Over the past few years, I've worked as an inbound marketing consultant for B2B organizations across the US and Canada. During that time, many documents have passed through my field of vision. I’ve had documents emailed, shared through the cloud, printed, and scanned to me. I feel as if I've seen it all.
Looking back I realize, few companies had a formal system for sharing documents; some had virtually no policy at all. Too often the document storage and retrieval process was seemingly dictated not by what solution worked best in keeping documents safe and accessible to those who need them, but on employee or manager preference at the time.
Though the availability of saas document management has certainly helped companies get out of their file cabinet and into the cloud, companies struggle the document storage and retrieval process for electronic files, too. Fortunately, company decision makers can put a kibosh on unstructured document sharing and storage and begin viewing document management as a holistic policy central to a healthy business. Here's how:
Believe that Documents Should Live in One Place
Take a mental snapshot of your current document management infrastructure for your team. Think about the variety of different ways that people in your organization share files, how many emails are exchanged a day, and the number of small changes made to documentation by multiple people. Think about all the documentation that lives on each employee’s desktop computer and how many times that computer was reformatted during its lifetime with your company. Now, try to think about how someone would find a document from 5 years ago by someone no longer at the company. Do you feel overwhelmed yet? You should. A Coopers & Lybrand study in Inc Magazine estimated that it cost $120 to search for a misfiled document.
Trust that Collaboration Should Be Secure and Easy
According to Forester Research, more than 34 Million people telecommute 1 to 4 every week in the US. As the number progresses to an estimated 63 million, you may find that your employees need a clear electronic document management policy and document management system in place to keep documents secure when accessed virtually.
When individual employees dictate the electronic document management policy in your organization, documents are forced to live in multiple places. Collaboration between teams can transform into a scavenger hunt to find the latest version of a document rather than focusing on the work itself. For highly collaborative departments (marketing, HR) that interact with a variety of different teams, important conversations about documents should take place in a central, secure location. Even if the company has an intranet where documents are saved; it’s helpful for teams to be able to access the entire history of that document and comments at a glance. Documents (and their context) should not disappear when someone goes on vacation.
Be a Proponent of Document Security
Imagine that in the course of a year three employees leave your organization and several freelancers come and go.
Document management software can make turning off the flow of information to someone no longer in the company easier, as that countless information could be accessible after an individual leaves the company. My email archive is full of documentation from past employers and a quick search in my Google Docs reveals I still have access to documents shared through that portal, too. Companies should be able to easily and quickly terminate someone’s access to company documentation in an instant.
Realize that Email Isn't a Helpful On-Boarding Tool
Starting an employee off on the right foot can be challenging for any organization, but it’s especially difficult for organizations without an electronic document management policy and document management system.
Think about the time it takes to send email after email of documentation to a new employee. Imagine how much easier it would be to welcome a new employee to your organization if they could log-in to one document management software and discover all the files they are permitted access to right away, including HR files that need to be filled out on their first day.
- Shannon Sweetser
featured licensed through the Creative Commons, by Victor.