Our Top Tips for Smart Document Management
Some of these points may seem obvious, but almost every day we come across organisations who perhaps pay far too little attention to the means by which information, critical to running the business is managed.
Before we begin our guide, ask yourself the simple question “How much time do we spend searching for files”
The chances are, given the amount of data we both generate and receive, the answer is far too much.
Most of what we do in our day to day lives gets stored somewhere from documents to emails, proposals, invoices and reports ………but where and what was it called?
From our experience of working with hundreds of businesses both large and small we have put together the following guide to ensure you become more efficient and ultimately profitable.
1. Create a Clear Folder Structure
This sounds so obvious, but get it wrong and potentially you will never locate that important file.
As how we title information is often variable, driven by time and mood, having a structured filing system is crucial.
Invest some time in ensuring your filing structure is logical, caters for all of your document types and can be easily referenced. This may involve both folders and sub folders.
We recommend you start with the main folder structure and from these it is easier to create your necessary sub folders in each instance to cater for every aspect of your working processes.
2. Integrate Cloud Storage into Your Daily Work Patterns
It wasn’t so long ago that most organisations steered away from Cloud based solutions, somehow feeling that such technology left them exposed both from a security and guaranteed access perspective.
Wind forward a few years and now increasingly most of what we do both privately and in business is Cloud based.
Despite the huge benefits of access from anywhere Cloud computing, it is inevitably not without its pitfalls if not used intelligently and can become a dumping ground like any other storage facility.
To avoid this:
- Integrate your Cloud storage with other applications in use
- Allow mobile apps to upload directly to the Cloud
- Use dedicated platforms for each departmental function
- Maintain a strict cleanse and delete facility to prevent the build-up of junk
3. Organise Email Attachments and Documents
Email, the one thing that increasingly dominates all of our lives. Anyone who has the temerity to take a break from the office will dread the colossal number of emails they are likely to return to. Some will be relevant, others not so, some will contain important information and attachments and whilst others won’t, they all however require time consuming attention.
If we accept that email contains a huge amount of what we do, it is critical that this aspect of our working lives is managed well. Sending and receiving email is the easy part, retrieving and referencing the information they contain not so.
Email can of course be simply managed within platforms like outlook however this requires significant discipline and can it itself be time consuming and if not maintained provide little benefit.
Another solution may be the adoption of a document management system. This will allow all email traffic, if desired, to be stored (with or without attachments) and that information be subsequently referenced via its content as opposed to necessarily what it is called.
4. Always Try to use a Standard Naming Convention
Again, this would seem very obvious but is too often not put into practise.
Always try to use file naming conventions which are both consistent, relevant and logical.
It is important to ensure that all file names you use make sense, not just to you but to others, consider making these mandatory to maintain consistency.
Typically, this might include the following:
- Decide upon file naming format for example by date or name
- Use a numbering scheme
- Avoid anything unusual, you won’t remember this later
- Make the latest versions of your files stand out
5. Separate Your Files by Format
Despite your best efforts, it is almost inevitable you will forget the name of filles you have either created or received.
To alleviate this, organise your filing within folders and sub folders. This will allow you to instantly narrow down your search leading to a far more accurate and speedy retrieval.
6. Cleanse your Database Files Regularly
As your database of filing grows it is very easy to allow it to clatter out of control. As new files are added many previous ones may become outdated and without proper control can soon cause chaos. Try to be disciplined and set aside time at regular intervals to systematically review and cleanse your folders and sub folders. Older and obsolete files may be archived or deleted to ensure you are always looking at the most up to date and pertinent information.
We at BPMS hope this guide to managing your data both tidyly and efficiently has been helpful, naturally we are at hand to offer you our support by way of a free consultation.