There is a beginning and an end to everything in life. This is known as the lifecycle. Documents are the same way.
Each document that we work on must go through a sequence of stages, from creation to archive or destruction. That is referred to as the document lifecycle.
The document lifecycle refers to the stages that a document goes through from creation to archiving or destruction, depending on the type, format, and application purpose as determined by the organizational structure and underlying business processes.
Companies must deal with massive amounts of unstructured data as digital technologies grow. It is a significant difficulty to convert this information into an organized, usable format.
Because not all documents should be treated identically, it is critical for businesses to design and specify internal protocols for how they intend to handle their documents.
Defining a clear document lifecycle procedure is a part of the overall content management strategy, which specifies how information is obtained, organized, stored, secured ,and delivered in the most efficient manner feasible.
Understanding the document life cycle may help businesses prevent document loss, redundancy, premature destruction, and other inefficiencies.
In this post, we will discuss the document life cycle, document stages, and the significance of each step.
What is Document Lifecycle?
As previously said, the document lifecycle is the series of phases that documents must go through in order to be effectively managed and produce higher business operations efficiency. Organizations must monitor every stage of each document’s path to ensure that nothing is lost.
It is regarded as a critical component of the enterprise content management strategy because it specifies how documents are generated, gathered, structured, stored, shared, secured, and given to business decision makers.
There are four major steps that all documents, regardless of their type or format, must go through.
- Sharing and Delivery
- Archival or Destrcution
As we shall see in a moment, each step has distinct characteristics to ensure that documents correspond to the enterprise’s established standards.
Most of the cases, documents move back and forth between these stages.
These document lifecycle stages are universal to all organizations; however, depending on the needs of the company, they can be amended or additional phases introduced, such as for document approval, workflow-related procedures, and so on.
Document Lifecyle Stages
There is a document item and a matching document status in each phase, which are specified differently in the document lifecycle.
Each processing step introduces new needs for data management as well as the underlying rights and role management.
As previously stated, the four most prevalent phases are as follows:
1- Document Creation
Document creation is the initial stage in the document lifecycle.
Generating a document could be done in many ways
- Utilizing word processing tools such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs
- Part of a document digitization project to convert paper documents to digital. Unfortunately, most businesses’ documents are still in paper form and may require digitization using a scanner, OCR software, or other advanced technologies.
- Automatically gathered from many sources.
The document enters the storage phase once it is created.
2- Document Storage
Documents should be moved to a secure cloud storage repository, an internal server, or a document management or content management system at this step so that they may be accessed as needed.
When it comes to storing documents, we must first apply basic indexing, classifications and categorization to guarantee that we have a well ordered digital library.
At this stage, it is also critical that we may apply a variety of strategies and techniques to enable workers to access information as quickly as feasible. Metadata and document tagging are two of these strategies.
Metadata may be a very beneficial technique since users can search for any of these pieces of information to find a document and give it context.
I strongly advise you to read the piece below, which goes into depth on how metadata may be used and the benefits it can provide to any document management process.
Document tagging may be as basic as a single label or as a sequence of labels that offer information about the contents and purpose of the document. For example, you may label a document with keywords such as internal memo, budget, communication, and so on.
Revision security, versioning, synchronization, and change management/release all play essential roles in adding security and transparency to the collaborative process at this stage.
3- Document Sharing & Delivery
At this point, the document is operational and serves its function.
This stage defines how documents are shared, collaborated on, and edited, whether by an individual or a group of people using real-time and non-real-time approaches.
Documents may be shared via the platform for simple collaboration via expiry links or more complex approaches such as commenting, collaboration tools, or document annotation technology.
These documents may be distributed internally (inside the business) or shared with third-party stakeholders such as subcontractors, clients, and so on.
You may have come across certain documents that require revision by your supervisor or someone with greater knowledge with the kind of document. As a result, many businesses add a new phase in the document lifecycle for approvals before making the papers available to other parties.
4- Document Archival or Destruction
The majority of documents have a finite active life. Once a document has served its purpose, it should be preserved or destroyed in accordance with an organization’s records retention plan to maintain compliance with industry or government rules and regulations.
Using a system, this procedure may be automated, resulting in reduced mistake and human interaction.
Document Status In the Lifecycle
Depending on your organization’s demands, each document will have a varied status throughout its existence.
Let’s analyze the 6 primary statuses:
1- In Process
The document was either generated recently or a new version of the document is being created.
The document is submitted for review and approval.
This state is active or deactivated depending on the type of document.
The document must be approved by the appropriate party after it has been submitted for review. When it is approved, the document’s status will change to “Approved.”
Some companies will additionally add a new status to their document, “Approved with comments.”
The document version has been issued, and no modifications may be made to it.
This version of the document was not approved. The document is returned to the editing stage or is ended.
Because the document’s version is no longer actively available in the document lifecycle, no subsequent operations (printing, modification, versioning) may be done on it.
Check out this guide for more information about document lifecycle