There's more to document management software than the tool itself. Online document management demands a strategy, or the end result will be an inconsistent and aimless mess. While your choice of tool is crucial, your strategy is just as important.
1. State Your Business Needs
Every business needs a document management process, and most can benefit from online document management software, but you won't get the best results if you don't start with the reasons your business needs a document management strategy in the first place. State it in writing. For example:
- To manage who has access to which documents without unnecessary bureaucracy
- To improve customer service
- To ensure business continuity
- To cut costs
- To store previous copies of documents and who made changes to which documents
It's a good idea to classify your documents and recognize how these goals change for each type of document, in order to build an effective strategy.
2. Define Your Metrics
Next, you need to figure out how you'll measure process improvement. Strike a balance, here. Too much rigor and you waste time collecting data instead of getting things done. Too little effort and you'll end up with useless metrics (or none), and no way to identify if your document management strategy is improving.
A few examples:
- Time spent managing permissions
- Time spent catching teams up to speed
- Money spent on document management
It's more important to ensure something is being measured, and that it relates directly to your goal, than to figure out the perfect way to measure it.
3. Design Best Practices
The next step is to design best practices for your team in order to achieve your goal. Your best practices should not focus too heavily on the tool itself. If your online document management platform is complex enough that it requires more than an hour's worth of training, it's probably the wrong platform to use.
Instead, your best practices should focus on processes. Create a flowchart and try to keep it as simple as possible. Get your employees on the same page to determine how and why they should use the document management system in order to achieve business goals.
4. Track Results and Adjust Accordingly
As soon as the process starts there will be issues and concerns to be dealt with. Listen to feedback from your team and adjust the process accordingly. If employees start using the system in an unexpected way, it's often better to adapt the system rather than to incentivize the employees to change their âhomegrownâ system.
The primary concerns are consistency and business goals. A problem with either can't be blamed on the workforce. It is typically a problem with the best practices or even the software itself, generally because one or the other is counterintuitive and unnecessarily complex.
The key is to find the sweet spot between overwhelming your employees with too much communication, and crippling innovation and synergy with not enough of it.
At all times, keep your sights set on the goals. It's easy to loose track of the purpose of document management without measurement and goal setting.