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Developing Your Document Management System

One of the most important aspects in handling private information is keeping it well managed. The whole concept of a good management system is the ability to create, share, store, and organize your information efficiently and securely. In order to do this, you need to do 3 things to really build out your system: create a plan, implement the plan, and then follow through. Simple right?

Building Your Document Management System

So it’s time for a management system, but before we can jump right into it, we need to create a plan. Plans are good, they provide a direction to travel, and guides on how to navigate through space. In order to make this plan, we first need to answer four important questions.

How Are Documents Created?

Every business has a variety of documents created, invoices, spreadsheets, emails, memos, etc. The best way to keep these things organized is to establish a few rules in regards to document creation. Do new documents need to be time stamped and dated, what do the procedures for sharing documents look like? Do you only use templates, and are these in house templates or 3rd party documents?

Big businesses will surely have a wide range of documents being created all the time, making it harder to keep track of everything, but also making it far more important that they do. Smaller businesses likely have only a few types or styles of documents being made, making their job a bit easier. Size aside, you’ll need to hash out how collaborating on documents is handled for the sake of consistency and efficiency.

How Are Documents Stored?

Once documents are created they need to be kept some place that lets you access them quickly when needed, but keeps them secure while in storage. Will you utilize an off-site storage facility, or will you develop a system for on-site storage. Off-site document storage typically comes with some extra costs beyond the base storage fee, including the time it takes to get people to look for and then pull out the documents that you want, but there are benefits. These places are usually designed with disaster protections built in, fire resistance for example, giving you some extra peace of mind. You may not be able to go that far when storing on-site, but you may decide it is a risk you are going to take anyways.

The key to success is good file management practices, creating a clear and easy-to-follow system. Think about what your plans to archive old documents are as well, how are you planning to deal with outdated documents?

How Will Documents Be Retrieved?

There comes a point when you will want to retrieve a document from storage, and having a good system in place will make this an easy process. It is closely tied with your filing practices, as how you organize your documents will affect how fast you can find what you need. Digital documents are typically faster to find, especially with good organization, and you won’t have to worry about returning it to the right spot. You also need to decide if documents need to be signed out, or some other kind of log kept in regards to access.

How Are You Planning To Secure Documents?

Now comes one of the big considerations: document security. Since documents are chalked full of private information, your security responsibilities are going to be large. Digital documents are going to require cyber security to protect them from attempts at data breaches. You also need to get old hard drives shredded when their time is done, lest you risk data theft. Physical documents need to be stored in a secure place, like a file cabinet or safe, preferably in a secured room, on a secured premise. Security tends to be one of the more expensive aspects of document storage, but it is a vital component, it’s worth spending some extra to get something good set up.

Implement And Follow Through

The best plan in the world is meaningless if you never put it into action, likewise a good plan implemented poorly can be disastrous. Figure out how exactly you will transition into this new process, and get everyone educated into the proper way of doing things. Be open to modifying the plan as you put it into action, you may find that some aspects are great on paper, but are a pain to practice.

Make a plan, put it into action, and keep up with it. That’s how you get started with your document management system.

June 30, 2020