Realizing the need to implement a document management system is a telling sign that your business is growing. And acting upon that realization means that you are now taking a step towards building a smarter, more efficient organization. However, transitioning to electronic document management from manual, paper-based document management processes may not be a very straightforward process, especially if it’s your first time implementing such a tool. Although you can implement a document management solution without much assistance, making the most of it will require you to follow certain best practices which you may or may not know about.
Implementing document management software: The preparation
Choose the right software vendor for your organization
Once you’ve chosen the document management tool to use, you must prepare your organization to record all the documents that you’ve been storing using other means.
Determine the number of licenses required
Most document management software applications, like any other business software, are sold on a ‘per user per month’ or ‘per user per year’ basis. Depending on the functions you want to implement electronic document management in, you can choose which members of your organization may require access to the tool. For instance, if you only want the document management tool to build an easily searchable repository of documents and nothing more, you can purchase it for a single user. On the other hand, if you want to use the document management software to enable easy collaboration and sharing of documents among the different members of your organization, you must get the document management system for multiple users. The latter also applies if you want the document management software to act as an automation tool for your document-related workflows so that you can expedite your business operations.
Determining the number of users will give you a definite idea of the budget required for the document management tool.
Keep all your paper documents ready for scanning and filing
To hit the ground running with a new document management system and also to ensure that you maintain a continuous trail of documentation, you must prepare the documents you already possess to be converted and stored in the document management software. These documents may be paper ones or electronic ones stored in different folders, drives or cloud services. You must ensure that you have all the documents ready to be converted into the electronic format. They must be arranged and sorted as per your system of document organization so that there is no hassle when the documents are scanned.
Having chosen the right document management tool, it is important that you perform all the implementation procedures outlined below to ensure that your document management software becomes an integral part of your organization.
Implementing document management software: The process
Implementing a new electronic document management system generally means establishing a new set of practices to accommodate, and make the most of, the software. However, if you choose the right software, you can actually make it a natural part of your organization and your business operations. This will minimize the time required for your employees to adjust to the new system and allow you to experience the benefits of document management in a very little time.
The first step would be to add the users to your document management database. This will determine who will use the software, their credentials, hierarchical roles, and other supporting information to give them the necessary access. To make this process easier and faster, you should look for document management software that comes with Windows Active Directory integration support. This will enable your system administrator to import users directly from the database of all the system users in your organization with a single click.
Create user roles and assign privileges
Creating a security structure is important to ensure that the improved shareability of information does not compromise the confidentiality of information.
Define a document organization structure
Tags are searchable words or short phrases attached to documents that describe the contents of those documents. So for instance, if you have a service agreement (which is a contract document type) that you signed with a client named “UVW Corp.” which has expired, you can add tags to it like “SA” for service agreements, “UVW” to indicate the client name, and “expired” to denote the status. When you want to specifically want to find the document, you can easily search for the tags and find the document. You can search for single tags to find a group of documents, For example, you can search for the tag “UVW” to find all the documents associated with the client. Or you can search for “SA” to find all the service agreements pertaining to all clients. Using multiple tags will enable you to narrow down your search.
Document types are a way of classification that is almost unique to just document management software. Users of such software can define and create document types that they encounter frequently (e.g., contract, invoice, receipt, payslip, purchase order, bills, etc.) Each document type can have its own set of supporting details or metadata. For example, an invoice can have metadata like “Amount”, “Due date”, “Payment status”, etc. A receipt can have metadata like “Amount”, “Paid on”, “Payment mode”, etc. These pieces of supporting information describe the contents of the documents without requiring the users to open the documents to find this information. Metadata also helps in searching for individual documents based on these details. So, you can easily find the number of invoices that are unpaid by searching for invoices and then sorting the search results by “payment status”. Or you can simply perform a conditional search to only find “invoice” type documents having “payment status” as ‘unpaid’.
You should define all the different types of documents that your organization deals with as soon as you install your new document management tool. This ensures that all the documents that you add to your newly created document repository are easily identifiable and retrievable.
The document management software can also be configured to scan specific pages of different documents to read and parse metadata and store this information in the corresponding metadata fields. For example, say you know that the bottom right corner of all invoice documents contains the amount. You can configure the document management system to specifically scan the bottom right corner of invoice documents to parse the value to be filled in the “amount” metadata field. Thus, any value printed on the bottom right corner will be scanned and saved as the “amount” when the document is filed. This saves a lot of time for your team, which would otherwise be spent in manually entering the metadata after opening and reading each document.
Create standardized workflows
Implementing document management software: The practices
Following are a couple of best practices that businesses can follow to ensure that they make the most of their document management systems:
Establish a day forward filing system
Day forward scanning is the process of scanning and filing paper documents into your electronic document management system as and when they are generated. This ensures that all documents are accounted for in your central repository, making them easy to find when needed. This also saves a lot of time that would be otherwise wasted in backfile scanning of huge piles of documents. Scanning documents as and when they are generated is a good practice as it also minimizes the likelihood of documents being lost, damaged, or destroyed while being stored in the physical paper form.
Training your employees to use the document management system is an important step in the document management system implementation process. However, using an easy to use document management tool with a familiar interface can minimize the time, resources, and effort required to train the employees. For example, GLOBODOX has an interface that is akin to that of MS Outlook, which makes its use intuitive for even new users. This means that employees are not only more likely to use the application, they also need very little training and time for adjustment.