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4 steps for better document management

John Hoskins
November 28, 2013

All projects require document management to some degree. Any time that you store away a document—whether hard copy or electronic—this is part of your document management system. However, many organisations have problems with document management. When they do not have a system in place, this leads to problems when it comes to retrieving important documents.

If you are in this situation, you can set up a much more efficient document management solution in just three simple steps.

1. Be consistent with document creation
The secret of a successful document management system is all in the planning. Firstly, you need to set down some standards when it comes to document creation so that everyone on your project creates documents using the same templates. Being consistent at the document creation stage will make the whole system a lot more efficient right up to the point of retrieval.

2. Store documents systematically
The next stage is to plan how and where you will store your documents. You need to be very specific about this stage because one of the major headaches of document management is finding the correct documents in the first place.

Whether documents are stored in paper or online formats, you need to have specific rules for your project team members that they can easily follow to ensure they store the documents in the correct place.

You could create a guide that all of your employees can use when they are looking for a particular document. Because you now have a system in place for creating and storing the documents efficiently, document retrieval becomes a lot less time consuming.

3. Focus on security
Security is a key part of any effective document management solution. Effective data protection is especially important if you handle any personal data, and you must ensure that any sensitive information is out of reach not just from people outside the company but from your own employees.

There will be some people for whom access to particular documents will not be necessary, so make sure you have a system in place whereby you know exactly who has access to which documents, whether they are paper documents locked in a filing system or electronic documents that are protected by encryption.

4. Be consistent
Once you have your system in place, ensure consistency among your project team members by carrying out spot checks. It may take a while before everyone gets used to the new system, but it is imperative that everyone sticks to the new process to ensure the success of your system.

The above is a guide to getting a basic document management system in place. However, you may want something more efficient for your organisation. Many companies choose to use specialist document management solutions, and these can be very effective.

There are many companies offering such services, and all solutions are therefore slightly different. If you would like to invest in such a solution, it is a good idea to look at a range of options to find out which one is most suitable for your organisation.

Document management is important for saving time and money in every organisation. Even a small project can enjoy huge benefits from efficient document management. Whether you sort out your own system in the office or you invest in a professional document management system, make sure you manage your documents more efficiently from now on and enjoy the benefits that it brings.

John Hoskins
John Hoskins has managed a busy office for some time now. An avid writer, he likes to share his insights a various online blogs. Visit Micro Com Systems for more document management ideas.
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