Are you seeking a better approach to keep track of all your documents? To keep things organized, use a centralized data repository, which allows you to store all of your files in a single system. Here are the twenty feature sets that asset managers should look for in a document management system.
Document management systems (DMS) enable your company to store, organize, and distribute documents digitally, eliminating the need for paper. Too much paperwork can significantly impede your productivity and workflow.
Best Document Management Practices
Whether you're considering adopting a digital document management system (DMS) for your business or improving your current system, focusing on best practices can lead to a more effective and profitable solution.
Document generation is a vital aspect of doing business. As a result, it's ideal to have a document management system that gives your company the tools it needs to create, secure, and share critical documents. With a document management system in place, you will find it easier to store and access critical information.
This enhances your business's efficiency, increases employee productivity, and improves your offerings by eliminating the obstacles that come with using paper.
Despite the fact that most people are aware of the benefits of employing corporate document management, many still wonder: what are the best practices for efficient document management?
If you're thinking the same thing, here's a rundown of the finest and most proven corporate document management methods you should try to use in your company's day-to-day operations.
1. Maintain Consistency
The first best practice for document management is to optimize your file organization since DMS depends on how you build your folders. When you organize your folders consistently, everyone who has access to them can readily find the document they require.
Use a lot of tags for each document and be consistent in how you list your tags, such as how you write the date or who owns the document. Consistently organizing your documents will save you a lot of time when looking for certain files.
2. Create a Naming Scheme
The naming of documents is another area where uniformity is essential. When everyone labels documents differently, they become hard to locate. To make it easier to find documents, create a naming standard that everyone who uses the document management system will adhere to.
When a file is named incorrectly, it is easily lost and forgotten, therefore make sure your staff understands which naming standard to follow. Keeping your naming convention constant will make all files easily searchable and enhance your office process.
3. Make Automation a Priority
Manually executing common procedures slows down your workplace workflow needlessly. Automating operations such as indexing and data storage is one of the best practices of a document management system. Automation ensures that the same procedures are taken for each completed process, saving both time and work for your personnel.
You may also use a document management system to automate notifications to your staff, ensuring that everyone stays on track. To achieve maximum productivity, prioritize the automation procedures that work best for your firm.
4. Protect Your Data
Use your document management system to safeguard any sensitive material supplied to staff or clients. Email is not a secure method of transferring sensitive information. You may safeguard certain files in your DMS by enabling password security and limiting access to just authorized users.
Document management systems even allow you to track users so you can see who is viewing your documents and where they are coming from. Ensure document security by implementing the appropriate DMS features.
5. Simple Access
Your data should be easily accessible and safe from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. Your files will be easily accessible from any of your devices if you use an online-based document repository. The solution should be simple to download and upload.
6. Filtering and Searching
It might be difficult to find a certain document in a vast database. Clicking or scrolling through different folders does not make the most of your or your employee's time. Your system should have filtering and search capabilities. With just a few character inputs, you should be able to discover or filter down your document. You shouldn't even have to use the search function. It should be indexed for you already.
You should be able to quickly tag or label your documents in order to organize, search, and categorize them. Organizing your documents using terms like permits, operations, finances, invoicing, and construction will make your life easier in the future.
The option to link your documents to projects, compliance events, work orders, or tasks will help your employees remain on top of your day-to-day responsibilities.
There are several instances in which you need to be able to easily export or import all project-related paperwork. Whether onboarding new projects or de-boarding existing ones, having the option to import or export information with the press of a button would significantly speed up the process.
Check to see whether you can interact with other software systems. For example, you may be content with the capabilities of Dropbox, Box, or SharePoint. When you have hundreds of thousands of files and don't want to abandon your current solution but still want to retain all project-related materials in one location, Integration allows you to mirror your existing repository on another platform.
11. Retention of Data
In the case of an inadvertent deletion or system failure, the system should be able to keep historical data and backups. To minimize data loss due to personnel turnover, you should have a system in place to track all documents throughout the lifespan of your project.
To build a portfolio and project-level rights for distinct users, the system needs to have a portfolio and project-level permissions. Perhaps some of your employees should have administrative permissions, while others should have edit rights, and certain external contracts should have read-only access. The platform should make it simple for you to set these rights.
13. Identify Key Performance Indicators and Set Goals
Many businesses will implement some type of document management but will not consider defining goals or determining how to monitor success. Because document management solutions have several business uses, you must be particular. Do you want to save money on storage? Are you attempting to increase teamwork? Or are you seeking methods to make it easier for people to discover documents? Before implementing a solution, define key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress toward your objectives. For example, your existing system may take 10 minutes to process an invoice, but after a few months of utilizing the new system, it may only take two minutes.
14. Determine the Most Important Business Processes and Systems to Automate
The capacity to automate operations to save time and effort is one of the most significant advantages of digital document management. Concentrate on the most vital business initiatives, such as enhancing customer response times, using accounting systems to obtain payment discounts, or speeding up a critical procedure.
15. Consider Other Automation Possibilities
Once you've identified which business activities should be automated, look for methods to simplify workflows by connecting data collection with databases, apps, and notifications. You can make the information searchable by automating how you capture documents, utilizing processes to accurately recognize the document type and automatically route it to the relevant individual.
16. Improve Paper-Based Processes
Many firms make the error of attempting to digitally recreate paper operations rather than adopting a fresh strategy to eliminate inefficiencies. When establishing digital processes, consider why you followed a certain method in the past and whether those steps are still required in this new environment.
17. Keep the User Interface Simple
A DMS is intended to assist in the resolution of many different issues, but every function does not need to be on every user's screen. A decent system should allow for customization so that just the most useful aspects are displayed to match the needs of each user. Simplifying the interface makes it easier for people to do required activities without being bombarded with extraneous details.
18. Inform Your Customers
When discussing and dealing with clients, having a document management system helps efficiency. And, if you're going to employ this system, your clients must be aware of it.
Then, you should have an explanation that explains to your clients what the document management system is, how it will benefit everyone, and why they should use it.
Some of the benefits of a company document management system must always be mentioned, such as how it saves time by making document retrieval faster and safer. When designing an explanation for your clients, be sure to include it in a variety of forms, emphasize the mutual advantages, and avoid focusing too much on security.
19. Understand Your Industry's Record Retention Requirements
Many firms struggle with the issue of storing documents for longer than required. This is frequently due to a lack of information about the standards governing how long documents must be preserved or the agony of deleting the documents.
Because hard drives are less expensive, it's become increasingly simpler for users to save documents indefinitely using paperless systems. Holding documents that have passed their maturity date, on the other hand, is a liability for your company.
To avoid such scenarios, you should get acquainted with the standards regulating document keeping.
These standards are either legal, state, or federal in nature, and they influence the type of document your company should accept when developing a document management system. It should also specify how long these documents should be kept, which is normally seven years in the banking industry.
However, examine your compliance manual first to become more familiar with the retention rules for certain documents.
20. Sharing Files Securely
One of the most typical queries you may have while looking for document management system best practices is, "Is my data secure?" Did you know that one of the most popular ways we share data with the rest of the world is through email?
The most frequent method of sharing files with others is via email. Mailing or FedExing your documents is another typical (though sluggish and expensive) method of sharing working documents. In most circumstances, companies' ways of exchanging documents with clients or coworkers are insecure, costly, and unreliable.
Best Practice is transferring information containing social security numbers, birthdates, complete names, and other sensitive information by email is no longer safe and is thus typically forbidden by securities companies and enterprises. Mail and FedEx may be costly and unpredictable in terms of delivering on schedule.
Moreover, Document management should be accompanied and supplemented by the following:
- Incident management is used to track occurrences that occur before and after the COD.
- Task management enables you to assign tasks to users and link documents or procedures.
- Work orders are used to track O&M requirements.
- Contract management is the process of connecting the real contract to the agreement's terms, prices, and summary.
- Shadow Billing is used to keep track of incoming invoices from the off-taker, ISO, or utility.
If you are new to document 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 had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.