Imagine you’ve just signed the lease on a new home. And not just a new home, a better one. Nicer location, bigger space, better school system, immaculate golf course around the corner. It’s all right within your reach.
And then you realize: you have to move things. Everything. Where do you even start?
The hardest part is always getting started. Our clients take a giant leap in the right direction when they adopt a document management system, but often don’t know what to do to set it in motion.
If you have a ton of different types of documents floating around, different versions, duplicates, etc., all haphazardly saved in the moment and spread across multiple folders (and sometimes multiple users), you need to know the best practices to maximizing the value of your DMS. Take these document management tips with you:
1. Set Up a Realistic Project Timeline
Remember, everyone still has their normal job to do. Set realistic goals mandating the use of the application. Ensure that the vendor provides training and ongoing support so that your users have the information they need to embrace the system.
2. Identify Document Categories
Identify and index which documents belong in which categories. Name each category, or archive, with an easy, concise, descriptive title that will be simple to recognize, such as “Accounts Payable”, or “Corporate Records.” Your users should understand what documents the archive contains. This will ensure quick access later, as users will know where to look.
3. Start Small and Build on Your Successes
Start small and scale the application functionality when you're ready. You can try out one of the more basic modules at first—perhaps just capturing, storing and retrieving documents. Start in only one area of your company (make sure that this area has an early adopter) and focus on the success.
Once your employees start to feel more comfortable with the new system, start implementing other modules, such as the automated business process workflow or records management function for even more benefits to your organization.
4. Outline All Steps in Your Workflow
Before using the electronic workflow module to automate the flow of documents, be sure to map the current business processes, review for efficiency, and then chart it out step by step. You should do this before initial implementation so that you receive a clear understanding from all team members of their roles in the workflow.
Once documented, you can then look for ways to streamline or improve. If you are unsure of how to easily do this, ask the vendor for help; the vendor’s success depends on your success in using the application.
5. Set and Secure Access to User Accounts
Always take the proper security precautions. The administrator is able to set which users and groups have access to which documents. Use this tool! You can also set up “view only” accounts where the user may view documents, but cannot edit or change them. This will help with compliance issues and allow potential audits to run smoothly.
One Brick at a Time
Again, in all of these areas, always ask the vendor for assistance. Think of them as the movers and the interior designers who walk you through the move at no additional cost. Not only does it remove a lot of the burden from you, but also the vendor typically knows the easiest ways to perform these steps based upon their years of experience.
Remember, you started with running through tens of thousands of sheets of paper, and spending tens of thousands of hours annually searching for documents. Now you’ve set up one centralized location to securely store and retrieve your important information with quick, universal access from any location.
It’s an exciting change, but one that takes getting used to, nonetheless. You may not get everything working perfectly immediately. But you can build a solid framework one brick at a time.