
Companies working on a global scale may require an associate's or Bachelor’s degree.
Companies in highly specialized fields may require you to have degrees in a subject that is relevant to the industry in which they operate.
The requirement of degrees for document manager roles at companies that operate in highly technical or specialized fields is quite justified. However, for other types of companies, the requirement for degrees is more related to the perception that a degree equals competence. The fact is that most of what is learned during a degree is never applied in real life. A credible certification will equip you with all that you need to know about the document management profession. It will also cost significantly less and take much less time to complete.
In addition to education, document managers need to have relevant experience in managing teams and systems. Prior experience as a technical writer, senior technical writer, or document control specialist is also valuable as it provides document managers with insight into the required skills and capabilities of team members they have to manage.
As a document manager, you should be competent in the use of electronic systems for document management. It is also advantageous to have familiarity with more than one tool and to have proficiency in the tools that are relevant to your industry.
Document Manager Salary
The salary for document managers depends on several factors such as
The average hourly rate for a document manager is approximately $40. The annual salary for document managers ranges from $49,000 to $137,000, with an average salary of $75,200.
Document Manager Jobs
As more and more companies implement electronic document management systems, the demand for professionals who can implement and manage those systems is only going to increase.
Apart from the technical knowledge related to document management, a document manager has to have significant leadership and management skills. Professionals with good leadership and management skills are always valued in the marketplace. Based on your prior experience in document management and with some relevant certifications, you can easily transition to other fields like project management, cost control, or corporate training.
The role of document managers in companies is a highly critical one. As leaders of the document management department, they set up and ensure compliance with company-wide systems for document management.
Document managers of the past dealt primarily with paper-based documentation. Today most companies use electronic files - such as pdf files - and electronic systems for document creation, management, and storage. The role of electronic systems in document management is only going to increase in the future. The importance of digital skills for document managers is also only going to increase in the future.
How can you become a document manager?
There is more than one path that you can take towards becoming a document manager.
- Gain experience as a technical writer or document controller, move on to a senior role such as a senior technical writer or document administrator, acquire additional knowledge through certifications and training, and when you have accumulated sufficient knowledge and experience you can take on the role of a document manager.
- Acquire degrees in highly specialized fields such as computer science and engineering, get certified and trained to gain insight into the industry that you want to work in and in the profession of document management, and then take on the role of a document manager.
- Get trained on highly specialized electronic document management systems, get certified and trained on document management, and then take on the role of a document manager.
Does a document manager need a Bachelor's degree?
A Bachelor's degree is preferred but not required for a document manager role.
Let's take the example of the hazardous chemicals industry. Hazardous chemicals are those that pose a risk to health, safety, property, or the environment during transportation. Certain chemicals pose risks even when not being transported.
Occupational health and safety are a big concern for this industry. To ensure the safety of personnel, the necessary safety-sensitive information needs to be distributed appropriately. Furthermore, outdated or otherwise incorrect information about safety-sensitive subjects needs to be removed and replaced.
Organizations dealing in hazardous chemicals require maintenance of safety-related documentation—such as injury records, safety certifications, and chemical information—as part of the safety practices necessary to remain compliant with relevant occupational safety standards
People working in document management in such a specialized industry need to
- Understand the industry-specific terminology
- Understand the requirements of relevant safety standards
- Understand the reasons behind the threat to human life that are posed by dangerous chemicals, so that they can work to minimize the risks.
Many skills related to document management can be learned on the job. However for industries such as the one that deals in hazardous chemicals, prior knowledge, and theoretical background go a long way towards ensuring that the personnel working on documents and systems are well equipped for the job. This is where a degree in a relevant discipline proves highly useful.
Does a document manager need experience with Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS)?
Experience with Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) is essential for document managers. In this day and age, almost all companies use computerized systems for online documentation. As many companies are working to become paperless, expertise in electronic document management systems is going to become even more important.
What is the difference between Document Management and Document Control?
Document management is concerned with the storage, locating, updating, and sharing of documents. Electronic document management systems convert paper documentation to electronic format, which makes storing, locating, updating, tracking, and sharing of documents easier and more efficient.
Document control refers to the control of documents with respect to review and approval, security, and version control. Document control uses standardized procedures and workflows to ensure that documents are properly reviewed and approved before distribution, proper security protocols are followed to prevent unauthorized access and distribution, and version control is implemented to ensure that the latest document version is used, and older versions are available if needed.
Document control creates auditable records of document creation, modification, and exchange, and ensures that inaccurate or obsolete documents are removed.
Most software-based document management systems provide features related to document management and document control.
If you are new to document control management and are looking to learn more, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of managing technical documentation.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He is considered one of the top product influencers in the world by Product School and one of the top technical writers. He has been writing software tutorials, manuals, handbooks, and white papers for over eight years. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.