18th March 2016

Common document management problems (and how to avoid them)

Every day, your business might create and access hundreds of documents in dozens of different formats. From paper-based documents to PDFs, we’re accustomed to managing many types of ‘paperwork’ on a daily basis – but inevitably, mix-ups occur.

Common document management problems (and how to avoid them)

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Document management can refer to software designed for storing and accessing documents, or as a wider term that covers the management of paper documents, too. Document management is meant to ensure the smooth running of your business, reducing the time spent searching for (and filing) paperwork and freeing up time for more important tasks. However, no document management system is perfect. These common document management problems are likely to be familiar to anyone who’s worked in an office environment – but what can you do to avoid them?

Lost documents

7.5% of all business documents are lost – and never found. The time spent searching for, then replacing a lost document is significant. Think of how much more productively that time could have been used if the document was located quickly.

Reducing the percentage of lost paper documents should be done through improved staff training and more stringent processes. Perhaps limit the number of people who have access to files, and make it a company rule to refile documents at the end of each working day so that no documents end up buried on employee desks.

Electronic documents can also be ‘lost’ if they aren’t located in the correct folder. In these situations, a well-formatted title and the use of tags means that a quick search query should locate the missing file swiftly. Again, the key here is to ensure staff know how your file hierarchy works and how to format titles so that they’re easily searchable.

Fragmented systems

One department uses one file structure. Another uses specialist software to manage documents. Yet another files some documents in cabinets and others in cyberspace. Each of these systems makes perfect sense to regular users, but when someone switches departments or needs to recover a document as a one off, there will certainly be a problem. Taking a unified approach to document management across your whole business (including across multiple sites) prevents this confusion from occurring – and, if you decide to opt for a cloud-based solution, staff will be able to access the documents from all locations, too.

User errors

You can’t eliminate all human error from your document management system. Even if you try to automate as many processes as you can, some users will make mistakes, mislabel documents or fail to understand the system fully. Training is the best solution here, but don’t limit it to new hires – give staff a refresher course or reminder email every 9-12 months or so if you find that the system isn’t being used correctly. If your staff continue to struggle, the software may be the problem. Speak to your account manager for solutions or, if necessary, look for alternatives that have a user-friendly interface.

Integrity Software have introduced additional functionality to their accounting software to enable you to improve your document management.  Watch a recent webinar on storing, accessing and sharing key documentation in our Evolution M software or speak to one of the team for more information today.

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