Six important things to think about before you start with document management

Documents are part of every organisation. Think about reports and minutes, quality documents such as protocols, procedures and work instructions. How should your organisation handle these types of documents, how can you find the correct documents quickly and how long should you keep your documents? Your organisation needs to have answers to all these questions.

The preparation
Starting the process of document management requires thorough preparation. In order to avoid buildup of random documents and the creation of duplicate documents, you first need to take the following into account: who writes which documents and when? Who is in control? And how will we present documents to the end user in an approachable way? The technical aspect should not be neglected either. In today’s world, where users own more and more mobile devices such as an iPad or smartphone, the demand for access through these devices is increasing.

The standard
In many organisations, quality management is an essential part of the daily operations. There are various stakeholders (authorities, customers, clients, contractors) who demand this of the organisations. Examples include ISO, HKZ or INK certification processes. A large number of documents are often involved in these processes. Companies often turn to software support to simplify the creation and management of documents.

The start
Before you start with the implementation of a document management system, you first need to determine your wishes and requirements. Think of the way in which documents are managed and released, which types of documents are permitted, how the system handles the management of different versions, speed of access and ease of use. You also need to answer the question about why your organisation needs a digital document management system.

A proficient system supports the complete process of creating, storing, assessing/authorising, requesting and filing documents. Moreover, the entire document process is saved automatically. The access to published documents should be set at a document level. The complete process from draft to publication is supported by a dynamic assessment flow.

Both meta data such as inspection date, version number, author and authorisation as well as fields that you have created can be used to find your documents quickly. You can also use meta data, for example, to generate overviews, such as “number of documents per department sorted by status” or “documents that require attention”.

A modern document management system is web-based and can be accessed from every work station or mobile device within your organisation or remote if needed. Documents can be shared with your partners in a safe and controlled way using the cloud.

What is the next step?
Once you have listed all your wishes and you have met all the requirements, such as a project group, project plan, budget and supporting tools for document management, then you can go ahead with the implementation. Ensure that you have the correct people sitting around the table and also take communication with the users into consideration. The IT department should also be involved in the project as a whole, so that they can submit their ideas about the technical consequences and can anticipate on this.

The implementation of a document management system is not only a matter of implementing a system and making a few agreements about organisation and adding meta data. The way in which documents are handled will also need to be examined.

Six important things you need to take into account before you start with document management:

  1. Set up a project group with representatives from the correct departments; include the IT department, as people often forget about them.
  2. Determine how your documents need to be provided (at every work station and on which mobile devices).
  3. Check with the end users which meta data are important in finding documents quickly.
  4. Roll out the process for drafting, evaluating and authorising, requesting and filing documents.
  5. Appoint the correct authors, administrators and auditors for documents.
  6. Seek the assistance of a professional who can help you with practical aspects and answer any questions at an organisational level.

Documents should consistently be stored in one location and not on your own network drive. Users must be made aware of agreements regarding document management and they must respect these agreements. This process requires a direct connection to the work place, in order to pinpoint and discuss any issues. Finally, a well-functioning document management system is only possible when it is well maintained by the entire organisation.

In conclusion
Take your time and seek assistance from professionals who can help you not only with the practical aspects, but who can also answer questions at an organisational level that you may encounter during this process. They have many years of experience and can have an added value in combination with best practices from your industry.

Kirsten van Blijswijk | | Six important things to think about before you start with document management | Infoland
pijl oranje 4 | | Six important things to think about before you start with document management | InfolandKirsten van Blijswijk advises and guides healthcare organisations with questions about the quality management system of Infoland.