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10 Steps to Create a Document Management Plan

Written by Kristin Savage  on 17 January 2020

Document management is a hot topic right now, given the importance of data in the way the world does business in the digital age. If you want to ensure that your company never falls foul of the data breaches or non-compliance scandals that seem to be popping up all over the place, you’re going to need one of the best document management systems. It’s the system of in-house procedures that ensures you have everything covered when it comes to your documentation. Here’s how you can keep a records management plan running smoothly in ten simple steps.

Appoint a team with experience and a diverse portfolio of skills

If you want to be able to sleep with the peace of mind that everything is under control and your personal papers are not in danger of being hacked, you’re going to have to get your best people on the case. They’re the ones who know your business inside out, and where possible, they should come from as many different departments as possible. That way, you’ll have an accurate picture of how data and electronic files are used companywide, and you won’t forever be amending your plan to cater to the needs of different departments.

Define your system procedures in a way everyone understands

It’s no use having one of the most technical document management systems that only a handful of people can decipher. You may well have come up with the smartest, most innovative approach for storing documents, but if people don’t know how to use it, then it’s just not going to have much of an impact on the way you do things.

The simplest solution is very often the best, so always look for ways to reduce the steps involved so that they remove duplicated effort wherever possible. It might not feel like a significant change now, but when you have hundreds of people following the plan for years, it can soon add up to a massive difference in productivity and performance.

Create a clear plan of action and an example schedule

If you want to get your project moving and easily archive each electronic document, you’re going to need to be able to list your plan of action nice and clearly. By stating clearly and succinctly what you’re planning to do, you’ll be able to identify the places where you need to fine-tune your approach. If you keep things vague and only talk in general terms, you won’t ever find anything wrong, and that’s a problem.

“I’ve always strived to keep our document management system as simple as possible. Just because it’s a powerful system that’s doing something significant doesn’t mean that it has to be convoluted for the sake of it. In fact, as everyone is going to be using it, it needs to be as efficient as possible,” — says Estelle Leotard, a content specialist at Is Accurate.

Organize and restructure your current files and documents

Now that you have the framework of your management plan in place, you can start by loading your existing data and materials into it. This is an excellent opportunity to identify any oversights that may have gone unnoticed until now, and it’s also crucial if you want to create a joined-up solution. If your old files and new files are managed in two wholly incompatible ways, then all that’s going to do is do a lot of extra work for a lot of people in the team.

Remove any redundant documents to streamline your resources

If you’re going to follow the advice of the last point, why not also use this time to get rid of any duplicate or redundant documents? It will save you time having to integrate them into your new plan, and it’ll free up storage space. Just what you need when you want your data and information to be easily searchable and accessible.

Look into safe disposal and storage of all documentation

Anything that you do decide to get rid of needs to be disposed of appropriately. This could be by hiring a specialist shredding company to remove paper copies, or using your in-house tech team to wipe old backups and hard drives. No matter what combination of these you need, make sure that you follow all of the rules and regulations to the letter. That way, you’ll know that any sensitive information won’t fall into the hands of third parties who you don’t want to have access to it.

Perform a realistic test of your new management plan

Putting a management plan through its paces is something that a lot of people are reluctant to do, and for a good reason: they don’t want it to fail. While you may understandably feel that a failed test is a massive step backward, isn’t it far better to identify the key issues and problems as early as possible? Think of any testing you do as a chance to validate and improve your system, rather than to cast doubt on the ability of the people who created it. That way, you’ll end up with a workable solution that will stand the test of time.

Bring the rest of the company up to speed

Now that everything is up and running, you need to turn your attention to training and upskilling the rest of the team. Once everyone is up to speed, you’ll find that your business transitions to the next level without you even realizing it.

“I called an all-hands meeting to highlight the core features of our document management plan before it went live. I then split the company up into smaller teams so we could deliver targeted training to everyone who needed it,” — says Marie Fincher, head of content at Trust My Paper and guest writer at Grab My Essay.

Schedule in periodic maintenance and refresher sessions

Regular maintenance and refresher sessions are essential if you want to get the most out of your initial investment of time, effort, and money. One is all about upgrading your infrastructure and procedures so that your system can evolve in parallel with your business. The other is about ensuring that everyone on the team knows how to use the processes you’ve put in place.

Learn from your mistakes, so your systems always improve 

Mistakes will happen, irrespective of how well prepared you are. The key thing is to own them, identify them, and then fix the errors that caused them. If you do these three things, you’ll have a solution that benefits the company.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve heard read our step-by-step guide about how to get your document management program up and running, it’s over to you to make it happen. It might sound like that’s easier said than done, but with a proactive approach, and a little planning, you’ll be heading in the right direction in no time. Exactly what you need when you want to build your business on a robust and solid foundation.

About the Author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks, and empowers using the magic of the written word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. She's a regular contributor for Supreme Dissertations, a writer for Wow Grade, and a guest writer for BestEssay.Education

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