In many companies, every employee will play, at the least, a small part in the document management system. Document management operates at a great variety of different levels. Most obviously, it includes filing correspondence, policies and contract documents, and managing these records’ lifespan and organisational system.
But document management can also include the organisation of your email correspondence, the maintenance of notes taken from meetings, or taking a note of a potentially important (for your business) phone call.
Any article of writing is a records. Though not all of these records will, at first glance, seem to be important enough for keeping, they might prove to be. In business, you never know what notation or piece of documentation will be important for your company.
Document management can involve simple tasks like filing what might be necessary and destroying notes that are definitely no longer needed. But document management can also be a very strategic enterprise.
How, and why it is necessary, to get strategic with your company’s document management
According to the United Kingdom’s national archives – a body that should know a thing or two about record keeping –, document management is “about controlling records within a comprehensive regime made up of policies, procedures, systems, processes and behaviours.”
At a personal level, as has been briefly discussed above, every employee is expected to manage the records that they encounter while doing company activities.
But, of course, the company itself must play a part in defining these practices and that is where document management becomes a part of company strategy.
Company executives will have to consider a variety of factors when they create their documents management strategy. They will have to decide which documents must be kept, for how long these documents need be managed, whether a timely destruction of these documents is appropriate and what method of destruction is best.
The company executive in charge of document management will need to make a decision that considers on the relative importance of several factors. They will have to decide on the value of the space used up in the storage of these records. They will have to consider the sensitivity of the records they store and how it impacts the level of security they must consider.
These factors are some of the reasons companies in certain areas of industry will tend to opt for a third-party document management company in the handling of their files. The insurance and banking industries, for example, produces a huge amount of records. These documents are often very sensitive, numerous and also need to be stored for a long time.
(We have written a full-length article on records management in the insurance industry. If you want to read that, you can access it here.)
As a result, insurance company executives tend to entrust their records to third-party managers. They understand that the need for security – caused by the sensitivity of their records – combined with the fact that the numerous records take up a lot of space, mean it can often be more cost-effective to outsource.
Another factor that should be considered when a company is creating its document management system is whether new technology will be needed. Effective document storage can be hugely impacted by the help of technology systems.
In some cases, where a lot of records are produced, IT equipment may be absolutely necessary in order to ensure that certain documents are not lost and can be found quickly. These technology systems can be expensive and this needs to be considered by the person making decisions within the company.
In conjunction with technology, training may be necessary in order that the best is made of this new purchase. Training may also be necessary if technology is not purchased. Depending on a company’s area of expertise and the type and nature of its workforce, training may be needed to ensure that certain records are managed and kept in an appropriate manner.
The last factor that needs to be considered when creating a document management system is the records end-of-life process. Some records that need destruction may be sensitive – that might be the reason they are being destroyed in the first place. If that is the case, then monitoring checks will need to be put into place to ensure that this is done by the appropriate people and at the appropriate time.
Indeed, if documents are sensitive, then monitoring checks must be implemented across the entire life-span of the documents being managed.
If you want to read more about how space can be managed effectively within a company, then read this article. It is the first in a series of pieces we wrote on space management and how it is impacted by document storage.