January 27th, 2014
Document management is an important objective for any company, particularly in industries with strict compliance measures requiring fast and frequent access to digitized archives, reports and other records. But with so many options for document management software, scanners and other tools, how can you be sure your strategy is sound?
Here is a list of features you need for effective document management:
- Powerful Search: Whether you’re using a customized document management solution or an “off-the-shelf” program, it’s important to be able to search for and find exactly what you need – whether it’s text or OCR (optical character recognition) – and no matter what the content type.
- Revision History: Your program should preserve all versions of a document while also providing instant access to the newest version of the file. This ensures that all iterations of the document are preserved, allowing you to quickly find or roll back to earlier versions.
- Retention Rules: The ability to define document retention and disposition rules is an important part of any document management system. Such rules reduce operating and storage costs and minimize the legal risks of keeping unneeded documents or destroying necessary files.
- User Access Controls: Access controls allow you to define which users and departments can view which types of documents. For example, you may grant permission for your HR department to view salary and benefits information while restricting access to such files to other employees. This is important, as role-based document access provides the right permissions to the right employees while safeguarding sensitive or confidential company information.
- Seamless Import Capabilities: Your program should offer importing features that allow users to add folders or individual documents quickly and easily using standard operations like copy-and-paste, drag-and-drop or right-click and select. A good system will allow you to import files by the hundreds or one at a time while retaining content hierarchy of folders and subfolders. Importing also should give users immediate access to documents and allow them to save new versions in real time.
- Integrated Workflow Options and Routing: Workflow options allow you to design, manage and support document workflows, improving efficiency by automating and speeding up business processes. A good program will give you the tools you need to create predefined workflow rules and parameters, even with the most complex processes, as well as role-based workflow security, team-based workflows, and yes-no decisioning.
If you’re not sure your document management program is up to snuff – or if you need to build one from the ground up – you may consider hiring a consultant to advise you on the best solution for your business, whether it’s an off-the-shelf program or a custom strategy.
December 17th, 2013
The electronic age has created an explosion of business information, making it difficult for companies to manage their records efficiently and strategically. But, for most companies, records management is a critical part of doing business, and it’s absolutely imperative for businesses in highly regulated industries that must be able to access records quickly and easily.
Make sure your company’s sensitive information is secure, accessible and meets compliance measures by avoiding these five common records management mistakes:
- Storing your files on site: Businesses amass files at an alarming pace, and in-house storage is the most costly and least secure option for inactive paper files, electronic messages and other records. Protect your business by making a digital copy of sensitive and important documents and consider storing them in the cloud, on a secure server or external hard drive, or at an off-site records storage center.
- Not establishing an effective indexing system: Records management is more than moving your files to cloud-based storage or an off-site facility. It’s important to establish an indexing system to ensure quick and easy file retrieval, particularly in industries that are audited frequently.
- Not defining a records retention schedule: Creating a retention schedule is an important aspect of records management, particularly in industries that are legally required to keep files for a specified time period before destroying them. Automating this process provides an even higher level of efficiency, as it establishes rules-based policies for storage, retention and retrieval for every type of document.
- Not shredding documents regularly. Identity theft is on the rise, and business trash is highly vulnerable to criminals, competitors and even disgruntled employees. As a result, proper records disposal is more important than ever. Just as it’s important to create a schedule for retaining records, it’s also imperative to shred documents on a regular basis.
- Assigning records management to untrained staff: While it may seem cost-effective to assign records management to junior or administrative staff, this is penny wise and pound foolish. Your records management professional should have the training and background necessary to implement your company’s storage, retrieval and retention policies, ensure compliance with legal requirements, and manage any technology or system issues.
September 18th, 2013
Effective records management is an important function for any business, particularly for organizations that are highly regulated and must be able to access data quickly and easily. But managing records can be a complicated process, and how can you be sure your program meets the needs of your company?
Here’s a quick look at the five key steps for implementing a successful records management system:
- Define your strategy: What is your plan for records retention? What about records disposition? Many companies simply save every record, but this approach is costly and inefficient, particularly with paper records that must be stored and aren’t easily accessible. Determine which documents are important to keep – for legal or record-keeping purposes – and which can be deleted or shredded.
- Gain buy in: It’s critical for executives to understand industry and organization record requirements, policies and procedures. Make sure they’re fully on board with your records management strategy.
- Create a records system: Once your strategy is in place, determine your system for filing and indexing your records, whether paper or digital, to ensure easy access and retrieval across your organization. This can be a daunting task, and more and more companies are turning to records management professionals to build and implement their systems.
- Consider records preservation: What is the lifecycle of your records? While many documents are important to preserve, others simply take up drive space or clutter desktops. Develop a document preservation strategy for your company’s critical records, and consider working with a trained specialist to preserve important paper and electronic forms.
- Train your staff: Ensure your employees understand your records management strategy, policies and procedures, whether through a training program, published FAQ, or company intranet explaining the do’s and don’ts of your business’ records system. You may even consider internal audits of your staff to check for compliance, especially if your company is subject to outside audits.