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How to Create a Document Management Strategy

How to Create a Document Management Strategy

Document management strategies underpin and streamline the operations and goals of a business. Whether digital or paper-based, an effective document management strategy saves money, minimises legal threats, secures confidential information and establishes ordered access to data. It is a system that regulates how a company handles its documents.

Does your business need a document management strategy? Or, do you already have one but it has been on the back burner for far too long? Do you require a clear business strategy document template? This article takes you through the eight steps needed to answer these questions, and set up or refine your document management strategies.

1. Define your goals and team

Start by identifying the reasons and goals for your electronic document management strategy. These targets will inform the requirements for your plan and also shine a light on who is needed for the success of the operation.

Your project team depends on the nature of your business. Appointing a specific team officially structures the operation from the start. Individuals from all relevant departments must be in this team to establish effective communication and mediation.

2. Assess your current strategy or system

An in-depth assessment of your current document management strategy (or lack thereof) highlights gaps and requirements. Consider the goals you identified in Step 1 when evaluating your existing practices to pinpoint what negates or supports these targets. Then, decide if this project will be done internally or with the assistance of an expert document management company. 

Focus on practices that are counter-efficient and create hold-ups. The team should:

  • Evaluate existing electronic and paper-based systems.
  • Establish how your business receives, processes, reviews and updates, secures and disposes of information. A map plotting this route from start to finish visually represents these processes.

Examine ways that will rectify or streamline existing practices, such as the digital capturing of paper-based documents or installing specific software to manage electronic information.

3. Inventory your documents 

Compile an inventory of all the documents circulating through your business. It is vital to identify and categorise the different types of documents. This means that the document management strategy project team must go through all data generation and storage places.

Information categories will include things such as records, reference data, duplicates, client or employee information, prescribed forms and personal documents. If needed, partner with information management specialists to compile an inventory of your documents.

4. Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) to follow

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are clear instructions that detail how a specific task should be performed. Include a business strategy document template and a document management strategy example in your SOPs as practical references. Effective SOPs must include directions on all phases of document management.

  • Generation: Is this an in-house centralised, departmental or outsourced function, and what security measures must be implemented to protect confidentiality and intellectual property?
  • Access and authorisation: Where can relevant people obtain documents or data? Does authorisation or other procedures apply?
  • Reviews and updates: How often must reviews take place? Who is authorised to make changes? How are changes communicated?
  • Distribution: Through which channels does information flow to reach all the relevant parties?

Disposal and destruction: You cannot dispose of personal or sensitive data through usual means. Include strict protocols in your SOPs to manage the disposal of these documents and team up with specialist shredding services to prevent security breaches.

5. Implement document management technology

In this digital age, companies rely on electronic systems to modernise, simplify and boost the efficiency of their document management strategies. To do this, you need document management software and services that meet your goals and support your business.

Shredall SDS Group offers web-based document management software that is secure and accessible from anywhere in the world. This top-shelf technology, which is hosted in a secure data centre, complies with EU data protection laws and streamlines your document management strategy.

6. Ensure that you are compliant 

Your document management strategy must be compliant with legal stipulations and your company’s in-house policies. Compliance is an important component in every step of this process, from the creation to the disposal of data.

It ensures that your practices are lawful and protects confidential information. Compliant document management strategies also minimise risks and safeguard you against legal claims.

7. Train your staff

An effective document management strategy does not mean much if your employees do not know how to implement it. After ironing out your strategy, train your workers on the proper document management practices.

Structure this training to cover everything from the newly developed SOPs to what works and what does not. Remember, if your document management strategy is decentralised or outsourced, your workers will need training on the departmental specifics and contact individuals to access information. Comprehensive training is the key to success.

8. Monitor and get feedback

Monitor your document management strategy to gauge its effectiveness. Establish open change communication channels to get feedback on efficacy and gaps.

Encourage employees to discuss things such as better time efficiency, easier access to documentation, and recommendations to streamline the process even more. Ensure that workers know who to provide feedback to.

Build your streamlined document management strategy with Shredall SDS Group  

Document management is a mammoth undertaking, even in small and medium-sized companies. Teaming up with information management specialists helps you create a successful strategy at the onset. 

Shredall SDS Group is a leading UK document management specialist. We will help you devise or renew your document management strategy from start to finish. Contact us today and set your document management on the right track.

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