Management Best Practices: 9 Important Tips
Some of the document management best practices presented below may seem obvious. Fortunately, that means they’re easy to understand and implement. you just need to make sure you stay consistent with them to have a robust and ongoing document management system in place. Let’s go through them.
1. Choose the best document management software for your business
The first step your business should take is to identify the right document management system for you. Although many options are similar, they are not identical, and choosing one that does not meet your needs can be a waste of time and money.
If your business creates a lot of new documents that you need to collaborate on, then something like Microsoft SharePoint or Egnyte are good options, as both offer Office 365 integration. Alternatively, if you just need a space to store and manage contracts, DocuWare is a great option that also allows you to digitally sign your documents.
2. Use clear indexing
To ensure that your documents are easily accessible, it is essential that you index each new document and folder accurately, creating a consistent file structure. Before creating your DMS, we recommend that you create clear folder structures and create a list of categories for each type of document.
Clear indexing makes it much easier to find documents when searching and makes it easier for different departments to manage documents within their section of the company. When using a document management solution such as M-Files, you can also tag documents with tags and other forms of metadata, ensuring that each document has its place in your DMS.
3. Digitize your paper documents
If you are migrating from physical documents to electronic documents, it is recommended that you make digital copies of your paper documents. It can be a daunting task, but scanning documents and transferring them to an electronic digital management system ensures that sensitive documents remain safe and accessible.
Paper documents are much easier to lose, and a physical filing cabinet doesn’t offer the same level of security as the best document management software. So moving everything around not only makes filing more efficient, but also offers much more robust protection for each document.
4. Select Access Rights
Not everyone in your business needs to have access to every document in your document management system. There will be sensitive documents – like employee contracts and performance records – that need to be kept confidential. Fortunately, with today’s document management software, you can grant access permissions to users of your choice.
When setting up your document management system, take the time to identify senior staff and departmental staff who need access to specific documents. They will also be able to control the access of members of their own team and choose which of them can access, modify and share documents.
5. Set up automations
Automations are something every business should add to their document management workflow. They make business life easier and also help you stay consistent in managing your business documents and processes.
Depending on the document management software you use, you can send automated notifications when a document is created or modified. You can also set automated document approval workflows for certain documents, as well as set up automated invoicing if your business works with external clients.
If you’re using an effective document management system, you can expect to have more automation options available, and it’s a good idea to use them.
6. Use cloud storage
Assuming you want to move away from physical documents and filing cabinets, you have two options when it comes to using a document management system: on-premises storage and cloud storage.
On-premises document management software allows you to control your documents from a server within your company. Cloud storage means your documents exist on third-party servers, which some users don’t like.
However, cloud storage gives you an extra layer of protection in case your hardware is damaged or stolen, because you can still access your documents in the cloud. Cloud-based software also makes it easier to collaborate with different users, especially in remote teams, thereby improving overall business efficiency.
If you’re looking for a space to manage documents as well as other types of files, check out our top online cloud storage providers for documents.
7. Have consistent version control
If your company constantly updates documents, effective version control is essential. File versioning means you can access previous versions of documents and restore them if needed.
It also lets you give certain users only the ability to view documents and other users the ability to view, comment on, and edit edited versions. This means you can effectively collaborate on a document and ensure that a document is not changed without the proper permission.
8. Complete Document Audits
Although it is much easier to manage business documents with an electronic document management system, it is still recommended that you perform regular audits of your documents to mitigate potential failures or process violations.
You can do internal and external audits. For the former, it is good to do audits every three to six months, while an external audit can be carried out annually.
Not only does auditing let you know what documents you have in place, but it also means you can understand if your business is compliant with industry regulations. Many business sectors require external auditing, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of everything, rather than panicking when it comes time to put your business under the microscope.
9. Know your local regulations
It’s a good idea to learn what types of documents you need to keep in the document management system for a certain period of time. For example, in the financial sector, regulatory requirements stipulate that certain documents must remain on file for a period of seven years. Before deleting a document, double-check to see if it’s against the law to do so.