Creating a Document Management System: The Basics
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Creating a Document Management System: The Basics

When planned thoughtfully, a document management system can save companies time and money. They make it easier to file and retrieve documents. Additionally, they act as a guide to organize paper to keep documents from overwhelming the office. In order to set up an effective system, there are some basic steps that every company should take.

Consider your Pain Points

Every company has pain points. These are areas where things get bottlenecked and productivity is held up in processing documents or retrieving paperwork. Consider your own pain points. What areas, when given a little time and attention, could you free up time and implement smoother processes? Are you overloaded with documents? Are you lacking a good plan for cycling those documents through your system and then accessing them again quickly when needed? Is document security and confidentiality a big deal? Consider these areas and make them a priority to solve.

Consider What You are Handling

What types of files are you required to keep? Are they medical or legal? How much human resources paperwork do you handle? Further, consider how quickly you may need to retrieve your documents. Do you need fast access to some files? How long do you need to keep each of these documents? With all of those questions in mind, map out your physical paper handling. Note which departments need access to which files. By thinking through what you are handling, you will come up with a much more robust plan for organization from the start.

Consider the Departments

Meet with a sampling of employees from each department to see what data they are handling and how they are handling them. Send out an employee survey and ask lots of questions. Employees are your boot on the ground and you may find they have additional information for you to consider. Find pain points in their own work days and see if a new document management system will help alleviate any of it.

Consider the Filing Requirements

Even though it is digital, a document management system may need some workarounds. Are you required to keep hard copies onsite? Ideally, all of your files can be completely digitized and the hard copies shredded. In reality, however, this won’t ring true with every file.  Also, take into consideration the digital clutter that may now exist. How long are you required to keep certain files? Make sure to rid yourself of any file you no longer need, hard copy or otherwise.

Choose a Document Management System Software

After you’ve created a helpful roadmap of what you need, it’s time to choose a software. Whether you are a small business or a part of a large corporation, there is a software that will most likely meet a majority of your needs. The trick is to know very thoroughly what you need. Assemble a team that will research options with you. Make sure you beta test whenever possible and don’t jump into the first program you see.

Taking the time to research your needs is an important first step when considering a document management system overhaul. Jumping into a software first may result in you not getting all of your needs met. The best case scenario is that you invest in a program that will allow you to grow in the complexity and use of your document management system.