Document Management Best Practices – Top Tips to get the most out of your new Electronic Document Management System
Investing in an Electronic Document Management System (eDMS) can be a real game-changer for your organisation but it’s important to make sure you get the maximum benefits from your new system. Take the time to fully think though every aspect of it in advance to make sure that it will deliver everything you need and more. When it comes to selecting and implementing an eDMS, a little forward planning goes a long way.
Document Management Best Practices Tip No.1
Look at what you’re doing now and identify opportunities for improvement
Start by having an in-depth look at how you currently manage documentation across every area of the business. Identify what’s working well and what you want to change or improve and make sure the new system will be able to deliver on these improvements.
Don’t just replicate paper processes
Electronic document management offers much more than you could ever do with paper processes so don’t just create workflows that replicate these but design better processes that will take full advantage of the new digital capabilities.
Document Management Best Practices Tip No.2
Make a document management plan
Ask yourself the following questions to asses your organisation’s document management needs:
- What kind of documents does your organisation use? Are they paper, electronic or both? How are these documents captured and entered into your system? (By email, manually entered, scanned, imported, etc.)
- Where are these documents stored? Where will electronic documents be hosted? (On premise or in the Cloud?) Will you replace any physical filing cabinets?
- How do you search for documents?
- How are they accessed by staff? Who has access? One department, multiple departments or the whole organisation? Are they based in one building or at multiple locations? Are there different levels of access depending on work role or document type?
- How can they be altered and how do you manage version control?
- Do you have any special company or industry-specific requirements? Are there any company or industry-specific workflows the new system needs to be able to accommodate? Does the provider have experience of working with other organisations in your industry and do they fully understand your requirements?
- How can you share these documents with third parties? (Suppliers, clients, customers etc.)
- Will the new system be able to integrate with your current back office applications?
- How do you manage, extract and remove personal data from your business to facilitate GPDR regulations?
- Will it be able to accommodate potential future requirements?
Document Management Best Practices Tip No.3
Outline your aims and goals for the new system
It’s impossible to measure success unless you’ve got a clear picture in advance of what success looks like for your organisation. What are your goals? What do you want the new system to achieve? Do you want it to save time, save money, make it easier to find documents, improve collaboration, increase productivity? Ensure ahead of time with your provider that these goals are achievable and agree on how you can measure them. This way both parties will be in agreement on the objectives and the achievements of the eDMS.
Decide which documents or processes can and should be automated
Automation is one of the key benefits of an eDMS. By automating processes that were previously done manually (like data entry and customer queries), you can save your organisation a huge amount of time. Prioritise tasks that currently take a lot of time and effort for employees or that require them to waste time searching for information.
Decide which historic paper-based documents you want to import into the new system
Some of these may need to be scanned into the system so make sure you allow enough time to facilitate this transition from paper to electronic documents.
Make the user interface clear and intuitive
Make sure that the new system will be easy for employees to use and navigate. Look at what documents specific departments need to access and limit it to these. Ensure that they can they access these documents from within the existing back office system without having to click out.
Set clear Access Rules
While it’s good to be able to share, everyone in an organisation doesn’t need and shouldn’t have access to everything. Setting clear access rights means that people only have access to the documents they need to do their jobs, which saves time sifting through unnecessary information and avoids confusion. It also helps to keep confidential information safe by only allowing access to those who need it. You can also limit functionality by role as some users will only need to view files, whereas others will require access to the full range of features provided.
One of the key benefits of an eDMS is collaboration so make sure you make the most of this. A new eDMS should make it easier for employees to share information, collaborate and work on documents together in real-time.
As documents are constantly being changed and updated, it’s essential to be able to keep track of these changes. Version Control enables you to view a complete history of each document and see who changed it and when. It also ensures that everyone is working with the most up-to-date version of the document at all times.
Maximise your security
Security is a key consideration for any eDMS, especially if your documents contain confidential client information. Make sure that the eDMS you’re planning to implement will keep your documents safe and ensure that you meet your GDPR requirements.
Document Management Best Practices Tip No.4
Staff preparation and training is key
Getting your team on board with the new eDMS system is essential for a successful implementation and communication is key. This is the ideal opportunity to implement a system that makes everyone’s work life easier so don’t waste it.
Involve staff at the planning stages
No-one knows and understands your current processes better than them so involve them in the early planning stages. Get their pain-points and their wishlists to realise the full potential of what can be achieved. Once they see that their opinions are listened to and valued and realise how much easier the system will make it to do their jobs, they will feel more invested in it from the outset.
Provide adequate staff training
Make sure to choose an eDMS partner who provides staff training/on-boarding on the new system and gives good on-going support. As you get more comfortable with the system create a company-specific user guide with tips and tricks and FAQs to help them troubleshoot common issues.
Appoint an internal “expert”
Appoint one internal “expert” on the new eDMS who will work closely with the provider and can assist others in the organisation during the implementation and help them to get up and running on the new system.
Want more Document Management Best Practices advice to get the most out of your new eDMS?
At EIS we’ve been helping our clients save time, money and a whole lot of hassle for over 20 years. We help clients across multiple industries to solve a variety of accounts payable and document management challenges and our strategic partnership approach enables us to provide solutions that evolve with their business.
If you’d like to find out more about planning for a new eDMS for your organisation, talk to one of our experts today.