Forms and company documents in the company I have recently joined are in disarray and lacking process. Are there any good practices I can start with for Document Management?
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7 Document Management Best Practices.
1.Establish clear ownership of the document management program.
While a team or formal committee may be involved, your document management efforts won’t go far without assigning an accountable individual to lead the charge. Ideally, this person needs to have authority and influence over practices, personnel, and funding—such as a senior manager. This is because the assigned person must have the power to ensure compliance with internal policies, and external legal requirements and regulations.
Assigning one person of ultimate authority is also important for the bottom-up perspective. “If workforce members don’t know who to turn to for questions and concerns regarding document management, they won’t ask anyone. Instead, they’ll create ad-hoc workarounds in established document management processes, resulting in inconsistent and potentially undesirable outcomes,” warns Andrew de Bray, managing director of [removed]
2. Give proper time and attention to your document retention policy.
One of my most-shared document management principles is setting a time frame for how long documents should be kept before they're destroyed or discarded. Just make sure you're following all relevant [removed] . This allows for a more efficient document organization and can assist in tracking.
How long documents should be retained is typically determined by regulatory requirements. For example, you may be required to retain company financial reports for X number of years.
However, other business drivers also come into play, such as legal and operational concerns. For example, if there is a disagreement about a contract between you and a client or vendor, you’ll need to retain all documents related to that contract to support your legal defense. Considering your operations, guidance documents such as procedure manuals and engineering drawings may be retained for later reference and comparison even after they have been superseded.
To determine what documents should be retained, first, you must properly evaluate and classify them. Document classification is something that must be performed by interdisciplinary teams. Otherwise, you won’t get enough perspective or context, resulting in ambiguous document types and future user confusion. Here’s an example: The [removed] creates many different types of proposals, inspiring them to request several sub-classifications for these documents. However, if the document management team handles classification without [removed] input, aspects like this will be missed.
3. Get user input on document-related processes.
Senior leaders know what results they want from processes, but they aren’t always clear on how those processes should be developed. The ins and outs of everyday workflows require hands-on knowledge, experience, and lessons learned from the people who participate in them.
User input is important in developing effective processes that generate consistent results: It's important to make a document management project a collaborative effort. Have your end-users map out their document-based processes. CTOs, CFOs, and IT managers all bring important insight to the table, but process owners make the biggest difference. They may have specialized approaches for managing their documents in their day-to-day workflows, and these approaches may not be documented formally. They're the ones who will be able to best explain how things are done, and what features are needed and automated workflows should look like in a document management system.
4. Determine which parts of your organization will use the system.
Before building a document management system (DMS), or purchasing one, recognize that not all departments or functions will use it. Kubicki notes some considerations in making the determination. There are actually quite a few areas where automated document processing can make a difference—from accounting to customer service to HR. Companies need to take the time to think through where they want to implement the solution and how implementing it will impact that function, then use that knowledge to guide their transition.
5. Ensure your document management system is secure.
Even if a document management system eases your operational burden and helps with retention compliance, if it isn’t secure, you’ll face other problems. The system needs to be able to [removed] , among other security features.
Have your IT team get specific with data security requirements. In today's world, corporate data security is more important than ever. Companies need to be able to specify who can access what information and from which devices.
The sensitivity of data is also a consideration. The system may need more robust capabilities. When sensitive data is involved, there needs to be a way to redact it on an as-needed basis. There are also numerous security considerations—like SSL technologies, directory authentications, and TLS protocols—to make sure that documents are only viewed by authorized individuals. An added consideration: Companies that have lifecycle management regulations may want a solution that can automatically delete documents from their database once they are no longer needed. This way, they don't have to worry about maintaining a document destruction schedule or facing fines if they don't meet industry requirements.