An efficient document management can be difficult to accomplish. Although deploying a new Document Management System might sound easy, the challenge is to properly customise the solution and ensure your team use it consistently. We have created and managed countless solutions for our clients, so we thought we would share some tips for deploying and managing a successful DMS.
1. Consider Microsoft SharePoint
We recommend Microsoft SharePoint as the solution for your Document Management System. It provides an elegant user interface and an extensive suite of powerful content management features that let you easily store, organise and search files, secure sensitive documents, and guarantee file consistency. Moving files into appropriate libraries is as simple as dragging and dropping, and SharePoint includes comprehensive archiving and retention capabilities to support future audit or litigation discovery requirements. Key SharePoint deliverables are:
- Store, organise, and advance retrieve documents
- Guarantee the consistency of your files
- Automate workflows for document approvals
- Secure sensitive information against unauthorised access
- Manage and control docs and files for auditing purposes
- Perform all of the above in or out of the office – achieve complete mobility!
The main advantage of SharePoint is that it integrates into the Microsoft ecosystem so users can work with apps, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint in an environment they are already familiar with.
2. Understand your business’ process
This phase is critical in the successful project, and we recommend investing time in gaining a thorough understanding of how your business currently creates, shares and manages its documents. Your processes and workflows may be unexpectedly complex and it’s important to ensure your new DMS is configured correctly to meet your business needs. Key questions to ask employees are:
- How do people share documents?
- What are the most frequent created and opened documents in your business? Videos, PDFs, Word, Excel?
- What manual processes would benefit from being automated?
- Which workflows will you need and how can you enhance current ones?
- How can a document management solution help you save time and be more productive? This should be an open question to let staff express their wants and needs.
3. Classify your content carefully
Once you know how your documents are created and controlled, the next step is to classify your content and think about how the documents should be organised. The relationships between files can be considered in terms of permissions (who has access) and grouping (by date/project/client). Performing this preliminary classification correctly will make the task of migrating content much easier. Key questions to ask departments are:
- What levels of permissions should be set by department?
- What type of documents should be companywide and which ones should be department only?
- Are documents currently grouped by client, date, project or department?
- Do you want to keep the old document structure or are you open to suggestions and possibly a new filing structure?
4. Define your Metadata
SharePoint’s metadata capabilities allow you to assign all types of data and properties to your documents. Metadata is data about data, and can include rich-text long-form descriptions, auto generated reference numbers, and multiple-choice selections chosen from drop-down lists. With the appropriate metadata, documents are easier to search, navigate and identify.
Instead of storing your files in folders, SharePoint enables your business to define a range of specific categories to file and lookup against. Let me explain…
Imagine that your company undertakes projects for clients. Your company creates the following types of files for most projects: tender, contract, variation, project image, correspondence.
The old way
· When locating one of these files in a traditional folder based filing system, staff would browse to the relevant project folder, then look through all the other files in that folder to hopefully find the contract (assuming it will be saved under the right name and will be the last updated version).
The new way
· Under a SharePoint categorised file system, files can be located by simply selecting the relevant document categories. Firstly: ‘Project Name’, ‘Client Name’ or ‘Project Number’, and secondly: the ‘File Type’ of ‘proposal’. The files that match those categories are then displayed. See example below:
5. Create a deployment plan
For large and complex projects, a phased deployment may be the best option. You might begin by rolling out the system to a small department, limiting the deployment to a subset of features only, or running the new DMS alongside the existing system for a period of time. If you chose the latter option, then it’s a good idea to make the old system read-only to encourage users to migrate to the new DMS and avoid having to migrate more data later.
6. Develop a training and communication plan
Your employees are likely to need some training on the new system. A printed guide may be sufficient, or if your DMS is complex then users may require a classroom session. It’s also important to communicate when the platform will go live in advance. Common tools are emails and printed posters announcing the relevant dates and promoting the benefits of the new DMS.
At Bremmar, we have realised that when implementing a new DMS the main obstacle encountered by businesses is not technical, but with user adoption. Your team members are used to working in a certain way and will most likely find it hard to change and accept new systems and processes.
This period of change is completely normal and the business can assist with a smooth migration by giving employees a voice before rolling out the new system and getting feedback. Training is essential. Why would you have the best DMS if your employees don’t know how to use it and can’t use it to its full potential? When the system goes live, you could arrange for advisors or “product champions” to advocate for the solution as well as provide hands-on guidance.
At Bremmar, we have helped many businesses to implement and manage a SharePoint DMS. If you would like assistance or advice, simply call Bremmar today on 1300-991-351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and talk to one of our consultants!