Some tips to help you in document management
Every day in your lives as individuals, companies, organizations, or businesses, yougenerate or create, capture, and storedocuments. Thesedocuments can be in the form of emails, business reports and letters,transaction and financial statements, wills and deeds, oral history, product specifications, among others.
All these documents surround you in your workplaces and homes. Sometimes, they are too many to the extent you lack storage places, especially in paper forms.You may also often get worried about whether and how to archive old documents you have in storage. The format to use in saving them, the length and time to keep the documents, and the amount of space you have to keep them.
When determining your documents' storage, you have to decide how to organize themchronologically or subject-based.Lastly, a decision must be made to turn the documents created before computers into a format that can be stored electronically. All these can be in our past only when we manage documentseffectively.
What is document management?
Document management is the creation, storage, organization, transmission, and manipulation of data. Also involves the retrieval, updating, and the disposition of information/document to fulfillcompany/organizational purpose.
In other words, document management is how individuals, organizations, or businesses capture, store, retrieves, and track their electronic information or data.
Document management is also known as ‘Document Management Systems’ (DMS), which uses a computer system and software to store, manage, and track electronic documents. Also, to track or manage electronic signatures, images or photographs and printed texts –based data captured by a scanner.
Most of these systems are capable of keeping various versions of records created or modified by different users.
What are the steps involved in the document management process?
To manage documents effectively, you will have to consider the following steps.
Creating a Document Management Plan
For an effective document management process, a plan must address the following questions.
a) What are the rules followed in creating documents?
To manage documents effectively, you need to establish rules for creating your documents.
It would be best to consider whether there are in-house templates to use in standard documents like letters and invoices. And identify your locations.
You must also check on the in-house style that needs to be followed, whether to date new documents or time-stamped.
Lastly, you should highlight the procedures to follow in sharing and reviewing the documents.
b) How will the documents be stored?
Your storage should be a significant concernto manage documents effectively, especially when you have a larger business or organization. Too much time could be wasted looking for specific documents.
You should be able to identify how your documents will be indexed and filed away.
It would be best if you also considered ways in which you have to archive your documents.How will you handle files that are out of date or those documents that are to be moved to the back burner of your document management system?
Additionally, you should ensure yougo through your work-related files. Each year or in a period suitable for the management, weed out the no longer current files. Then create new files labeled by years and subject and move the file as needed.
c) How can document retrieval be simplified?
Document retrieval is about getting the right document at the right time for you. This entails browsing through the documents in the search for specific documents. Here you should be able to identify more straightforward ways in which your records will be found.
You should have in mind the retrieval process when arranging documents. For instance, you can decide to have the files sorted by event, topic, and speaking engagement, among other ways.
In the case of paper documents, you can do labeling using manila papers; this way, you will know where to return it when a record is taken out.
Besides, you should ensure you stick to the same labeling system. Consistency of document naming will be a plus. If you use colors for specific folders, you should never change it; this will avoid confusion.
You must follow acceptable file management practices for easy identification or retrieval of documents. That compactness, simplicity, and accessibility should be considered, among other characteristics.
Another more straightforward way for easier document retrieval would be to create a location list. When working with a group of individuals or sole proprietors, the list could be hanged at a strategic place.
The list will remind you where to find particular types of files. The plan works well for both documents, whether the records are kept in a computer, in-house server, in the cloud, or filed in a physical location.
d) How will the document be kept safe?
When your goal is to manage documents effectively, data security should always be a priority for online digital and print/paper forms. You must keep records out of unauthorized persons.
The security of documents should first start with the physical safety of your location. How safe is your environment of the premise? How often do you experiencing breakings? Therefore,all your businesses, be it home-based ones, needs security installed.
For electronic documents, you can create passwords and encryption. Make digital copies for any disaster recovery, and you can also use e-signatures, among other ways.
Better still, you can consider the following additional security measures;
In creating the document management plan, you also need to consider the following additional factors.
The retention ability-consider how long the documents are kept on files before they are deleted or moved. You can purge out documents or files taking up space but are of less or no importance.
Archiving- consider finding a storage place for documents removed from the active repositories, which may be of some importance. Those documents are not a liability risk.
Distribution and workflow- you need to ensure that are ways in which the documents can be made available for people that need them. And in case the documents have to pass through different parties, consider having rules for the workflow.Who is allowed to change what and under what circumstances?
Implementing the document management plan
Once the document management plan has been created, you are set to implement it. In the implementation, you can;
Determine who takes charge.
It is good to make the entire team aware of the details of your business's/company's management system. To ensure that everyone follows the appropriate procedures in creating, sorting, or retrieving documents, you need to have someone in charge to see the plan through to the end.
Following the execution plan.
You need to confirm that each person who accesses or uses the documents consistently follows the naming, storing, and retrieving guidelines. Ensure you guide against any misfiling and, more often, spot check or regular basis and in the process, test to know whether particular files can quickly be found.
Which are the examples of document management systems?
To help manage documents effectively, several systems or software have been put in place to reduce paper-based documentation and your organization's document-based performance.
Before listing the examples, let's get to know the components of document management systems.
Any software must:
Be easy to use- the software should be user friendly. Software is efficient if it's easier to use in importing, capturing, organizing, and finding documents.
Accommodate all types of files- in enhancing your operations, software needs to accommodate different types of documents, like Paper, electronic, audio and video, fax, and many more.Also, they should be able to maintain all system files and utilize storage.
Retrieve documents by assigning indexes- a useful software should quickly search through the numerous documents and identify or pinpoint the information needed.
Be able to export and annotate- the software should permit users to remove or append specific files from the system without permanently altering the original document.
Protected- security is a vital necessity for any document management software. They shouldoffer a rigorous security system, either password-protected to keep off the unauthorized users. However, any authorized person should perform his/her essential duties, be it from a desktop, laptop, or over the web but without compromising the system's integrity.
Besides, the software should give the administrator control over who can view or make changes to the document, among other components.
Now, to the examples.
The most common documentmanagement systems/software include;
What are the benefits of document management?
There are many reasons why you need to deploy document management systems in your business. Included are;
a) Easy retrieval
Searching and retrieving documents can be very time-consuming, especially when there are many documents you have to go through. It may also cost you labor to find a misfiled record, and you'll incur some charges for reproducing certain lost documents. Filing, faxing, copying, and manual searching will result in a loss of time.
Well, time is money, which means you shall have wasted a lot. However, you will reduce the laborand time taken for a search with a sound document management system. When you install a document management system that can retrieve files by a wordor a typed phrase, it will make yourremote retrieval of documents.
The systems allow you to applyindex categories to documents or folders; this will help save you time than searching for a folder.
b) For reduced storage space
Paper-based documents need a lot of space. However, electronic document management systems will cut your cost on space and time. Any documents that need to be kept in hard copies can be stored in offsite warehouses or vault.
c) Enhanced Security
Maintaining document safety is necessary. Document management systems ensure only authorized persons have access to certain documents. It offers youbetter control over your sensitive documents; for example, you can password-protect your documents.
Also, effective DMS will enable you to identify who viewed, accessed, or modified a particular document and the modification time. Some managed documents are highly traceable, and some are tagged for automated alerts.
d) Ensures better back up and disaster recovery
Document management software ensures all documents are centrally stored. It also offers you the chance to index and archive your documents. You can make and keep copies in different protected computers to help in disasters such as fire and flood. Therefore, any document management system you install should include effective data management and recovery plan.
e) Better collaboration
A practical document management system ensures easier document collaboration and sharing, as documents captured from different locations can electronically be shared with multiple individuals. Itenhances anytime anywhere spirit.
Lastly, DMS ensures an improved workflow. Of course, most business processes involve the movement of documents through different departments. A well-organized DMS will significantly speed up your operations and enhance your document quality.
The rapid advancements in technology have led to subsequent growth in business data and content. Each day you have a task to manage massive amounts of business/company files and documents. From business proposals, contracts to marketing materials, trainingmanuals, and financial statements. These documents may be scattered all over your offices or homes.
Therefore, to manage documents effectively, you’ll have to deploy document management systems. This is the use of computers or software to help you capture, store, retrieve, and track electronic documents. The document management systems will save you timeand space for storing your documents. Also, enhance your documents' security, reduces your pare reliance, ensures better collaboration, and facilitates easier retrieval of documents, among other benefits.