Microsoft’s SharePoint is a leading vendor in the enterprise content management market. There are also other document management solutions that have been successfully used in the past including those from Oracle (WebCenter), IBM (FileNet/Lotus Domino), and OpenText. Some of our customers have chosen to configure SharePoint as an enterprise document management solution and others have purchased a popular add-on called Knowledge Lake. No matter which technology you have chosen, we believe you will benefit from this article. Below are 5 ways to get the most out of your document management system…
- Create a plan for an efficient and effective way to organize your information
In developing a plan to organize an organization’s information, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. The plan needs to support the goals and culture of the company, taking into consideration how people collaborate, make decisions, and conduct business. A solid plan not only reflects and supports these processes as it is, but finds ways to make the information more meaningful and impactful. In practice, this means taking into consideration:
a) The people beyond the documents and other information: what roles they play in the information management process as well as what feedback they have on the current system
b) The different types of documents and other information, and how best to organize and classify them for maximum impact
c) The lifecycle of information and how to manage workflows effectively
d) The policies and governance necessary for appropriate information security, retention, and editorial control
- Make sure your employees are properly trained on your software and strategies
Employee training is critical to any successful document management system. It’s important to ensure users understand not just the “how” (i.e. entering metadata), but also the “why” (i.e. metadata drives efficient workflows and improves search results). Making sure users understand the value of each task will drive adoption and help make sure tasks get done.
- Utilize all of the features of your software
It may be tempting to limit the use of features in a document management system, especially with a robust tool such as SharePoint, in an effort to “keep it simple.” But it’s important to fully understand all features and how they can actually make life simpler and more efficient for your organization. For instance, implementing Content Types in SharePoint requires some up-front planning, but can pay many dividends once in place. Among the many benefits, some include integrated document templates and uniform metadata options across the organization. For a user looking to use the right template and assign metadata properly, more features translates to less stress.
- Make sure your employees are on the same page as to how your departments collaborate and share documents
While implementing change and getting a large group of people on the same page are always a challenge, a strong document management plan can help you succeed. Increase the odds of success by:
a) Understanding the culture and goals of the organization and allowing local control and flexibility when appropriate
b) Making compliance easier through the use of tools such as content types
c) Communicating policies clearly in person and online
- Make sure content owners have specific responsibilities for managing their own content
As discussed above, understanding the people creating and working with information, and determining their roles in document lifecycles, is key in developing a strong document management plan. In addition to establishing and communicating clear responsibilities, you can also reinforce roles and increase buy-in by building support into your document management system. For instance, SharePoint workflows can automate the document approval process.
If you are considering a document management project and evaluating whether or not SharePoint and/or Office 365 is a good solution for your needs, contact us and we will offer our advice in a free 30 minute consultation. If you are new to SharePoint and don’t know what it can do, check out these two contract management videos to see some of its capabilities:
Author: David Snyder and Kurt Greening
Editor: Alex Finkel