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Documents are the most important asset for every organization, yet the majority of them continue to rely on ineffective document management strategies, which have a negative influence on the general smoothness of corporate operations. A solid document management strategy enables employees to easily locate, retrieve, and distribute critical documents.
A 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 format. It should precisely describe these activities and be widely used in all departments.
Every organization need a document management strategy to control the flow of information, improve accessibility, reduce operating and storage costs, protect sensitive information, track documents activities, and comply with various industry and government rules and regulations.
Despite the fact that most businesses have certain standard document management practices, the document management strategy should be adapted to your company’s needs and a thorough grasp of how business documents are used and maintained throughout daily operations.
In this article, we will go over various steps that can assist your organization in developing the best strategy for managing your documents.
I also strongly recommend reading the below article to become a document management specialist
8 Steps for The Perfect Document Management Strategy
There are steps to writing the document management strategy for your organization including setting up a document management team, examining document-centric processes, establishing your goals, identifying document classifications, getting rid of unnecessary documents, and developing the plan.
1- Form a Document Management Team
Having a dedicated team to identify and understand how documents are to be created, received, preserved, stored, secured, and shared throughout the business is critical, regardless of the size of the organization.
This team will typically include individuals from each department who will assess and communicate the various demands in order for them to be incorporated into the overall plan.
Every team member serves as a liaison between the project team and their relevant department. They will select which documents must be kept and how they should be stored.
Some team members should be certified in enterprise content management or document management concepts. This will aid in the formulation of the document management strategy without the need for trial and error at the outset.
It is recommended that you get the help of a document management company in determining needs and executing the appropriate plan to satisfy them.
2- Investigate Current Document-Centric Processes
Following the formation of the team, individuals from several departments will study and investigate each unique document-centric process. They must generally identify the current lifecycle of documents, including how they are generated or received, saved, managed, safeguarded, shared, authorized or denied, and deleted.
In this step, documents should be carefully reviewed to identify how they are
- Generated or received
- Maintained and stored
- Approved or rejected
- And so on
I strongly recommend reading the below article that cover the document lifecycle in details.
3- Establish Goals and KPIs
To determine if a project was effectively completed or failed, you must first create your goals and then, throughout the implementation phase, evaluate the KPIs to see if they are on track. A document management strategy is no exception.
It is vital to identify the goals that your business is attempting to achieve, as well as the challenges that must be handled in both the long and near term.
Whether you want a fully paperless office or want to optimize the value of your documents while lowering costs. This must be well described.
Some measurements should also be taken before and after the document management plan is implemented. For example, how long did it take an employee to get a document before and after the adjustment, how long a certain document process takes, how much space is saved, and so on.
4- Identify Document Classifications
One of the most important step while creating a document management strategy is to identify the types of documents your organization use the most.
The team should identify and specify all possible document classifications within the company. The key goal is to determine what sorts of documents, such as reports, budgets, invoices, contracts, and so on, should be maintained.
The team also must enable searching using consistent attribute values that determine the document’s classification, issue purpose, and status; additionally, using a well-defined document numbering scheme in which specific codes denote the record’s classification, discipline, and type will lead to more efficient searches and easy retrieval.
5- Get Rid of Unnecessary Documents
Once the classification has been completed and the inventory has been established, it is time to remove all unnecessary documents and files that are taking up extra space.
To begin, the team should remove any unneeded documents distributed across several locations in order to reduce the quantity of documents your organization should be processing.
It can be done manually by team members or automatically with the use of AI technologies. Some businesses choose to save the documents for future reference.
6- Develop The Document Management Strategy
When the above steps are completed, now it is the time to start drafting the document management strategy that will help you achieve the goals already defined in step.
This step is the most important step in which it will take the longest to achieve. The strategy should focus on important considerations such as
- Document identifier numbers
- Document version numbers
- Identify document categorization and classifications
- Access the approval cycle, if any, for each document type
- Identify document statues and their naming convention
- Define the retention period of each document type
- Define document destruction schedules
- Define the method of document destructions
- State what is the archiving method
- Define access rights to ensure maximum document security
- Schedule documents backup and recovery plan to be used in the event of data loss
- and so on.
The strategy should also consider minimizing the amount of paper documents and beginning the digitization process. In addition, we will look at ways to optimize document-centric workflows to ensure that all business functions execute smoothly.
7- Strategy Implementation
When the document management strategy is complete, begin implementing all of the established best practices in one of the departments, preferably the one with the fewest documents, rules, and processes.
After carefully picking the department, you should train a few personnel there and convey in them the importance of the task at hand.
It is also critical to capture all actions and challenges encountered in order to address them at your next team meeting.
8- Conduct Recurring Team Meeting
The selected team from step 1 should meet every now and then in order to review, discuss, and share the progress of the implementation phase. When problems arise, they should work together to find a solution that works for all departments.
Document management best practices should be updated on a regular basis since new sources of documents may begin to come into your business, and without a suitable plan, they will be managed ineffectively.