When two people seem very happy together, it’s “a match made in heaven.” When something just works exactly as you expect it to, you will hear someone say “bingo” or “the stars aligned.” More recent versions of this would include “life is good.” They are all just sayings that express the fact that something went right.
We won’t provide examples of common sayings when things go wrong. That could be humorous, or it might offend some people. Your employees should have “life is good” moments daily to the point where its just the way it is. They should quickly find a document that someone requested at the very end of the day. They should pull a collection of documents together that support an important compliance report in minutes not hours or days. How do you get there?
We have stated it many times before that we are not fans of folder based, free form document or content management systems. The flexibility of allowing users to create their own filing structures and folder naming is great for being flexible. But the lack of consistency confuses all other users and will prove to be a detriment to your compliance efforts. And this only gets worse over time as the quantity of folders and files multiplies.
What works is using meta data to define your documents. And that meta data should originate from controlled sources that are maintained by an administrator or that tie to a source business application. Some good examples of source business application meta data include lists of customers from your ERP, lists of properties from your accounting system or lists of employees from your HR system.
Every new document that enters your domain should be matched with that critical meta data. You can and should force other classification rules as well such as requiring an actual document title and document date. Don’t allow the auto-numbered digital copier file name to be your final description of the document – COPIERA543TTHF000457.pdf. That isn’t going to make anyone say Bingo!
Force the meta data associations via your document upload process and or require that information association during the document processing workflow, pre or post document signing. For instance, in a pre-signing document creation workflow, make the meta data required to send the document out for signature. In a post-signing workflow, enforce that meta data association as part of the collection, routing (notification) and archiving process.
When you are consistently applying the meta data and that meta data has come from your source business applications, you will have immediate “life is good” moments among your employees. They will have confidence that all documents for the employee where found. They will know that all approvals were obtained for the recent acquisition. They will get home to their “match made in heaven” in time for dinner.