Did you know that inefficient processes in your firm cost you 20% to 30% of your revenue?
In today’s extremely competitive business environment, any kind of inefficiency is like a lead weight underwater. It will sink your company unless you become intentional about your operational efficiency. How you handle paperwork is part of creating that efficiency. To do so, you need to rely on proven document management best practices.
Here is a look at seven guidelines that can help you bake efficiency into how you document handling strategy.
What Is Document Management?
Digital document management is the system you deploy to receive, track and store documents. A useful document management system will aim to cut down on the amount of paper you use while making the information accessible to team members on demand.
Document management systems come in different designs to help you meet varying needs.
Stand-alone systems solely seek to empower users to manage documents and files effectively. Other document management systems come as part of a broader set of business-related tools such as calendars, wikis, and messaging, among others.
These comprehensive suites of tools work well for companies looking for a one-stop solution. Moreover, these all-in-one tool sets come with extensive support services to help businesses resolve issues promptly (find out more).
Essential Features of a Powerful Document Management System
Every organization works to meet its unique needs. As such, there is no single document management system to rule them all. However, there are several standout features that all effective systems have to serve the organization better.
Cloud access: A robust document management system needs to integrate web-access. Such capability will help you access your information wherever you are, on whatever device you’re on.
Attractive user interface: You need to pick a system with a user-oriented interface to help ease operations. If the document management system is challenging to navigate, you may find yourself not fully embracing and utilizing it.
Intelligent organization: Can a document management system with poor organization capabilities help you stay organized? Of course not. Go for a tool that takes the work out of creating a system to track your information effectively.
Robust search: A lot of what you’ll be doing with the system is searching for information. It’s, therefore, a no brainer that the document system you choose should come with a robust search feature. Otherwise, your system will become harder to use the more you add new information to it.
Version control: Since several people will be accessing the information, you want a document system that can handle different versions of the same file. An exceptional system saves each version of an uploaded document and can allow you to view each version and keep any necessary changes.
Document Management Best Practices
It’s not enough to have the best system out there. You also need to learn the best practices that can help you get the most out of your high-quality document management system. Here are some guidelines you can rely on:
1. Establish Objectives and Key Metrics
Laying out your objectives and how to track the implementation can help you get more out of your system. Since there are various business applications for such systems, you need to be specific.
After prioritizing the best use case for your firm, you should decide on the metrics to follow. That helps you show the effectiveness of the system so that you can get broad buy-in and make it more effective.
2. Make Automation a Priority
A valuable document management system is one that empowers you to access your information using as few steps as possible. Thus, to make your processes smoother, you need to identify and prioritize areas to automate within the system.
What you choose to automate to simplify things ought to be in line with your document management goals. That way, you reduce the time and effort your users need to expand.
3. Focus on Metadata
When you rely on folders in your document management system, you need to remember their location. As you add more information to your system, the harder that is going to be.
Metadata helps you store information based on its nature and not the location. Effective metadata works in tandem with search to help you call up the documents you need without having to memorize each folder’s location.
4. Establish a Firm Retention Policy
Businesses hold on to documents that are no longer useful, and that can slow down document access.
A system administrator can create a dedicated digital file cabinet for documents to be retained. Such a folder should come with strict guidelines on when one can modify or delete a file.
Additionally, the administrator can also set system document options for when (and which) users can purge, archive, or copy them.
5. Supervise Access and Permissions
Your document management system effectively holds the firm’s secrets, and as such, you can’t be lax with access. A reliable document management system gives you the capability to set the access level for each user.
Take advantage of the role-based security feature to designate pre-access right to a defined set of users. That way, each user only gets to access what is relevant to them without compromising company security.
6. Capture Information Near Is Origin
The integrations you need include those outside the system as much as within it. You need to design your workflow to capture data from as close to the point of origin as possible to increase efficiency.
As you capture more information at the source and input it directly, you reduce the number of steps involved in your workflow.
7. Improve on Paper-Based Workflows
Trying to replicate the workflow you use in paper-based systems doesn’t build efficiently. You need to audit all the processes you use to identify areas you can improve on.
Ask why each procedure was put in place and whether it’s useful to the workflow in the new environment. If you do that effectively, you will overhaul your overall workflow to bring out the best in your document management system.
Streamline Your Document Handling
Inefficient systems can take a big bite out of your revenue. Unless you have money to burn, you need to become intentional about streamlining your operations. Document handling is part of making your workflow more agile. Identify proven document management best practices that align with your objectives to get the best results.
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