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Every User Counts: How to Encourage Adoption of Your New Document Management System

What Happens If Users Don’t Use It?
It is far too easy for end users to bypass the document management system, which defeats the purpose of installing it in the first place. Many organizations implement document management for records control, and for ensuring compliance with legislation like Sarbanes-Oxley. When a user neglect to use a document management system it can cause company violations of such legislation—and as a result can lead to legal liability. Every company implementing a document management system must take steps to educate staff in document creation to ensure usage and compliance, in order to provide a proven trail.

Get Staff Buy-In
Getting staff to buy into using the document management system does not begin and end with writing a policy and sending out a memo. It starts before the system is even implemented—get key staff members from each stakeholder area involved in the design process. The creation, routing, and approval of documents involve key processes that these people know best, and the document management system will impose some changes in those processes. There is bound to be resistance and possibly some resentment, especially if changes are made without their input. Seeking input from staff members ultimately serves two purposes: (1) it lessens the likelihood of resistance and resentment, while (2) allowing management to get valuable insight into the processes that they are going to change.

The process of seeking input from staff members involved in document creation will also help to improve business processes involved in content creation—these processes are seldom improved with top-down renovation alone. In addition, the gathering input will give management an opportunity to find out what key objections are likely to occur before they become a problem.

Get Executive Support
Adoption of the document management system will never get off the ground if it doesn’t have executive support. Early on in the initial stages, possibly before purchase, enlist the support of a key executive who understands the advantages of the system, and champion it not only to his staff members, but also to other members of the executive staff. Executive buy-in will be essential in many ways. Not only will this encourage buy-in, but it will also encourage a smoother implementation by having executive support for gathering inter-departmental information. The executive should be able to lead a multi-departmental committee, which will be charged with gathering all of the appropriate information from each department or business unit.

Having a committee made up of all stakeholder business units will serve the purpose of making sure the needs of each department is considered in the implementation—which will also lessen the likelihood that the system will be ignored.

Be Aware of Reasons for Non-Use
Large corporations are inclined to data hoarding and stovepiped information. Information is the currency of business, and gone unchecked, a corporation will develop individual fiefdoms that are protective of their own information within their realm. While it is true that access must be regulated based on need, actual need is seldom based on artificial departmental boundaries, and efficiencies can only be achieved by providing access across the entire company, to those who have a legitimate need.

This requires building a new culture of knowledge sharing to overcome those instances of data hoarding.

Other reasons for non-use may be resistance to changes in business processes, perceived inefficiencies, or the simple occurrence of the “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome. All can be easily overcome, but must be overcome for the document management system to be a success.