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The Ultimate Guide for Creating a Document Management Plan

Written by Ana Mayer on January 20, 2021

With the pandemic of 2020, striking businesses particularly hard, most companies are scrambling to forecast what the future holds for them.

Creating a strong documentation management plan is a reliable way your company can prepare for the future after 2020. A documentation management plan will also ensure that your business;

  • Is appropriately protecting critical company information
  • Is compliant with the various operation laws in your region or/and internationally
  • Is working with a budgeted operation cost
  • Has worked to reduce litigation risks
  • Is working efficiently, and making proper use of all the resources allocated it
  • Has improved access to information

This article is a guide to creating a solid documentation plan for your company, but first, what is documentation management?

What is Documentation Management?

Documentation management is how an organization handles documents so that its information is created, distributed, arranged, and filed efficiently.

A documentation management plan should cover the methods and ways your company will use to safely and efficiently protect its information.

A business/company in a controlled/regulated industry needs to ensure that they have a very safe and central way in which documents are kept and accessed at various levels of the company. This ensures that the right people quickly have access to particular documents.

The Ultimate Guide to Document Management

Create a strong project team

The very first step to creating a documentation management plan is to get a strong team on board your goal. This team should comprise people with experience and knowledge about your organization.

The key players within this team can come from within your organization or be an external body coming in to help your organization set precedence. If they are foreign, ensure that you have people from different departments within your company, join the team set.

This is because selected members from the different departments within your company will give them a clearer picture of the file system; they will also serve as a negotiator between the project team and their various groups.

Define system procedures clearly

Simple is always best. Ensure that whatever you do, the document management strategy you create is easy to understand by employees at every level. Eliminate unnecessary steps in your system

Identify each document

The process of identifying the kind of documents the project team will be dealing with is essential for a successful document control system. This step will also take a look at how the organization uses these various document types.

It might take time to complete this step because the project team has to carry out inventory on the various documents in every single department in the organization. This includes both electronic documents and paper documents.

At the end of this stage, the project team should have successfully identified which documents are;

  • Manuscripts
  • Consumer information
  • Reference materials
  • Duplicate documents
  • Personal documents
  • Forms, etc

Build your document management strategy

A strong document management strategy makes for a successful document management plan. Make sure your document management strategy outlines;

  • How the documents will be collected, prepared, examined, stored, recovered, and even purged from your company's document management system.
  • The criteria for the completion of each step
  • If the company will use the system set cross-department, or if specific departments will require a different file system.
  • The process of destroying/archiving documents when they aren't needed

Organize and restructure your current files and documents

This step is particularly useful for correcting any mistakes that may have gone unnoticed in terms of the organization or structure of your company's current files.

Some tasks your project team should do here are to;

  • Make sure that your old and new files are similar in their filing and management.
  • Ensure file naming is in similar format across departments
  • Cross-check that document creation follows the same process across departments.
  • Eliminate redundant documents to increase available storage space, and streamline company resources

Discard unnecessary documents

Eliminate the clutter. Identify those files that are unnecessary and either hand them over to the necessary departments for elimination or do it within the project team.

Whatever choice the project team decides to go with, destroy the documents properly to ensure that they do not become a liability to the company.

However, you don't need to destroy all documents needed; some can be set aside in archives and used to create a history record(a document management software can help in this respite). The company can also develop their processes for handling dated and unnecessary documents

Test your new document control system

Testing is an essential part of any project, so you need to test your new document management system.

Don't be reluctant to carry out a test on this newly created system, because while you may be scared of failure, if your plan fails, it will help you identify what to do to improve it.

The goal of the whole document management plan is to have a working solution in the end, and without a test, you can assuredly deploy your new solution into the work environment.

Train your employees on using the new document control system

So you tested your new document management system, and it works correctly? It's time to train your employees on how to use the new management system effectively.

You can call a company-wide meeting and bring all your staff up to date on the implementation and use of the document management system. This will make for a smoother running company.

Schedule in periodic maintenance and refresher sessions

There is no faster way for a good thing to spoil than leaving it without proper maintenance. That is why creating the document management system is only the first step in your document management strategy.

Make sure you have periodic maintenance scheduled for your system. This will help your system evolve as your company grows.

Also, carrying out refresher sessions will ensure that every staff member knows how to use the system you have created.

Final Thoughts

While creating a document management system is by no means the easiest thing to do; however, with proper planning and the right team, it can be successfully accomplished. Also, if documentation isn't something your team is good at, there are many document service review websites like the Online Writers' Ratings that give you access to organizations that could help with this. Follow this step-by-step guide to have your company document management system running in no time.

Author's bio: This article was written by Ana Mayer, a project manager with 3+ years of experience. While projects can do without her participation (which means almost never), she likes to read and create expert academic materials for the Best Writers Online review website. Such work gives her the opportunity to write articles on the most relevant topics of today.

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