Document management best practices are essential for any company looking to streamline their document workflow and improve the efficiency of their employees. Get tips on how to manage, organize, and preserve your documents today.
The most common document management best practices are to set up a document management strategy, manage documents in a single location, keep only the documents you need, use a filing cabinet, and consistently naming of documents.
Document management can be a nightmare. You have to deal with everything from paper piles to file cabinet drawers that hardly ever stay organized to endless tasks of placement and organization.
Effective document management is a process that helps you to be more productive and organized. It can help you to avoid the clutter that can be created when you have a large number of documents and folders.
How much time do you spend on document management? Everyday? You’re not alone.
Stop reinventing the wheel and start implementing some of the most important document management best practices. In this article, you’ll learn how to implement essential guidelines that will make your day-to-day job easier than ever before.
I strongly recommend reading this guide for details about document management statistics.
List of Document Management Best Practices
Document management best practices will help you stay organized in a large corporation and streamline your workday. These document management best practices will help you keep your desk neat and your work area efficient. Whether you’re a manager or an employee, these guidelines will make your life easier and will allow you to focus on more important tasks.
The document management best practices are:
#1. Setup a clear strategy
As the use of documents has grown, so have the opportunities for document management. When you create a document or file, it is not just sent to one person anymore; it may go across multiple people and departments. This means that it is useful to understand how documents are created, who creates them, and when they are created.
An effective document management strategy specifies how business documents should be created or received, organized, maintained, approved or rejected, stored, distributed, and destroyed in both electronic and paper formats. It should precisely describe these activities and be widely used in all departments.
#2. Manage documents in a centralized repository
Organizations can enhance efficiency and accessibility by storing all digital documents in one centralized repository and location. This consolidation enables every team member to quickly locate and retrieve the information.
This has a significant impact on reducing the like hood of having multiple document silos where documents will be scattered between different locations which will negatively impact the ability to easily locate documents as employees will need to search in multiple locations to find their needed documents.
Also with a centralized repository, teams can collaborate seamlessly, as everyone works with the most up-to-date versions of documents, reducing the risk of conflicting or outdated information.
#3. Keep a record of documents
Keeping track of your documents is a practice in effectively managing your documents for good reasons. First and foremost, maintaining a record of your documents gives you a well-organized history of your organization’s activities, decisions and transactions. This historical information is extremely valuable for compliance, audits and legal purposes as it ensures that you can easily meet requirements and address inquiries.
It also helps with audit trail and tracking changes overtime to ensure transparency and accountability at any given time. This is extremely important because it prevents confusion and human mistakes by having a way to track all operations happen on a document.
#4. Keep only the documents you need
Not all documents are created equally. There are documents that need to exist for specific time or period depending on industry rules and regulations and others should be only kept for a temporary period.
As experts in the field of documentation, we need first to identify the types of documents and clearly state the retention period for each type. That will help us destroy any document that is not needed for the business anymore.
#5. Use a logical document folder structure
Utilizing a logical folder structure within organizations, especially in the absence of a dedicated file management system, is crucial for effective document management and organization. A well-organized folder structure offers a systematic way to categorize, store, and access documents, making it easier for employees to locate the information they need easily.
This will help provide a consistent, organized, and uniformed way for all employees throughout all departments to store and name the documents which will reduce the risk of document duplication. In addition, it helps promote collaboration between team members as they will be better positioned in the future to navigate this repository.
Another important factor for creating a logical document folder structure is the ability to enhance document access with a more robust user access control and permissions.
#6- Consistent naming of documents
It is surprisingly easy for documents to get mislabeled when they are just stored in a folder on your computer or on a shared drive. This can lead to all kinds of issues, from an unreadable file that’s been renamed ‘honey’ to missing content that has been renamed ‘document1’. When you use the proper name for your files and folders, it’s easier to find what you need.
Part of the strategy is to agree on an effective and consistent document naming conventions in order to simply manage and find these documents in the future and to prevent documents from being overwritten.
This naming convention provides several benefits:
- Files are sorted chronologically by default when sorted by name.
- Files related to the same project are grouped together, making it easy to find them.
- You can quickly identify the type of document and its version.
- If multiple people are involved, you can see who created or last modified the file.
- It’s human-readable and provides context about the file’s content.
#7- Define access control
Document access control is the process of verifying who has the right to see, modify, or delete a document in an organization. It is very important to clearly define a visual representation of which group can see which document types.
I usually propose creating a sheet with document types as columns and groups as rows and filling this sheet in order to constantly maintain control over the security of your documents.
As documents grow in volume, it becomes very easy to compromise security, putting critical information in danger of falling into the wrong hands.
#8- Take advantage of the cloud
One of the best documentation management best practices is to migrate your data to the cloud which should bring tons of benefits. Check the below article for more info.
A cloud is a powerful tool for managing documents. It is an online repository that can be accessed from any device, making it much easier to collaborate on projects.
Cloud storage enables users to share and collaborate on documents without having to worry about storing files in individual locations or sharing passwords.
With cloud storage, there is no need to back up files or to worry about data loss. This simplifies the process of sharing and collaborating on documents using extended tools.
#9- Master DOCUMENT VERSION CONTROL
As the complexity of document filing and organization grows, so does the need for document versioning. Automatic document tracking is handy to enable collaboration, decision-making, and enterprise-wide changes.
For example, a company may have guidelines for how to apply for visas that are regularly updated. In this case, it would be useful to use automatic document tracking to create an audit trail of who is responsible for them and when they were updated.
In addition to tracking changes in documents, automated document tracking can also track the movement of documents within a company.
#10- Invest in a document management system (DMS)
Among the top documentation management best practices are adopting a DMS or file management software that will help your organization to manage and control all types of documents.
It is a collection of software that manages, tracks, and provides access to documents in a company or organization. They allow employees to collaborate with colleagues, share information and provide an overview of all the documents related to a certain project. This can be tremendously helpful for the organizational structure at work.
I strongly recommend reading the below article to take a look at a list of the top available open-source systems
#11- Follow the latest trends
Following the latest trends in document management should be part of any plan your organization should implement. This will allow you to adapt to latest technologies that will help make this process more efficient.
What is Included in Document Management?
Document management is a process of organizing, storing, and managing the documents of an organization.
The process includes the creation and arrangement of documents, as well as the retrieval and updating of these documents. Document management includes both physical and digital processes.
Document management is important for any organization, especially in today’s digital world where digital files are more prevalent than ever before. It is also important for businesses to keep their records in order so that they can be easily retrieved when needed.