Creating a Strategy to Manage Business Documents and Data

Does your firm have a system to manage your business documents and data? There is no excuse not to have one!  A document management system is a must-have for many organisations! A DMS helps businesses remain compliant with today’s strict financial regulations and data protection and privacy laws.  To create a strategy, you need to...

Creating a Strategy to Manage Business Documents and Data
manage business documents and data

Does your firm have a system to manage your business documents and data? There is no excuse not to have one!  A document management system is a must-have for many organisations! A DMS helps businesses remain compliant with today’s strict financial regulations and data protection and privacy laws.  To create a strategy, you need to understand how your firm manages paper and electronic files currently. Who has access to these business files? How does your firm processes documents? Where are these documents stored, and for how long?  If you do not have a cloud Document management solution, you should consider the need seriously! It will help save your business money and enhance overall efficiency.

Create a strategy to manage documents and business data:

  1. Determine who will be at the helm

Depending on the size of your business, it is a good idea to create a project team and appoint someone to lead it, from the start through to final implementation. Your team should comprise staff members who collectively will provide you with a thorough understanding of every aspect of how your business currently manages its documents, knowing where and when documents are received, how they are processed and when and where this information is stored.

2. Evaluate existing Filing Systems and document management processes

In the planning phase, it is a good idea to start one department or area of your business at a time. It is also worth naming each process you identify and documenting every step so that you have a record of each workflow.

  • Evaluate current methods for filing and retaining documents – both paper and electronic.
  • Identify workflows – detail how documents are received, processed, stored and eventually removed from the systems.
  • Standardise.  Work out how to normalise business processes to reduce additional system configuration.

3. Identify types of documents

Now workflows are identified and details documented, take an inventory of the documents to classify the types of managed files. IT will help understand the types of documents being worked with and accessed daily. It will also help set policies for how long to keep these business records.

  • Client communication and information
  • Personal information
  • Company records
  • Duplicate document copies
  • Forms
  • Reference materials
  • Personal papers

4. Documents are secondary, Procedures and Requirements are primary

Now the type of documents are known and workflows identified, you can move on to the plan for future management of these files and evaluate how a new document management solution will help you. If you know already what document management system you intend to use, you can start to map your findings into the new system. You will be able to create storage areas, naming conventions, and indexing structures to store metadata that will help you find the files once they are stored.

  • Where will documents be filed and stored?
  • How will files be indexed?
  • How will working papers and document versions be managed?
  • How will workflows be managed?
  • How will staff access files and information?
  • What are the document retention policies?
  • What are the General Data Protection guidelines?
  • How will this affect your Privacy policy?

5. Eliminating documents that are no longer required

Now an implementation plan exists and documents identified, classify files that no longer serve a purpose and that you can delete.  This process will help reduce file storage and improve search times.  Think of it as spring cleaning your business archives.

6. It’s time to organise documents and manage the processes

The system should now be ready to test.

Step-by-step, work your way through each of the workflows identified and follow the detailed procedure to file and store a document. Evaluate each process to see how this works in your chosen document management system.

When all the necessary tests are complete and as expected, roll out the document management solution in your organisation and give staff and client users secure access. 

Review your processes regularly and adjust as needed.  Documents and the types of business information you are managing will change over time. It is a fluid process and therefore deserves reviewing regularly. Remember to diarise a date to review the process with your DMS team.

Happy filing!