Transitioning to a document management system can seem daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start. The decision to change the way your company handles files and records should be shaped by all aspects of your business needs. The following tips will help to make your transition successful.
Determine the strengths/weaknesses of your current system
Finding inefficiencies in document flow is the first step in determining what type of document management software to invest in. For example, a business that spends money couriering documents between offices could significantly reduce costs and increase productivity by investing in cloud-based software as it would provide a solution to share files from any device with an internet connection.
Include front-line staff in your decision
Employees are a great resource for pinpointing areas of improvement in day-to day operations. They’ll know which documents are referenced most often, and how quickly they can access archived files. That being said, you may face some resistance to change. Giving your staff some input on the document management system they’ll be using will improve operator acceptance. It will also give you the opportunity to discuss training needs moving forward.
Choose a system that grows with you
A document management systems should be flexible enough to handle all the areas of your business as well as areas you plan to expand into. This means selecting scanning software that can recognize a wide variety of documents, from contracts to cheques. Using software with OCR technology allows you to edit and reformat scanned items, which in turn makes file updates a lot easier.
Adopt easy-to-use software
Your staff may have varying levels of computer skills. Overly complicated document management programs increase the chances of files being indexed incorrectly. Software that includes online user guides or customizable work spaces will help to reduce the number of support calls while everyone is adjusting.
Set clear document retention guidelines
Depending on your business policies, you may want to store some of your paper files after they have been scanned. You should have a timeframe for how long you want to keep certain documents, revisiting their necessity on a regular basis. For example, accounts payable may want to file all of the stubs from checks issued that fiscal year, but then shred them once the annual audit is completed.
Indexing procedures are a must
File labeling and indexing need to be consistent to get the most out of your document management system. Mistakes are to be expected during the transition period. However, department heads should be monitoring for adherence to procedures and arrange for re-training whenever necessary. Create drop down menus in your software program with index fields that are specific to each department. Indexing with key terms, such as “purchase order” for shipping/receiving or “invoice number” for your accounting department will make document retrieval more efficient.
Determine the associated costs
Although document management systems have long term benefits, there are some initial expenses to consider. This all depends on how you plan to implement your transition to digital files. If you plan to complete all file conversions in-house, budget for training, equipment and software purchases, and potential new hires to handle the added workload. Transitioning one department at a time is a good way to control cost, as well as address any issues before going company wide. Alternately, you can have all archived material scanned and indexed offsite. This lightens the workload, allowing employees to focus on document management moving forward.
Click here to learn more about the different document management systems offered by MES Hybrid Document Systems.