Here are some tips for getting your company or personal electronic files and documents better organized in 2019. These tips will really make life easier if you are currently storing your company files and documents on a network drive or you use a document management system but never really configured it for your business.
- If you have a document management system, don’t let files and documents get uploaded without a minimum amount of meta data (descriptions) being associated with each file. This goes for folder based systems as well where users just drop files into the folders. For instance, have all client folders auto-generated based on a list from your accounting system or all prospect folders auto-generated from your CRM. Don’t let users create their own hierarchy or folder structure – take control of it and tie it to your core business lists. Use drop down lists instead of allowing free form entry and always make some fields “required” on upload.
- Implement workflows for all processes that currently use paper or email for routing and approving documents, especially where decisions are supported by one or more documents. Use your document management system, CRM or any other solution, just stop using email and file folders.
- Less options for searching and adding documents is usually better than more. Try to limit search options to five or six data points. This generally provides users with a small enough set of results that they can quickly and efficiently determine which document they need. Don’t try to give them every possible search field with a goal to get a single document in the search results. That will slow down the process as the users get zero hits time after time. Try providing just enough search fields that they get 10-15 items in the results, an easy number of items to quickly scan for the right one.
- It’s helpful to include both common names and account numbers or ID’s in all naming conventions for files and folders. Some users gravitate to numbers or ID’s and some will function best based on common names like a building name, client name or product name. Either way, grouping and sorting will be aided by having both available and this ties in with number 1 above. Data needs to be consistently applied.
- Implement a true document management system and wherever possible integrate other applications with it so that it becomes the document warehouse. Other applications can feed documents into it and pull documents from it via an integrated application interface. Implement a web based document management system. In today’s world, companies are utilizing more third party services that are an extension of the business and therefore, need to share information and be part of workflows. This is best accomplished by a web based solution that lets users in from outside the firewall.
These are Millennia Group’s top five tips. We could go on for many more items with other suggestions, but these are high level and will generate positive results. Of course, with any changes, there will be resistance and learning curves to address. Get prepared before making recommendations. Have specific examples of current frustrations and new solutions and benefits. Repeat the benefits 10 times – that always helps. Then, get it done and enjoy the improved access to information, increased efficiency and happy users.
Millennia Group is a workflow and document management solutions provider with over 20 years of experience. For more information visit www.mgdocs.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org