Digital technology has enabled us to have access to vast ranges of internal information at our finger tips, but like physical documents, it’s more than possible to manage our digital documentation in less efficient and secure ways!
Anyone who has browsed for a lost file knows this pain, but more broadly, document management has considerable effects on a business’s efficiency and its ability to deliver the best service to its customers. But, with the right tools it’s possible to use IT solutions to streamline document management and boost productivity across the board.
In this blog, we introduce you to some of these solutions and the benefits they can offer to your business.
Why Is Managing Documents Important?
Effective document management is crucial for any business, especially in sectors that handle large volumes of data and intricate project details.
Streamlining document management can offer a range of benefits, including:
- Improvements In Efficiency: Quick access to documents reduces time that is lost to searching for information.
- Better Collaboration: Easier sharing of documents and working on them together in real time fosters good teamwork, time savings, and avoids misalignments arising from things like having multiple versions of the same document in different places and in the hands of different people.
- Increased Security: Secure document management protects sensitive information from unauthorised access.
- Empowered Compliance and Record-keeping: Proper document management complements compliance with regulatory requirements and can help you to maintain consistently accurate records.
So how do businesses lose their way and encounter challenges with their document management?
Common Business Document Management Challenges
As a business grows and expands, so too does the information it is working with and the operational complexity involved in its core activities.
For a range of reasons, a business may be stuck with legacy technologies or have disorganised data lying around its file storage tools like weeds in a garden. There may be files that are siloed away on different channels and devices.
The solution is to find ways to standardise the storing, processing, sharing, accessing, and collaboration activities involving your documents, which will help you to streamline, organise, and secure your files.
Some challenges that businesses gradually develop that can get in the way of streamlined document management include:
- Large Volumes of Data: As businesses grow, the sheer volume of documents can become overwhelming and hard to efficiently search through; it can feel like there’s not enough time to organise them against other priorities.
- Disorganised Storage: Documents stored in multiple locations or without a clear system can lead to confusion and inefficiency.
- Lack of Standardisation: Without standardised formats, templates, and naming conventions, it will be harder to efficiently access and harness documents.
- Access Control Issues: Managing who has access to what documents can be a complex task; people may not have access to files they need when they need it, or access controls can be too permissive.
- Fragmented Version Control: Many businesses can lose time to working on outdated documents or multiple versions of the same document without a way of making it easy to find and work on the latest versions of files.
Does this sound like your business? Don’t worry! With the help of technology, streamlined document management is within your reach.
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Technologies For Better Business Document Management
While business will have different needs, goals, workflows, and compliance requirements, these IT solutions can help your business to move from document decadence to document mastery.
Document Management Systems (DMS)
Document Management Systems are specialised apps that are designed for the efficient handling of digital documents. They can prove to be a boon for businesses such as architecture firms, or marketing, PR and other creative agencies working with clients that require secure yet efficient document handling.
These systems offer a range of functionalitiesincluding indexing for easy searchability, version control to keep track of changes, and workflow automations to streamline document-related processes. They also offer integration features with other business apps such as CRMs, and cloud workplace software such as Microsoft 365, enabling a DMS solution to work as a central hub for streamlined and secure document work.
They also often come with robust cyber security features for protecting sensitive information and files from cyber threats on one hand, while meeting regulatory and industry requirements on the other.
Cloud Storage Solutions
Flexible, scalable and backed by the enterprise-grade security of today’s leading software providers such as Google, Dropbox, and Microsoft, cloud storage solutions make it easy to access documents from anywhere. These platforms also provide collaborative features, allowing multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously. Automated backup and live updated syncing helps to avoid version control issues and data loss.
Collaboration platforms like Microsoft 365 and Slack integrate document management with communication, facilitating real-time collaboration. These tools offer features like chat, video conferencing, and integrated document editing, making them ideal for teams that require constant communication. Integration with other apps and services further enhances their utility, making them a one-stop solution for collaboration needs.
Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace enable businesses to pin important documents and messages with attachments in chats, making them easy to access. Microsoft also offers an elaborate suite of tools for empowering compliance and data management across documents, with solutions such as Syntex and its data loss prevention platform for example.
Data Security Tools
Data security tools encompass a range of technologies ranging from features within a software, to standalone software solutions. If a business experiences a data breach, this can seriously compromise its document management and operations.
Features include multi-factor authentication, access controls, and user permission setting, while standalone software include data encryption solutions and extended detection and response (XDR) software.
Implementing Improved Document Management with Technology
With an understanding of the pain points and some solutions for improving your document management, here are some steps you can take:
- Identify your pain points across your document management system and processes to set the scene – what are the causes?
- Implement the right tools and processes to address these pain points across your business. If you haven’t already, consider implementing a centralised cloud-based document management solution.
- Educate your team as appropriate with the right tools, processes, and attitude towards document management to encourage organisational change.
- Consider how better document management can be measured and verified in your business, and create provisions to help ensure your standards are being met.
- Define appropriate access controls as needed across your document systems and wrap around cyber security measures to protect your sensitive information.
With more quantities and flows of information moving through businesses and the world more broadly, finding ways to streamline and empower collaboration and document management is a key way of driving productivity and efficiency, while ensuring a cyber-secure operation in your business.
The transition to a new system and way of managing your documents may take time and effort, but the long-term benefits that it will bring to your business will be more than worth the effort.
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