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Best practices for creating a document management system

Best practices for creating a document management system

Rachel King

Under the current COVID-19 lockdown and with many people now working from home, the need for effective document management is greater than ever before.

Even just considering digital documents (rather than digital and paper documents) raises several challenges you might be facing in your company.

For example, there are clear inefficiencies found in working with email attachments, such as ensuring that all parties have access to the most up to date version of a document and managing maximum email attachment restrictions. 

This post suggests some best practices for creating a document management system, which may help if you are now urgently seeking a new way of working.

When building a document management system however, It’s not simply a question of choosing a range of applications and hoping they work together. As application engagement analytics, Productiv, found in a 2019 survey, one of the biggest barriers to effective productivity arises when different departments within an organization use separate tools, such as Slack, Google Docs, and Dropbox Paper, without the right degree of cross-departmental collaboration.      

Managing your documents using Zetadocs puts an end to the frustrating problems caused by not being able to pull up the relevant email, file, invoice, or report, exactly when you need it. Your employees won’t waste hours every working week, and your customers won’t be kept waiting.

No matter what kind of document management system you employ, there are several good practices which should always be applied.

Base Your Document Management Requirements on Business Goals

When you examine a range of different document management systems it may be tempting to assume that they all do pretty much the same thing.

Each system is slightly different, however, with workflows and interfaces that make it more or less suited to particular types and sizes of business. The worst-case scenario would be opting for a one-size-fits-all document management system that isn’t flexible enough to use without having to reorganize the core functions of your business.

Prepare The Documents You Intend to Store

No system is going to be fully effective if the documents fed into it aren’t organized properly beforehand.

Zetadocs enables documents to be found using metadata, but issues such as naming, organizing, and tagging digital versions of documents still play a huge role in ensuring maximum efficiency.

It should also be remembered that most people who create documents aren’t particularly good at remembering what the exact title of those documents is. For that reason, an effective document management system is one that also indexes documents based on description, content, and keywords.

Most employees needing to retrieve a document will remember what it dealt with and, perhaps, when it was created. A metadata-based search tool will track documents down based on fields such as tags, dates, times, keywords, and signatures.  

Maintain Confidentiality

While the key driver of any document management system is to optimize workflows, this should never come at the cost of compromising the privacy of any sensitive documents.

The best systems have a secure file repository, controlling access to the most sensitive documents via secure sharing, passwords, and authentication.

At the same time, they create an ongoing record of who has opened and modified the sensitive files in question, guaranteeing accountability, and a record of activity.   

Improve Workflows

Without an effective document management system, employees find it difficult to find the files and documents they need, something which diminishes morale as much as it wastes time.

On the other hand, a suitable document management system – with documents organized logically and retrievable via a range of metrics – makes it easy for employees to find and share documents, subject to permissions that are already set in place.

When a new version of the document is created it becomes available to everyone working on a specific project, creating a timeline and information hub that enables quick and easy collaboration.

Archiving and cleaning your document folders

One of the biggest issues facing many document-heavy workplaces is the task of deciding when to archive or destroy documents.

The answer varies across industry sectors and types of business, considering specific legal requirements and regulatory compliance.

Setting up a system through which documents can be tagged as active, completed, or ready for disposal will ensure that the document management system avoids the pitfalls of document congestion and holding information that is outdated or illegal to hold.   

What to do next?

The documents your employees produce are often the lifeblood of a business. When teams don't have the benefit of working in a shared workplace, applying automation such as file indexing is vital to maintaining a cohesive store of your documents and minimizing disruption. Document management capabilities offered by Zetadocs adhere to the kind of best practice outlined above. If your business would benefit from a system that simplifies and modernizes storage, retrieval, and collaboration, then please contact us today.  

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