Depending on the size of your organization, the volume of documents passing through the workplace could pile up substantially. The crux of document management is to know which files to keep and which to discard. The essentials of document management – read on.

Meridian reports that document filing costs about $20. But finding a misfiled document costs about $120, and reproduction of a lost document costs a whopping $220.

Surely, you don’t want these additional expenditures to eat up a chunk of your budget.

With a proper document management system in place, you can mitigate the risk of document loss and retrieve the required documents quite simply and quickly. In this guide, we discuss the essentials for document management that will benefit your organization.

1. Set Goals

Like anything else in business, you need to set goals for document management too. Most companies overlook the need for goal-setting. In the end, they don’t have anything to compare their progress with.

You should set Key Performance Indicators and determine how the document management system is helping you meet them. The KPIs will also let you figure out how the new system is better than the existing one.

For instance, if you now take 10 minutes to find a document in your paper-based system, you can set a goal for reducing this time. A new, automated document management system might help you find the same file in less than two minutes.

When you share this information with the workforce, they’re inclined towards using the document management system more often.

2. Have A Common Saving Spot

One of the most overlooked essentials for document management is the need to have one spot where the whole team saves a document. The entire workforce should be a single unit that is working in sync.

No one in the team should be able to edit a document as they will. If you allow this, you’ll end up with dozens of versions of the same document. How will you find the right, unedited version when it’s time to use that document?

Some workplaces try to manage this by making different folders or having multiple file names. Again, this is a recipe for disaster, considering having ten files of almost similar names is bound to confuse you when you’re trying to find the raw version of that file later.

3. Convenient Searchability

On average, an individual working in an office spends 1.5 hours every day looking for things. A manager spends 150 hours annually, locating lost information. That’s a lot of time that you’re wasting doing something that a document management system could do in minutes.

For that, a document management system should have easy searchability. You should be able to sort and organize the documents by date, relevance, and other features.

Owing to this, it becomes easier to search for them when you use them.

Did you know that executives waste about six weeks of the year searching for important documents? Think of all the things your organization can accomplish in those six weeks.

That says a lot about the importance of a document management system with easy searchability.

SharePoint is ideal for Document Management – check out SharePoint Search Capabilities

4. Document Capture Should Be Close to Source

If you capture documents close to their points of origin, it becomes easier to save them and your time. For instance, a virtual printer allows you to save documents without scanning or printing them. You can save your important data directly to the document management system.

Likewise, electronic forms eliminate the need for manual data entry and also accelerate information flow. Since this data is online, everyone can access it on their devices.

Capturing data close to the source also ensures its retention in the rawest form. If a document has traveled through different departments in the organization, it has likely been edited a few times.

5. Document Taxonomy

It’s essential to have an organization-wide naming convention for the documents. It would allow every department to not only access the files but also retrieve them easily whenever required.

Anyone filing a document should do it properly according to the conventional set in the workplace. Everyone else should be aware of the naming technique, classification, and whereabouts of the file so that they can find it quickly.

For instance, all Human Resources-related documents should have HR in their filename.

More importantly, the user interface should be friendly enough to allow this. While a document management system can solve many problems, all features should not be cluttering the users’ desktop.

Instead, the system should be intuitive enough to only show the elements required to accomplish a task.

6. Cross-Platform Integrations

The document management system in your workplace should be able to integrate with every platform, from your age-old printer or Excel filing system to the latest mobile phone apps.

Moreover, it should give your company room for expansion. The last thing you need is to be unable to initiate a new process because your existing document management system does not integrate with it.

Even better, your employees should have web access to the document management system so that they can access the data even when they are not on the premises.

7. Permission Levels

Not every file should be accessible to every employee in the workplace. Your document management system should have permission levels to ensure that people who do not need to see a particular document cannot access it.

For instance, in a medical setting, you need to keep the patient records and history confidential. So, the documents should only be accessible to people who need this information.

Likewise, in any other business setting, you need to have permission levels for your compliance, audit, and financial data.

Conclusion

Did you know how many pages a four-drawer cabinet can hold? 18000 pages. Imagine looking through the stacks of paper for a single document that you need for the next client meeting.

While it’s not impossible to find a document, it’s certainly time-consuming – the same time you can spend on other productive tasks. Therefore, there’s a dire need for an efficient document management system in the workplace. We’ve discussed the essentials for document management in this guide that will prevent you from wasting your time retrieving documents.