Efficient document management plays a huge role in ensuring that your company runs smoothly. If you’re an entrepreneur, you want to make sure that your filing system works for your business. Just think about it: disorganized filing can lead to misplaced documents, wasted time, lost opportunities, and a host of other possible problems.
Your goal, of course, is to have a file management process that enhances efficiency and productivity in your operations. That way, you can ensure you provide your clients with timely delivery of products and services.
Modern document management – and how to do it right
These days, most companies use a combination of paper and electronic files for their documents.
As Indeed.com pointed out, the paper system can “serve as a reliable backup.” Meanwhile, digital documents can “ensure that company records are kept safe and remain accessible at all times.”
That said, what’s most important is that your filing system specifically meets your business’ demands and contributes to overall efficiency. You and your team should be able to access files as and when they are needed.
Here are some useful suggestions you might want to incorporate as you strive to improve your filing management system:
Use categories in structuring your filing system
Before anything else, you want to have an appropriate folder organization system in place. Structuring your system around your categories will ensure easier filing of different business documents. For example, you may want to label folders by project or by client. That way, you – or anyone in your team – can easily find certain files whenever necessary.
From there, you can then decide which formats and naming conventions to use for your files. Some companies mainly go for PDF files while others prefer Word or a combination of both. In any case, it’s better to use specific names, such as client or project names. Abbreviations usually cause confusion, especially if some of your staff are not familiar with them. Likewise, adding dates to file names can speed up the searching process.
Digitize existing paper documents
“As your business progresses from a startup to an established business, the volume of paper documents grows exponentially.”
Naturally, this can result in “stockpiled paperwork” that “wastes space and is difficult to manage.”
Digitizing records will allow you to keep all important documents by having electronic counterparts for each one. This is also more convenient since you won’t have to keep cabinets of files anymore. You can just use a hard drive or cloud storage. Sharing digital versions of documents among your team can also make collaboration stress-free. Best of all, digitization is eco-friendly because you won’t have to use as much paper anymore.
To digitize your records, scan files and save them on your preferred format and then folder categories.
Delete and archive files on a regular basis
Another key to efficient document management is to make it a habit to deal with unused files or folders regularly. Keeping your system clutter-free can contribute to an easier filing system. So check your folders often and eliminate files that are no longer needed. You can either delete them from your system or archive them for quick access in the future. Needless to say, the latter only applies for documents that are rarely used but are still important for your business.
As mentioned earlier, storing documents on the cloud is a very good idea. Most businesses today use cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Cloud Platform, OneDrive, and others.
Sign up for a virtual mailbox
Although primarily known as a mail management solution, virtual mailbox services can be helpful for your document management needs, too.
How exactly does it work, you ask? Well, your chosen provider will receive all mail and parcels on your behalf. This includes legal documents, business correspondences, and others. Each one is sorted, photographed, and sent to you via an online notification. You can then request your virtual mailbox provider to open and scan essential letters. At your instruction, they’ll even forward essential letters to your location if you’re, say, on a business trip and need the paper copy. Otherwise, you can also ask them to discard or shed unnecessary mail.
Aside from this, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, freelancers, and other traveling professionals love using virtual mailbox services as well. The solution allows them to be on the go without worrying about missing important letters and packages.
Since the service also digitizes letters and documents, it can play an integral part in your document management process.
Explore different document management strategies
Finally, you also want to remain open-minded about trying different document management techniques and tools before settling on something. Every business is unique and so certain practices may not work for everyone.
Test various filing processes to see which makes perfect sense for your operations. Most importantly, consult with your team members to know their thoughts about which they like best and why. Doing this will allow you to decide which best matches your organization’s workflow.
As Richard Lauwers, former Director of Information Governance for Merrill Corporation, once said:
“Records management is knowing what you have, where you have it and how long you have to keep it.”
By implementing the best document management practices, you will be able to simplify everything while boosting your business efficiency.