The 5 Document Management Best Practices Every Business Needs to Know

As digitalization becomes the norm, it’s vital for businesses to update their document management best practices.

Every modern business produces documents, from small retail operations to global conglomerates. As the worldwide economy shifts towards digital models, these companies must update their document management systems so they can store, organize, and access files at any time. Easier said than done? Not if you adopt the right techniques and modify them to suit your business and industry. Here are five document management best practices every organization can benefit from.

Find the best document management solutions for your business with our guide, The complete guide to document management systems.

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5 document management best practices every business needs to know

Create a document management plan

Businesses tend to increase the volume of paperwork they produce as they grow over time. That’s why the best practices for document management always begin with standardization. With a structured plan, it’s far easier to navigate filing systems, locate specific documents, and train new staff on your system.

A standardized document management process can vary by organization and industry, but businesses can start by answering the following questions:

  • What specific documents will the organization work with?
  • Who will use each type of document? Will they collaborate on files?
  • Where are documents stored? When using cloud storage, are any specialized apps or platforms necessary to access them?
  • What is the lifecycle of a standard document?
  • At what point in the workflow should a document be deleted or archived?

This is also the ideal time to determine who is responsible for maintaining the overall document management process. These administrators should take the lead in assigning user permissions and creating associated training materials.

Choose the right document management system

On-site physical documentation requires storage space, drives up operational costs, and reduces employee productivity. By digitizing these resources, companies eliminate inefficiencies. And that’s before considering the benefits of a document management system, such as remote file collaboration, streamlined industry compliance, and more.

Document management software provides a central hub for implementing these features, but each platform has its own benefits and drawbacks. Find a solution that best supports your industry and includes the following features:

  • Document security capabilities, such as file encryption or user-sharing permissions.
  • An intuitive design that staff can grasp quickly, limiting the amount of time spent onboarding.
  • Cloud storage that lets team members access documents remotely and collaborate on files.
  • Version control capabilities that track changes within a document and let users restore previous versions when necessary.

Did You Know?:Good document management starts with proper digitization. Find out more in our dedicated guide, 6 Must-Have Features for Document Digitization Software and Systems.

Be consistent with categorization

Categorization is vital to document management, whether you’re managing a small filing cabinet or an enormous cloud server. Categories provide the organizational structure that makes it possible to find the correct document and related files associated with a project. Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to categorize documents, but applying a consistent model is essential so that anyone can find the correct file as long as they’re familiar with the process.

For most organizations, the simplest option is to standardize folder and document naming conventions. These are usually best grouped as high-level topics that narrow to specific projects. For example, a grouping named “Client Documents” might include folders for each client and additional sub-folders on outstanding projects.

Some document management systems go a step further by offering built-in categorization tools. One example is M-Files, which automatically processes documents then sorts them based on metadata. These tools may require additional training but can be helpful when managing a large volume of files.

Prioritize remote access

Just because workforces now spend less time in a physical office doesn’t mean they’re working with fewer documents. On the contrary, many employees access documents remotely, whether working from home or checking on projects while traveling. Furthermore, the frequent need to collaborate on remote files makes relying on asynchronous methods such as emailing attachments back and forth especially onerous.

The good news is that cloud services make it far easier to access and collaborate on documents from any location. In addition, document management systems with cloud support usually offer editing or commenting capabilities. Businesses should also be on the lookout for smartphone support that lets staff review, edit, or sign documents, ideally with an app that can manage permissions securely.

Did You Know?:PaperStream NX Manager seamlessly integrates your on-premises digitization solutions with both local and cloud storage.

Audit your document management practices

Few people will likely get their document management system perfect on the first try. Everything from new software to new regulations can compel an organization to alter its procedures overtime. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly self-audit your document management system and ensure it serves the organization as intended.

Each organization will have different standards for auditing and improving their documents — with some mandated by law and others simply best practices. In any case, managers should review the document management plan and determine whether the current system behaves as intended or needs to be overhauled, especially following any organizational change.

How our fi and SP Series scanners and digitization tools can help

Most modern businesses operate within a hybrid model using some combination of physical documents and electronic communications. In these cases, document digitization is an ideal way to improve efficiency and align with the aforementioned best practices. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our professional grade fi and SP Series scanners.

Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, fi and SP Series scanners are capable of processing tens-of-thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. Their intuitive integration capabilities with all existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.