23rd December 2015

How to: improve document management in your accounts department

How many documents relate to a single contract in your construction business? Once you’ve taken into account subcontractor admin, purchase orders, photos, plans and invoices, you may approach three figures. 

How to: improve document management in your accounts department

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For larger, multisite construction companies, document management becomes even more complex, but no less critical. Every business should endeavour to improve document management in their accounts department, as the potential efficiency savings are significant – even for small businesses. Here are some steps to get you started.

Revisit your folder structure

If you use accounting software with a document management module, there’s no reason to stick to the default folder structure it provides. You can and should customise your folder hierarchies to meet the needs of your business. Try to avoid increasing the number of ‘layers’ in your folder structure, as each layer introduces complexity and can lead to confusion. Ensure that it’s clear where each document should be located so it’s straightforward to locate each file later.

Collect documents from all sources

Another way to significantly improve document management efficiency is to ensure that all relevant documents are stored centrally, so they can be accessed from any site and are automatically backed-up at regular intervals. Explore the options that your accounting software gives you to import images and files. For example, Evolution M lets you link documents to purchase orders directly, or you can drag and drop files into the system, or you can navigate to another folder on the hard drive (such as your downloads folder) to import PDFs and other file types. You should also be able to save report spreadsheets into the same, central location.

Titles and descriptions

There’s little point saving hundreds of files in your document management system every week if you save each of them with a generic title and no description. Ensure you use detailed titles for each document - you may wish to include a date in each title as well as clearly stating the document’s contents. Use the ‘notes’ or ‘description’ section to add context or further details where needed.

Security and deletion

Make use of the security and access options that your document management software provides. You wouldn’t want your intern to be able to edit important tax documents or a new recruit to gain immediate access to your company’s accounts information. Different software packages use different approaches. Some may use password protection and others will allow administrators to set permissions per user. Evolution M lets admins set the access level for each user in the form of a number (from 0-90). Managers can then choose the ‘minimum user status’ of a file or folder, making it invisible to users whose access level is lower than the minimum.  

You may also wish to give certain documents a ‘deletion date’. Although digital storage isn’t expensive, in the interest of keeping your file system tidy certain data can be erased when it’s no longer needed (and your company is no longer liable for the project it relates to).

Overall, today’s document management isn’t about optimising space in filing cabinets or sorting through reams of paper – instead, 21st century document management is all about centralising documents and ensuring they’re aligned to the right digital location. However, the same thorough, methodical approach is required for document management to be effective in the digital age.

For more tips on how to improve document management using Evolution M, contact your account manager.

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