In an old paper based world, notification of new information meant extra copies of the document were placed on the desks of teammates. Otherwise, it required a hunch and a trip to the file cabinet or the random perusing of co-worker’s desks. In fact, it was probably not known that something new was available until it was a surprise – learned from a customer or worse yet, from the boss who somehow knew the facts.
Today, documents are digital and some might think that has solved all the problems. Not exactly, not even close. The only problem that has been solved is now there are less paper copies distributed. Information, including documents, can still go undetected and unknown. Surprises still happen and decisions based on incomplete information are still made, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Some great places for information to hide include the email inbox, local computer drives and even shared network drives. None of these typical information stores will alert other vested interests that a new document or new information is available. The cloud based folder sharing applications will alert users that a new document has arrived. But there is no meaningful information about the file or what to do with it.
In order to get information to the right users at the right time, a document management system or workflow is needed. Taking it one step further, what is really needed is the “right” information to get to the Right users at the Right time. There is a solution. Document management systems can be configured to send out notifications based on user defined criteria, typically called Subscriptions or Notifications.
Notifications via email and a link on the application home page will help ensure that users are aware of critical new information, who it came from, when it was uploaded and what it pertains to. Smart companies are using workflow to make sure that the information gets to the user with instructions on the next steps based on the information. If it is an invoice, review the transaction. If it is a contract, review the terms. If it is a marketing piece, review the content.
Having all the information in electronic format is one thing and that does have some benefits over the old paper based methods. But it just isn’t enough. Take full advantage of the technology and use a document management system or workflow to manage the information. Put the information in the hands of the right users and the right time and watch how much better the organization runs. Nobody wants that sinking feeling or its consequences.