Document Management Plan: The Complete Guide

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Written By Haissam Abdul Malak

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Creating a document management plan for your business is a hard and tedious process. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose valuable time if you’re not careful.

A document management plan is a document that outlines the policies, procedures, and guidelines for managing documents in digital and physical form within your organization.

This exhaustive task is a must-have for any business, but it can be incredibly time-consuming. You can’t afford to be unfocused or unorganized while you’re creating your plans!

9 Steps To Create The Best Document Management Plan for Your Business can help you step-by-step create an actionable document management plan that fits your needs and budget!

What is a Document Management Plan?

A document management plan is a useful tool for businesses because it helps to streamline internal processes and eliminate unnecessary steps to reduce costs.

Document management plans vary by industry. However, they are often used to manage the flow of documents between different departments or divisions within an organization. By tracking these documents and their progress through the system, managers can better understand how well their company is operating as well as how to improve it.

It includes the following:

Different Types of Document Management Plans

There are three types of document management plans: paper-based, digital, and hybrid. Each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks that you should consider before choosing one for your company.

The first type is a paper-based plan which is generally used in smaller businesses with less than 100 employees. With this plan, employees bring their paperwork into the office each day to process them efficiently during their workday.

The second type is a digital document management plan which is generally used in larger businesses with more than 100 employees. With this plan, employees can be anywhere in the world and still have access to their company’s documents through cloud-based applications.

A third type is a hybrid approach which is generally used by companies with 50 or fewer employees. The hybrid approach includes both electronic and physical document management plans.

How to Create a Document Management Plan

The document management plan should be created in conjunction with other important business processes like the project management plan and the business continuity plan. The document management plan will include all related policies and procedures.

Document management plans are usually created by IT professionals or consultants who have knowledge in this area. However, it is also possible for non-IT professionals to create a document management plan for their organization.

It starts with identifying the types of documents in your organization, who has access to these documents, how they are stored and retrieved, and how long they should be retained.

Step 1: Identify the types of documents in your organization:- Month-end reports- Training manuals- HR records (e.g. paystubs, personnel files)- Employee departure letters or termination notices – Service level agreements- Warranty certificates- Health records.

Step 2: Identify who has access to these documents:- The employee team for training manuals- Employees for HR files, service level agreements, termination letters, and health records- Contract Manager for warranty certificates, and month-end reports at the end of each month.

Step 3: Identify how documents are stored and retrieved:- In paper form in cabinets that are locked- On a private cloud within certain intranet websites- On a SharePoint site accessible to employees- In an online database (e.g. Microsoft Access) with access available via web browser, web app, or mobile app.

Step 4: Conduct a risk assessment for these documents. Information that could be considered a threat, such as termination notices, personal information, health records, and paystubs is likely to require an additional level of security. beyond what is required for other documents.

Step 5: Identify additional security controls (e.g. data protection, encryption, firewalls) to implement to protect these documents.

Step 6: Create document management policies: Document management policies are vital for companies that want to share or collaborate on documents. These policies detail what should happen when someone creates a document, who has access, and how these documents are stored. They ensure that the company is compliant with the legislation and can also help to mitigate risks by providing clear documentation.

Step 7: Get rid of unnecessary documents: You should now have a list of documents that you no longer need. Find ways to dispose of them and get rid of them in a responsible way.

Step 8: Define a document retention plan for different types of documents: Your company has many different types of documents. Some are classified as business records, some as financial records, and others as legal records. You need to periodically purge these documents from your electronic storage.

A document retention plan is a set of policies that define how to keep and maintain essential documents in a business.

Step 9: Define document management best practices: Document management best practices define the steps that should be taken to ensure that documents are being properly managed and archived. They are essential for any organization to make sure that important documents are not lost in the shuffle.

Key Points to Include in Your Plan

The paper-based document management plan should include:

  • A step-by-step process for how the company will manage documents in general.
  • Where to store paper documents.
  • Who is responsible for managing paper documents as they walk out of the door at the end of their day?
  • How often the company will go through and sort paper documents to find duplicates, surplus, or outdated documents?
  • The process for disposing of paper documents when they have reached their expiration date or will no longer be needed.
  • How to find and use donated documents that are in good condition.

The digital document management plan should include:

  • A summary of your organization’s vision and goals
  • A description of how you view current technology issues that affect document management
  • An overview of the challenges the organization faces in digital document management and the current level of adoption
  • The types of documents that your organization handles
  • A list of desired outcomes for digital document management

A well-written document management plan will help you to avoid problems, such as:

  • Document overflow
  • Mismanagement of documents
  • Paperwork overload
  • Document loss
  • Misuse of resources

How to Put Your Document Management Plan into Action

The document management plan provides a clear outline of the steps and timeframes for each task. It also includes some helpful tips and tricks for the process.

Some of the most common tasks include: creating a digital asset library, implementing an electronic workflow, creating an information governance policy, and implementing an enterprise content management system.

Some of the steps in the implementation process are:

  • Create a list of key documents
  • Create a list of departments or groups that have responsibility for managing documents
  • Create a list of locations where documents should be stored
  • Create a document inventory system that includes all types of information about each document

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