Even an individual professional needs to organise their documents for quick reference. Contracts proposed or signed, key correspondence, quotes or bids, emails, texts etc., all need to be organised for quick and easy reference. When your customer calls, you should have access to all your previous interactions with that client.
As your company grows and becomes larger and more successful, this task will get more complex. Documents are one of the key assets of your company, and like any other asset, you want to ensure they are organised and protected.
Set standards for document origination. Ensure that everyone uses the same tools to originate their documents. This is so basic, that it can be easily overlooked. Make sure you and your staff all use the same word processor, spreadsheet, email programs, etc.
Set rules for how to name documents and where to store them. Can you imagine a company where everyone has their own idea about what to call their documents, and where to keep them? Even in a company as small as 2 people, if they have different ideas about how to name and where to store their documents, it will create chaos and confusion, waste time and be inefficient.
Document Storage and Retrieval
The first form of document storage was the file cabinet. Paper files kept things nice, tidy and organised. This is how many small organisations still work today. Since the advent of computers and the internet, it is more common to keep your files on a hard drive, server, or somewhere in the cloud.
Cloud storage has become popular in recent years. It has several advantages such as accessibility and disaster recovery. In a far-flung enterprise, storing documents in the cloud allows for rapid access by staff working in remote offices.
Despite living in the digital age your company is still going to have to deal with paper documents and correspondence. Do you scan them into your online system, or keep them in paper files? Most larger organisations opt to scan them, archive the original paper documents for a time, and then dispose of them when they are no longer needed. Document disposal or document shredding becomes an important part of your document management strategy.
Securing your documents is an essential part of any document management strategy. Not all documents are equal. Some documents you want broad issue and publication, such as marketing or sales material. Other documents are highly confidential and serious damage to your organization could ensue if they were released. Customer lists, contract details, proprietary technology and the like should be safeguarded.
Some of the techniques employed in document security are encryption, access rights or permissions, defined access controls, document audit trails and metadata-based document security. Needless to say, the larger your company becomes the more document security becomes.
Your document management needs will grow as your company grows. Keep in mind that good document management is important, no matter the size of your company. If you start with good practices when you are small or just starting, it will make it easier to grow and make the conversion to an automated document management strategy easier and more efficient.