With the increased use of electronic documents, businesses must find advanced ways to manage documents. A sure sign of efficiency is working with a mixture of paper documents and electronic files without leaving your workflow in disarray.
But what happens when you have to sort through thousands of loosely related files? How do you automate functions like document search or file conversion?
Owning a PDF editor can save you the pressure of combing through cluttered cabinets. This document management solution presents a better approach to managing files in today’s world.
What is Document Management?
Document management is the storing, managing, and tracking of electronic documents using a computer system. This system is called a document control management system (DMS), and it’s a vital aspect of any organization.
DMS also simplifies storing and locating files and folders in a central location by creating better access and control while aiding the streamlined search. That’s why many companies adopt a document management process to ease operations.
10 Document Management Tips
You need a document automation strategy that guarantees document security, audit trails, and centralized storage. Here are proven tips to enhance your document management practices.
Identify document types
Classify documents based on their file formats, function, or status. When you store related documents together, locating them during a search requires less effort. For instance, you can save all PDFs, spreadsheets, or digital images according to their file formats.
Another way to store related document types is to save files for a specific project in the same folder. Using an online document management system for storing documents makes this search even faster. This way, you’ll have little trouble finding documents related to a particular topic.
Create a document management system
Building an efficient document workflow involves a solid document management system. This is a central repository where you store all essential documents in master folders and subfolders.
Also, a document management system helps you decide whether to save documents on the cloud or a single computer. It’s risky to keep similar documents in multiple locations.
For minimum risk, you should always choose a document management tool as the single location for files. You can then transfer and sort the most recent versions of your files within that system.
Digitize your files
Digitizing your files is essential when you have little space for keeping paper-based files or need to share print documents electronically. It also ensures that you have copies of all documents handy regardless of your location.
When dealing with confidential documents, it’s professional to keep electronic copies. Depending on the nature of the business, it’s easier to sign PDFs electronically instead of waiting to scan and print paper files. With document control software, you can convert even wrinkled paper documents into digital ones.
Back up documents
Now that you have a document management framework, you need to back up your files regularly. Remember that digital copies can be erroneously deleted, so you need a contingency.
A secure backup may make lost data easier to retrieve on your computer or the cloud. Fortunately, most document workflow solutions offer cloud storage options, which are more dependable than computer hard drives.
Use file-naming conversions
Appropriate naming conversions help to find both paper and electronic documents quickly. It eliminates confusion when collaborating with others on a single document.
While there are many ways to name your documents, you need to create a standard naming convention that reflects the contents. In large organizations, you should also separate related files into folders according to departments.
All staff within your firm should also conform to the naming system. For instance, a sales data document curated in the year 2023 by salesperson Adams could be named “2023-Adams-SalesData.doc”. This system will make it easier to track files.
You can accelerate file retrieval by ensuring that all your files are unique. Deleting duplicate files will reduce clutter and enlarge your storage space.
Usually, document workflow automation searches your folders and suggests file duplicates for removal. Using the shortcuts or search function, you can find files faster with your document control software.
Establish folder hierarchy
Setting up a folder hierarchy will prove valuable when you have thousands of related documents under a single folder. You can now navigate the folders within a subfolder to find the necessary information.
Every master folder should consist of subfolders of similar documents. You want to categorize your files by assigning each category to a subfolder. Then, related categories fall under the same master folder.
For example, a legal department may create subfolders for different cases – criminal, divorce, business, pro bono, etc. You can even create additional folders within these subfolders based on the cases’ priority or progress.
Implement security measures
You can only run a modern-day organization effectively by securing your files. So, choose a file management system that offers encryption through passwords, keys, or restricted access.
If you want to share business documents with a specific individual within a team, you can give them access and restrict others from making any changes. Also, securing your files makes it easy to provide authentication features, like digital signatures, without printing anything.
Adding watermarks on PDFs is also another to ensure no one uses your work without permission. Other security controls include printing or copying restrictions.
Separate ongoing work from completed tasks
Classifying tasks in order of progress is another way to keep your files organized. You can save all current projects on your work computer until completion. Once the project is finished, you can transfer it into the file category on your DMS.
Make a habit of moving completed tasks into the folders where other related work is stored. This way, you don’t need a fire brigade approach when sorting your files.
Keep only relevant documents
Not every document that comes your way is essential to you. When you receive a file, take a few seconds to skim its content and decide if it’s worth saving.
You should only retain files in your document management system that are relevant to the job. Otherwise, you will breed clutter and create confusion within the DMS.
If you must save less important files, add them to a separate folder that is not used frequently.
To enjoy working with files, managing documents must also be convenient. This satisfaction largely depends on your choice of document management software and how you organize files.
Keep a consistent file naming system, back up documents often, and encrypt your business files. By digitizing your paper-based files, you reduce physical clutter and preserve information more securely.
Start by securing a file management system for your business. It gives you greater control, access, and efficiency in operations.