13 Steps to Effective Document Management

document management

Management of documents and files determines a lot of things in our businesses. Miss a step in the management of materials and you, will see yourself spiralling down the food chain and a lot of dissatisfied customer at your door. However, if you get it right, you will see yourself gradually moving up the food chain with a massive list of a satisfied customer.

Despite the importance, a lot of business ventures still find it difficult to pay attention to the management of documents, putting up one excuse or the other on why they find it difficult to manage their documents.  It is very important that you manage your files well as it saves you the stress of saving up tasks.

The correct management of documents comes with a lot of benefits such as improved access to documents, improved office efficiency, reduced day-to-day operation costs, better office space and Safeguarding of confidential information.

Below you will find 13 steps that will change your document management system for good.

STEP 1:  Designate a file management team

For sufficient documentation, you need a specific and clear plan, and that begins with putting a group to be in charge of the whole process as practiced in other sections of the business environment.

Avoid a big misconception about the word ‘group.’ In this context, the group does not connote an entire army of workers committed to only document management. Often, this word translates to a group lead and an assistant; the lead is in charge of the overall activities, while the assistant learns and understand the whole process while taking charge when the lead is off duty. You can decide if you want to have more than two people on the group if your paperwork is much, but the overall goal is to ensure having personnel with adequate knowledge of the sharing documents.

STEP  2:  Establish your File Management procedures

After choosing a group lead and assistant, the next line of action is to set up the standards and procedures you will follow as regards the management of documents. Most times, these standards are already laid bare for you to follow. A lot of professional agencies establish specific standards for business ventures to adhere in terms of management of information; this includes the extent to which one can have a document and types of documents to be stored.

Your activities will be controlled by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), which determines the way you make use of and store personal data about your staff and customers. Set out a period to go through the code of conducts and use these to establish a complete document management process.

State data that should be stored and data to be discarded, the duration for storing the data and the location to store the data. Determine if you will make use of a document regularly or occasionally, or if it can be kept in the archives until it is needed. Anyone coming into your enterprise should be given a copy of your file management system.

STEP 3: Create a file plan & schedule

When it comes to referencing a file, a file plan is created to ease things up. Thus, one can say it is a tool used for organizing files and documents.  A file plan serves as a form of a checklist, providing information on the content of a file folder or whatever you decide to save your data in. After this, make a list of the file plans which gives room for easy and swift reference.

You should then create a catalog of file plans which allows for quicker reference. You determine the complexity of a file plan; eventually, it should allow you to access data easily.    The file plan also helps in the retention of file and documents as it provides you information on which files you want to save or delete and when you want to carry out the operation.

STEP 4: Organise existing files

The only reason you will likely not have a good supply of existing files and documents, both online and physically, is that you are just setting up your business. Organising existing files is done to draw out the best in the way you manage the document.

You should create file plans alongside each document and keep a record of the information in the system you have set up. It should be noted that doing this provides a platform to rearrange and reorganize folders that contains important information.    Very few people consider the organisation of documents as a viable job, but it is worthy to note that it comes with a lot of benefits.

STEP 5: Purge existing files for out-of-date, unnecessary content

In the process of rearranging your documents, you will discover some files that are no longer needed, and this avails you an avenue to remove these unnecessary files. It also helps determine the important documents. You can start throwing away outdated documents, and cassette tapes you have in your collection.

All in all, unnecessary materials can also be categorised in a place, ready to be disposed of. It is important one takes cognisance of the worth of the old documents, some are still relevant despite being old and thus be archived, while others need to be disposed of.

STEP 6: Arrange storage, disposal

The next step to take after organising your documents is the disposal of documents. As regards storage, determining the form of archiving method to use is important. The amount of documents that need to be stored is a big determinant on this decision. Small scale firms and businesses most times use onsite format to store their documents, by putting it in cabinets and lockers, while big business ventures may decide to assign a room to store their documents.

Considering electronic files, one can archive documents and file in a large-capacity external disk drive or make use of an offsite system. As regards the disposal of documents and files, it is important to follow the Data Protection 1998 act and securely dispose of all confidential information. The basic form of disposal of the document, which is shredding and formatting hard drives, should be made use of.

STEP  7:  Ongoing maintenance

All your energy will go down the drain if you do not save your file in your document management system. Take time out to label your work appropriately to avoid losing your file. People working with you will find it difficult to find files you worked on if they are not labeled properly. Finally, educate your staff and colleagues on how the document management system works as part of ongoing maintenance. I would like to refer Finance.uw.edu how they clear the ideas of naming and labelling files so easily.

STEP 8: Implement New Software

When the talk of upgrading a document management system comes to the fore, it is considered to mean looking for the alternative software platform. Take your time to introduce this alternative to your workers as you may encounter some form of resistance from some, while others adapt to the change easily. Implement the new platform with care and caution. Prepare ahead for perceived problems such as resistance to new technology by providing training and promote user adoption.

STEP 9: Encourage Collaboration

Furthering, the working relationship between your employees is also beneficial to your business. Most employees find it easy to work alone except when encouraged to work with others. Your team can only attain its full prospects by working together.

Working together can help document management in the following ways –

  • Content Creation — Some of the functional methods of promoting an enterprise is through blogs and articles. When your members of staff work together, the standard of work produced goes up. Document management and working together on content can take place on the same platform when one is using the right option.
  • Document Organization — A major barrier to productivity is organisation. Members of staff can take up the role to be in charge of organising, tagging, and removing photocopies of documents.

STEP 10: Communicate within the Online Document Management System

One thing that has been established to be responsible for the success or failure of a project is communication. Most issues concerning a project result from lack of communication. In modern times, business ventures make available different means of communication for members of staff.

Hence, it is advisable that to be successful, document management and team communication should be interwoven. Make use of the document management system as a main source of communication. With this being done, members of staff will have no reason to make use of different platforms to communicate on official matters.

STEP 11: Appoint a Community Administrator

Appointing a community administrator is another decision that can improve your document management system. This individual will be in charge of monitoring your online document management system.

Confusion may arise from regular uploads of documents and files. Engaging the services of a professional network administrator to stem the flow of activities in your document management system is advisable.

Employ a professional to manage your social networks and monitor the management of documents.

STEP 12: Don’t Overlook the Importance of Versioning

Your online document management system needs versioning feature to eliminate the risk of loss of data. In the process of editing, or storing data, you may lose the data, but with the help of versioning, you can see phases of edits to continue your work.

The major importance of versioning is that it allows you to edit as much as you desire and you do this without tampering with the original file.

When you try to check out information from the original document, this feature emerges as an important one.

Also Read:

Best File Manager for iPhone

It is important to add versioning as a feature of your online document management systems, as you look out for the perfect platform.

STEP 13: Define Access Rights

Not every one of your employees requires complete permission to every document on the server. By establishing an organized access level, not only do you ensure the security of your files but also steer clear of confusion.

Although it is true that sometimes files uploaded on the server may still require further work to be done by other employees, but other works certainly have been completed by the time of their upload. These files should be tagged as read-only, and fixing access means no other person can tamper with what you have certified as completed.


By undertaking the following procedures, you can build on your online document management system as an effective mechanism for your business, developing functionalities that will aid your business development.

The more people understand your system, the more they will adhere to its policies and procedures. Take these thirteen steps, and your business venture will stand out when talking about file and document management.

It should be noted that the thirteen steps can be maneuvered to suit your firm; all you need to do is to pay attention and determine your need.

Yogesh Patel: Yogesh Khetani is a famous Tech Blogger who loves to be surrounded by tech gadgets. So obviously, we can see his contribution here in that field. He also contributes to Now I am Updated website.