7 best document management tips for businesses

By Michelle Desmarais
August 3, 2018
6 min read
best document management tips

How organized is your document management? Would it earn the Martha Stewart stamp of approval? Or does it resemble a storage locker that hasn’t been cleaned out in decades….

Most new customers of ours need to switch from a Shared Drive to Document Management software. I’ve seen everything from well-manicured, neat as a pin shared drive that’s only lacking external access, to a chaotic black hole of files in files in files. Most often I see numerous versions of the same file stored in multiple locations. This causes confusion for users to find the correct version.

Whatever the motivation is to seek a Document Management Software, it’s important to note that it’s not as simple as just hiring a cleaning service. No tool can fix all the shortcomings of your document management system for your organization. There needs to be some change in process and approach, and yes, everyone in the home has to chip in. But with these seven simple housekeeping tips for Document Management, your files will feel right at home.

7 Top Document Management Tips

1. Ownership of the Document Management Function

The most successful implementations require one thing, a great housekeeper. This champion is the primary driving force behind the change that the organization needs to succeed. They have identified the struggles that face your organization and have a plan to tackle them. They have done their research into the options available in the market, aligned the goals they wish to achieve with the software, and built a case to the leadership team.

During the process of acquiring new software or during post-purchase, you must review and catalog internal documents. It’s this point where most companies will either hit a snag in implementing their Intranet or will dedicate resources and be thankful they did.

2. Declutter and Restructure Documents

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from new customers is not knowing where information is, or which document to trust. Being disorganized makes the biggest impact on your customers. Document clutter includes having incorrect information, or outdated policies, and multiple copies of the same information.

Once you’ve culled all outdated or irrelevant content, the next step is to organize your documents in a way that makes them easy to find. This builds up the trust with your employees that they can find the information they’re looking for.

3. Provide One Source of Truth for Employees

Create one main document repository and link to it from the various team/department sites.

  • With all documents stored in one place, any change is reflected in all other repositories linking to the main one.
  • Have 1 person or a small team of content managers.
  • Workflow can be enabled on the folders where users that try to upload or edit documents are sent to the content owners for approval before the document is published, or the change is implemented.
  • Not all overlapping documents may be relevant to all teams/departments. This allows the document owners the flexibility of customizing what documents they need, but only managing the files directly in one location.
  • Team or Department specific documents – Each team/department has specific documents used by just them. Their documents are stored within their team/department site with either one primary content admin, or the team manages those documents.

4. Restrict Create/Edit Permissions of Users

It’s important to have governance in place to ensure the quality of content being published to your intranet, especially if you’ve already spent the effort of reviewing your current documents. This is especially true for Document Management which if not managed correctly, can get out of hand quickly. Consider implementing policy and guidelines for naming documents, folder structure, and permissions to enforce Document Management within your organization.

5. Migrate Documents to One System

The easiest way to get your documents on your new intranet is by bulk importing them into the software. However, you may be pulling over the same problems you’re currently dealing with. At this step, stop to consider the most effective method for users to find the content they need. Take this opportunity to do a little Spring cleaning. Upload the master copy to the location you’ve selected and then remove any unnecessary copies, excluding backups, so that all employees must access this master copy.

With IC Thrive’s Source Intranet, importing is fairly easy with the options of Multiple File Upload and CSV Import (to include metadata). If your current solution complaint is searchability, Import CSV would be the best method as the metadata can be included in search results as well as allowing the user to know they’ve found the right file before clicking on it. Clean-up of your current documents should be done prior to migrating over your files. If there’s limited time to review your documents, consider pulling over the key documents that are currently causing the most pain points for your staff and customers. If this is the method you choose, be sure to remove these documents from the previous location. You’ll also have to communicate the change to your staff so they know where to find these specific documents going forward.

6. Audit Documents Often to maintain Accuracy

Depending on the document, it’s important to review a document periodically to check for any quality issues or outdated policies. For example, any HR policies need to be reviewed. While changes should be managed directly, the review date can help ensure an update to policy doesn’t get overlooked.

Using Policy Assist tools to set Review dates, you can also enable email and/or site alert reminders to notify reviewers of when policies are coming up for review. These reviewers will need to be able to modify the document or policy in the document application.

 Tip: As you’re importing your documents, you can include a review date for the document or policy in your CSV file as part of the metadata that’ll be filled out as you import your policies.

7. Enforce Policies With All Users

This couldn’t be easier with the implementation of Read & Confirm for your policies. With policies, you can choose who needs to read and confirm the policy or choose the option of ‘Everyone’ to target all logins within the software.

For each policy, you can decide whether or not you want to enable Read & Confirm of that policy. The policy owner or admins will have optics into what policies users have or haven’t read.

policy review

In the example above, we can see only 15% of employees have read the Employee Handbook. By clicking into the % Complete for that policy, we can have a look at who hasn’t yet read and confirmed this policy:

Document Management

Unconfirmed shows under the Confirm Date column to indicate the employee has yet reviewed and confirmed the policy. The Supervisor or Manager (listed beside their name) can easily follow up with the employee.

Have you successfully migrated your documents over to create a source of truth? Or do you currently struggle with document management internally? The ICThrive Source intranet is an excellent resource for your business and employees. Contact us for a free demo today! Or take our assessment tool to see exactly where your internal comms strategy needs some TLC!

By Michelle Desmarais

Michelle Desmarais is a solutions expert at IC Thrive. With a background in quality assurance and product training, she is well-versed in making the technical sound easy. Working closely with clients on a daily basis to find solutions to their problems, she is the go-to person for practical advice on anything intranet and software-related.