One of the biggest reasons your company may need document management software: easy retrieval and sharing of information. Even with an electronic document system, it is easy for a large enterprise to create an environment of stovepiped information, where every department or business unit documents stored in proprietary systems that are unavailable to the rest of the enterprise. This document management model is certainly the most popular, but it is wasteful and inefficient. Luckily, businesses can implement document management software to overcome this limitation.
The Document Lifecycle
Documents have a lifecycle, and document management software controls this cycle and ensures that each document is in its most appropriate location for each phase. The document lifecycle starts with creation, and document management software typically includes functions that help a document take form—even better, features like collaboration and revisioning allow multiple stakeholders to contribute on a regulated basis. Once the document has reached its final stage of creation, the document management system’s workflow/approval process facilitates routing the document through the organization, and to allow each manager to sign off on it.
The next step in the document lifecycle: publishing. This may take the form of publishing on a company’s intranet, on a dynamic web site, or even in a public document management repository like Google Docs (which in itself offers many convenient document management tools).
The lifecycle of an enterprise document is usually regulated by a retention policy, and these guidelines are typically directed by government regulation or counsel from the legal department. All documents must adhere to the same retention policy, and there audit records must be maintained. Very often, after a document is no longer useful, it’s moved to an archive, deleted, or destroyed—a document management system ensures that such documents are in compliance with the retention policy when archived or disposed.
Usage of Documents
The goal of document management software is to allow all stakeholders to easily locate and access all pertinent documents. Ensuring easy access, document management software allows each document creator to assign metadata to that document, including information about who created it, the subject, main keywords, department, date of creation, date of authorized disposal, and authorization for access and editing.
Searchability is document management technology’s crowning achievement, and it affords all users a common interface from which they can search using keyword or keyphrase, or by searching by role, category, or department. Tired of performing countless searches on your desktop files to locate one measly document? Let document management software help you!
Document Management Process
Document management starts with a piece of software, but ultimately, it’s a process. The first step in the document management process: identifying key roles, like who has editing capabilities for and/or access to which types of documents. Given the importance of key-role identification, before deploying document management software it’s imperative to analyze document usage throughout the company in order to determine how the software will be deployed and used. The next step is to consider the document location and the lifecycle of the documents planned, as well as potential storage and archiving issues. From there you can cement your document management policy, formalizing protocol for issues relating to content control, authorization, and the planned workflow for each document.
Why You Need Document Management
All businesses rely on documents, and the modern business relies heavily on documents in digital form. The dawn of the digital age and its “paperless office” has actually allowed businesses to create more documents overall, leading to an explosion of digital corporate knowledge. But it’s important to remember that these documents and data are useless if they cannot be easily found and accessed by all parties involved. Document management software is a boon for any business that relies upon documented information—which is pretty much every business. Fortunately, document management software is available for businesses of all sizes—big or small, there is a document management solution suited to your business’s needs.