For businesses of all sizes, secure document management should be a top priority. Larger businesses often put more emphasis on their document management technology, systems, and security but smaller businesses tend to be a bit behind.
Along with having the secure ways to store and share documents, small businesses also need to think about their document management processes and how they can ensure they’re efficient and effective.
Why is document management so important for any business?
Document management should be a process that helps your business stay organized and on track to meet objectives and goals. Documents need to be stored in a way that’s safe, but also accessible when employees need them. Document management is important from an internal standpoint, as well as externally.
For employees to perform at a peak level of productivity, they have to feel like the documents they need are available when they need them. If employees don’t know what document management system their employer uses, or there isn’t one, it can create significant bottlenecks and diminish productivity.
It also ensures that your company and also customer information remain private and secure.
The following are some tips small businesses can keep in mind when it comes to document management.
Create a System
For many small businesses, one of the primary challenges of document management is how to combine digital documents with hard copy documents. Most small businesses have a mix of both.
The best way to do this is to start by outlining a specific system for managing documents. You should create a plan, develop steps and guidelines as to how that plan will be implemented and then ensure ongoing follow-through.
As you’re creating a specific system, think about the different types of documents that might be part of your small business. Examples of documents that may be part of your small business include:
- Sales brochures
- Balance sheets
- Customer information
- Various templates for billing and correspondence
Once you have an idea as to how your document management process is going to work logistically, what about storage? Small businesses will have to think about the physical storage they’ll require and digital storage.
What are the costs of both? Would it be more cost-efficient to try and move essentially everything to digital storage?
If you are going to be focusing on making a move entirely away from paper documents, you’ll then have to integrate a complete digitization strategy into your document management strategy.
What will the processes be for scanning documents and putting them into a central storage repository? Are new records going to be scanned when they come in, or when they’re processed? Will each employee be responsible for dealing with their own documents or will one employee be in charge of processing and digitizing everything for consistency?
How frequently will records be digitized? For example, will it be done daily, weekly or monthly?
You might also decide that you’d like to outsource some of the document digitization processes so that you can send files out and receive the digital files back. Do you have the budget for this and will it be worth it in terms of ROI versus using an internal employee to do the work?
If your business does still require some filing of hard copy documents, how will this be done and how will the documents be accessed?
Along with the security considerations for both hard and digital documents, you have to think about how to handle backups in case of events not necessarily related to theft but instead situations like natural disasters or fires.
Finally, when you have in place a document management plan, and you’ve outlined how you’ll store documents and keep them secure, you have to think about rolling these plans out.
Your employees need to be well aware of the document storage process, and also trained on it.
You will have to outline who has access to what, and what types of access each person has. You’ll have to think about training employees on naming documents correctly, what to do about sending certain documents via email, and how permissions might change over time.
Also, what will happen if an employee leaves in terms of document security?
Something else to think about—how will employees access important documents when they’re not in the office? This is a big one for businesses right now because so many employees work remotely part of the time or even all of the time. How does that impact the implementation of your data storage and security plans?