The best way to avoid common document management software blunders is to:
1. Buy the right software to begin with. It is important to buy software that gives you the functionality you need for your specific and unique business. It should be capable of handling various document types, work with the server and hardware you have, provide the access you need, etc. Take time to understand the available options, and choose the ones best suited to your company’s needs.
2. Plan. Plan out your requirements and organization. How will you organize information between departments? How will you handle security? How will you handle personal documents? What kind of expectations will you have for end users? How will you train people for your system? What do you do with “work-in-progress” documents? Carefully consider and plan your strategy.
3. Set expectations. Part of document management software requires involving the end users. Make sure expectations are clear. In order to properly implement a document management system, users have to conform to specific guidelines. If they don’t, it won’t be as effective. This may involve using templates, setting up a system for emails, faxes, saved web pages, other electronic documents, and the like.
4. Integrate. This is where you have to make sure your document management software can integrate with current systems, and that you can safely store old files and new files. Make sure it integrates with Microsoft, WordPerfect, etc. as well as with any specialized programs your business uses.
5. Train. Most document management systems are easy enough to use, so it is not so much a matter of teaching people how to use it as it is a matter of standardizing that use and making sure users are taking advantage of the program’s full capabilities. Create a procedure for naming and storing documents, and implement business-wide practices for use.
The following are some common document management software blunders, and what you can do to avoid them:
Blunder—Assuming your document files are backed up on a regular basis.
Solution—Archive documents automatically and securely by setting procedures and automating the system.
Blunder—Not saving revisions under new document names.
Solution—Choose a document system that automatically saves each version of your document for you, separate from the original so that this is not left to you, as human error is common, and it only takes one accidental keystroke to “save” instead of “save as.”
Blunder—Using a shared hard drive to store your documents and files.
Solution—Set up access controls by department, category, and user role.
Blunder—Not using document templates.
Solution—Rather than end up with different styles, formats, and structures on documents, create standardized document templates. Choose a DMS that has already create templates that can be customized for your business.
Blunder—Distributing documents without protecting them.
Solution—Unprotected documents can be changed by employees or others. Choose a system that helps you maintain control by documenting changes, and keeps unauthorized changes under control.
It can be helpful to choose a program that distributes in “read only” .pdf versions.