5 Common Document Management Problems to Avoid

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/11/2021 - 14:49
Man working on computer in document management spreadsheet system.

In today’s digitized world, businesses of all sizes are facing challenges with breaking out of antiquated modes of operation. Document Management is an area that easily falls into this category, especially if the systems in place were established well before the Internet took hold. Here are some common document management mistakes to look out for and avoid.

The Top Document Management Mistakes

1. Having Decentralized Filing Systems

One of the worst things to deal with is working strictly with paper files. The manual process of going to a large filing cabinet and sifting through years of abandoned hanging and manila folders to find the one document needed for your project is a daunting task. Moreover, if after spending your precious moments looking for and finding the file you need, discovering that the file folder is empty is infuriating, to say the least.

Companies dealing with decentralized filing systems typically have more than one way of filing documents in each department. Without a uniformed company wide protocol for filing documents, your system is vulnerable to human error that will go on without notice until the file is needed once again.

While some companies need or prefer to have certain files in paper form, ensuring the safety and protection of your company’s intellectual property assets by creating digital versions will keep your document management system efficient.

2. Lost documents

When a well-meaning employee pulls a file to work on, there is no telling if that file will ever make its way back to the file cabinet. It happens in all workplaces, from small to large, when handling physical files. For smaller companies, tracking down files is an annoyance, but at larger corporations, this can spell disaster.

Digitized filing systems provide a central repository for important documents that makes it harder to misplace. The instances of misfiling have become fewer, but also locating a missing digital file takes less time thanks to searchable databases, keywords, and other tools that can make retrieval less painful.  

3. No System for tracking retrieval/return

Companies with open filing systems, that is, a system where anyone can retrieve documents without accountability is a mistake to avoid at all costs. It’s not enough to assign departments to specific file cabinets. Going a step further and designating a specific role/person to be the owner of the department files will keep documents intact. Ideally, this role would also have an established protocol to grant access to anyone seeking access and a subsequent protocol to ensure files are returned.

Electronic files typically have built-in trackers to know who accessed the file and when. This takes the guesswork out of locating missing files, can increase employee productivity, and believe it or not, employee morale by eliminating stress and ensuring project completion.

4. Not having a retention schedule

Another common mistake most companies make is not knowing the types of files to keep and for how long. Tax records, receipts, invoices, employment applications all have very specific and legal retention periods to abide by. Without keeping track of this, the document management system is overwhelmed with old and outdated files that no one will retrieve. Working with a document specialist can help determine which documents to keep and for how long. Some systems can be automated to notify when files should be destroyed,

5. Working on old document version

Employees lose irreplaceable time and productivity by working extensively on the wrong version of documents. Most workers have faced sending supervisors, colleagues, and business partners older incorrect versions of a working document. Creating a streamlined document management policy can help reduce confusion and keep current versions front and center. Automated or digitized systems can timestamp when a document was last worked on so that workers can instantly see the latest version of any document.

If having a simplified and more effective way to implement and manage document management protocols is what you are after, then working closely with a document specialist can help to streamline your document management system and restore control over your operations.

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