If it’s a common refrain in your company that nobody can find anything on the file server or in the document management system, you are not alone. In many cases a company believes this is because they have a digital document organization problem or possibly the lack of a document czar.
Just because a company is not staffed entirely with former librarians doesn’t mean that a lack of organization is the only problem. There may be other factors at play, like for instance, rapid growth or a string of acquisitions. However, what’s really missing might be a document collection strategy.
Documents come into the organization in many ways – documents created internally, email, downloads, thumb drives and there is still paper. Your document management solution needs to have multiple ways to collect or ingest documents AND methods of efficiently corralling the documents so they can be consistently tagged before filing.
There are systems out there and in development that use artificial intelligence to auto tag documents, which makes it easy on the creator or recipient of the documents. This functionality seems to have limited suitability for many businesses given security and privacy risks. It may also fall short if users lose trust in the search results.
The collection strategy needs to identify how documents come into the organization and have a policy that dictates how each of the in-bound paths is managed. Shut off storage space on local computer drives. Email inbox rules for how long an email can remain in the inbox before it must be filed. A mail room that scans and delivers electronically with rules for documents requiring wet signatures.
Most importantly, ensure that all documents coming into the document management system have minimum required meta data associated before filing (“tagging”). The requirements are based on the type of document, ie. HR documents need to specify the employee, document date and document category (I-9, Benefits, etc.). It is optimal to use drop down lists where possible – use the list of employees or the list of customers via integration with line of business applications.
Make it as easy as possible for users to send documents into your document management solution and force a tagging process. Drag and drop, email in, scan directly in, batch uploads, save to, whatever you need to do to make it easy, make sure that method is available. You can also have some processes that use workflow to gather and publish documents into the system. Most importantly, make sure all of those methods force the tagging. Make the system be the czar.