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6 steps to Effective Document Management

There are people who personally like a chaotic work station, claiming that the chaos fuels their creativity. That may well be true but it hardly works in a business environment where people want to be as productive as possible. The chaos on your desk can happen over time and to the best of us, a document misplaced can take hours to look for sometimes to no avail.

Day to day documents and files have a huge impact on your business, correct document management can increase customer satisfaction and company productivity. There are still plenty of companies out there that neglect their file management, blame lack of storage and time constraints. Managing your documents and files is essential because the last thing you want is to watch a mountain of paperwork grow.

There are a few steps to take to ensure that you effectively manage your documents:

  1. The document management system requires a dedicated team to work on it, don’t be daunted by the word “team” as you don’t need many workers. The team will consist of a lead and an assistant. You can add more people as and when required but dedicated people are necessary. The team will deal with the paperwork and electronic files on a daily basis.
  1. With the lead in place, they will need to set parameters and processes that will be adhered to in terms of the document management. Most official bodies such as financial and legal firms have specific guidelines for companies to follow in regards to their data. It is important to read through the guidelines and to create a full file management procedure. It is important to specify what is to be kept and what is to be shredded. The guidelines should be available to all departments in the company.
  1. Now it’s time to further plan your file management procedure. A file plan is designed to make referencing documents much easier; the file should act as a checklist to document exactly what is contained within a file, folder or archiving box. A file plan can be as simple or as thorough as you would like but should help you get your hands on files with minimal fuss. With a plan in place you need to regularly check the plan and dispose of those documents that are not required.
  1. Unless you are starting afresh, it is likely you have already had many existing documents and files both electronic and hard copy. To get the best out of your electronic document management system you need to add file plans to each document and record the details in the catalogues. This offers an excellent opportunity to reorganise and audit your files and documents to see if anything is missing or important.
  1. Organising your existing documents will give you a chance to dispose of some old documents; you will need to establish if everything you have is required for storage. If you have folders filled with out of date materials or electronic devices such as CD’s or cassette tapes.
  1. There are many document management solutions that would be beneficial to companies looking to improve their management. These solutions are usually tailored to the specific company and work with the staff to create a programme.

Not sure how a document management system works? Read more about our effective document management courses.