Creating a document management plan for your business can be a hard and tedious process. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose valuable time if you’re not careful. This 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!
A document management plan is a structured strategy for organizing, storing, and handling documents within an organization. It outlines procedures for document creation, distribution, retention, and disposal to ensure efficient information management and compliance with regulations.
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:
- Document policies
- Document retention schedules
- Document classification schemes
- Document workflow
- Document archives management
- Latest trends in document management.
Types of available 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 focuses on the creation, storage, retrieval, and disposal of physical documents, such as hard copies of contracts, invoices, and records. It typically includes guidelines for file organization, labeling, and storage which will ensure that documents are easily accessible and well-maintained.
The hybrid plan is where organizations recognize the importance of managing both paper-based and electronic documents effectively. Hybrid document management involves scanning and digitizing physical documents, allowing for easier access, storage, and retrieval of information.
The digital plan is a modern and efficient approach to handling documents entirely in electronic format. It involves creating, storing, organizing, and retrieving documents in digital form, such as PDFs, Word files, spreadsheets, and more.
How to create a document management plan
An effective plan should be created in conjunction with other important business processes like the project management plan and the business continuity plan. It will include all related policies and procedures and usually created by IT professionals or consultants who have knowledge in this specific field.
Here are 9 steps to create and implement a document management plan:
Step 1: Identify the types of documents in your organization
The initial step in this plan is to identify the types of documents within your organization. This involves categorizing and cataloging various document types, such as contracts, invoices, reports, and emails to gain a comprehensive understanding of the information landscape.
Step 2: Identify access control
By carefully mapping out the individuals or roles that can view, edit, or distribute documents, organizations can establish robust access control measures. This step ensures that sensitive information remains secure and only authorized personnel can interact with critical documents, contributing to data protection and compliance.
Step 3: Identify how documents are stored and retrieved
This involves evaluating the existing storage systems, whether physical or digital, and establishing efficient methods for document retrieval. By understanding the storage infrastructure and implementing organized retrieval processes, organizations can streamline their operations, enhance productivity, and ensure quick access to essential information.
Step 4: Conduct a risk assessment for these documents
This involves evaluating potential threats to document security, including data breaches, natural disasters, or unauthorized access. By identifying vulnerabilities, organizations can implement safeguards, backup strategies, and security measures to mitigate risks and safeguard their critical information assets. This proactive approach ensures data protection and business continuity.
Step 5: Identify additional security controls
In this step, you should go through all the existing security measures and determine whether there is a need for additional security control to protect sensitive documents. Usually, this can be done by implementing file and data encryption, two step authentication protocols, and/or disaster recovery plans.
These measures will allow organizations to ensure that their documents can’t be easily exposed and only authorized personnel will be able to view them.
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
It is very critical at this stage to systematically identify outdate and redundant documents both in physical and digital formats in order to apply the proper destruction method. By decluttering your digital document repository, your organization will optimize storage space which will directly improve the retrieval process.
Step 8: Define a document retention plan
Most organizations are required to comply to different rules and industry regulations related to the period of time to store documents legally. That is why it is very important to establish clear guidelines for how long various types of documents should be retained, taking into account legal requirements and operational needs.
Organizations can systematically archive, manage, and dispose of documents in a compliant and organized manner, reducing the risk of retaining unnecessary or outdated records.
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
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