7 essential best practices for document management
When you’re thinking about how to implement digital document management for your company – or how to enhance your existing system – focusing on the fundamentals and defining your goals – ensures success. These proven best practices will give you a head start.
How To Apply Best Practices In Your Business
1. Set goals and develop key metrics
Many companies don’t take the time to set goals and determine how to measure their progress. Being specific is the most important thing. Are you trying to help users find documents more quickly? Save on document storage costs? Improve collaboration?
Before you implement your document management solution, specify the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to measure progress toward your goals and set a baseline so you can benchmark against your existing system. For example, you may discover it takes 10 minutes to process an invoice with your current system and find out it only takes two minutes after using digital document management for a month. Sharing these measurable successes with your colleagues is a terrific way to show the value of the project and encourage user adoption as you move forward.
2. Prioritise business processes and systems to automate
Automated processes reduce time and effort for employees, which ultimately reduces costs for your company. Make sure you prioritise automation efforts to focus on processes that business-critical and align your objectives. You might want to speed up order processing, improve customer service response times or integrate with your accounting system to capture more early payment discounts.
For example, a manufacturer decided to use document management to respond more quickly when customers asked about the technical details related to their orders. Prior to automating this process, the average response time was 6 to 10 hours, depending on whether the order was stored onsite or had to be retrieved from an offsite storage location. After automation with digital document management, the manufacturer reduced the average response time to less than 30 seconds.
3. Improve paper-based processes instead of emulating them
Many companies make the mistake of trying to replicate their paper-based processes in a digital context, instead of taking the opportunity to eliminate extra steps. When you’re setting up digital processes, ask yourself why you’ve followed a certain procedure in the past, and whether those actions are necessary in this new context.
The experience of a state government agency is a case in point. The agency wanted to convert its purchasing approval process into a digital workflow. At first, it reproduced the paper-based process, which relied on the comptroller’s assistant to collect and route approvals at every stage. By building business rules into its document management system, the agency was able to route invoices for approval without a gatekeeper at every step.
4. Capture content close to the point of origin
Document capture that is as close to the source as possible saves time and improves data quality. Tools like virtual printers and electronic forms are great examples. Virtual printers enable you to save documents directly to your document management system without printing and scanning them first. And electronic forms allow you to automatically extract data from a document, reducing manual data entry. These eforms simplify, improve and accelerate data collection. Not only are they instantly available to anyone on any device, but forms provide structure to data, so it can be used to automate information flow.
It’s also important to be able to share data with your ERP, CRM or other business software. When your document management solution and other systems can “speak” to one another, retrieving data and sharing it between systems keeps business information in sync.
5. Make sure the user interface is straightforward and intuitive
You want users to get into the system, get what they need and get out with as few clicks and steps as possible – and without unnecessary clutter on their desktops. Document management systems are designed to solve many different problems, but all the features shouldn’t be displayed on every user’s screen. A good system allows administrators and users to view only the elements each user needs to accomplish a task. Customising the interface makes it easier for a person to accomplish their tasks without confusing or overwhelming them with irrelevant details.
6. Take advantage of the cloud
With on-premises systems applications, storage and networking technology are installed within the four walls of your business or data centre. Physical assets like servers, routers and hard drives are purchased, installed and ultimately replaced. They require expensive, time-consuming maintenance, upgrades, integrations and security monitoring. In addition, cloud service providers assume responsibility for system upgrades and security patches enabling you to scale up your solution without additional IT resources. Employees, especially those working remotely, also benefit significantly because a cloud-based business operates on the “any-X” principal: their best work can happen anywhere, on any device, at any time. With the cloud, the entire model of expense is flipped: subscriptions to services can be categorised as operational expenses rather than capital expenditure. That’s why from a purely budgetary standpoint, the cloud makes a whole lot of sense.
7. Set up a free trial account
Taking software for a test run is better than any discussion of how it works in theory. A hands-on experience with Key Digital’s automation tools is a great place to start. You can develop a better understanding of document management by uploading your own documents and using the “Your First Steps” and Knowledgebase documentation. Access a ready-to-use cloud document management system prebuilt digital file cabinets, document storage, sharing settings and more. Start storing documents the minute it’s up and running.
If you want to get the most from a new system, or make your existing solution more effective, these document management best practices aren’t just options – they’re essential.