Document Management Systems

Man sitting at his computer with a pile of documents next to him

If you have ended up at this article, it is likely that you have been browsing the internet looking for a document management solution, only to find different companies trying to sell their products to you. You won’t need to buy anything because it is likely that you already have the tools that you need in your office. There are three basic steps to take when implementing a document management solution: step one, create your plan; step two, implement your plan; and step three, follow through.

Creating Documents

While working and keeping track of your business you will come across and even create many different forms of documents. In order to manage these documents properly, a system needs to be created. You need to know what documents your business uses; where they are kept; if there is a specific format that must be followed; what needs to be time-stamped or dated; and what  you and your employees should do when receiving and sharing documents.

It is important to be consistent; and in doing so, this will also increase efficiency for projects that will be completed by more than one person. A document management solution also provides a central location for templates, making them easy to find and track revisions.

Storing Documents

There are two things you will need to consider when choosing how to store your documents. Firstly, if you utilize filing cabinets for your storage, the cost of the cabinets is not the only thing to consider; you will be paying employees to look up these files every time they are needed (which takes much longer than electronic storage). Secondly, you must figure out how you will organize the files within the cabinets (or on your computer).

Make sure you know how you will archive files; the ones that can be put on the back shelf and don’t need to be used all of the time. You should move files at least once a year into the archive, but many businesses choose to archive by month, or by subject. This system of archiving old files can also be implemented in a physical, cabinet method.

Retrieving Documents

Did you know that it could be costing you more than 2000 dollars a year to store and manage your documents? Your employees are spending almost an hour a day looking for documents ( Based on this survey’s findings, with the right system of document management, you could save yourself over 2000 dollars a year!

You might like to take advantage of creating a document where employees can look up what they should be naming certain files (i.e. Company Name- Invoice No.) and where these files are to be stored (i.e. Shared Drive – Documents – Invoices – February). If your document management solution includes both electronic and physical copies of files, be sure to include in this list whether the document belongs in a cabinet or on the computer. Give each employee a copy of this list and post it on the filing cabinets.

Securing Documents

Even if your business is a small at-home operation, you still need a security system. The best defense against information theft is protection against all theft and unauthorized entry. Get an alarm system. It is also possible to acquire bars for the windows, security cameras, or a security guard if you think you require one. Keep all of your filing cabinets locked at lunch and after closing, and back up your files regularly.

You can safeguard against some problems by password protecting certain documents (which can be done through Microsoft Office programs, and does not require any additional software). However, a password won’t protect your files if employee theft is a problem. Further ensure your company’s privacy and overall security by fact-checking all employees before hiring them.