500 Billion!!! In 2019 alone according to Chris Flores director of communication for Microsoft’s Windows group a whopping 500 billion word documents were created worldwide! That doesn’t include google docs, PDF’s or documents created using other software!

Every knowledge worker in an organization spends a good percentage of time creating documents. Other employees of the organization uses these documents to deliver an output. This consumption of documents and information can be in many forms.

Why do you need a Document Management Strategy?

Every organization needs a document management strategy to improve access to documents and important information, reduce litigation risk and increase efficiency within the organization. Not having one can harm your organization financially as well as legally. I have done a detailed article on “why your organization needs a document strategy is needed” here.

How to plan document management strategy

 Find a team leader!

Your organization documents are being created /handled/collaborated upon by numerous people in your organization with their ideas, beliefs, values thoughts skills needs and abilities. Someone has to bring all of these people together as a team. 

You also need a leader who can create the strategy and guide people to its finishing point.

Assimilating people from different departments and process areas is the first thing that needs to be done. Then make them act as a mediator between the document strategy planning team and the department, process group that they represent. Gather all the information that’s needed. For example the type of documents to be managed, their purpose, what needs to be done once it’s deprecated, how long the documents need to be archived, etc.

Document the present document management system

It’s very important to understand how the documents are managed now. If all the documents right now are being handled physically, or physically and digitally, etc. The understanding of the present situation is very important before we intervene and implement a new system. 

The knowledge of the present system helps to identify the problems that the knowledge workers will face with the implementation of the new document management system. What kind of new devices, equipment, training, etc are needed once the new system is implemented? What is the change management initiatives that need to be taken? How to deploy the new system in phases etc. 

Identify where are you going to start 

Like any big project, you need to start small to ensure that the team identifies the difficulties and find solutions to overcome these difficulties. The best way is to find a department or process that you can start with. 

Get the people of that department ready and give them a brief of what’s going to happen. Get them to buy in the change initially.

Identify every document

With the department team and document strategy team ready, Identify every document in the selected department. Classify them into but not limited to

  • Emails & Memorandums
  • Business Letters for Outside Communication
  • Reports
  • Records
  • Invoices
  • Client information
  • Forms

This will give you a stock of your organization’s documents as to which needs immediate attention, frequency of updates, the life of each document, who creates approves and stores them, etc. 

Identify the When, Hows, and Whos

Now that you have taken stock of all documents figure out the hows (not limited to the list below)

  • How many documents are prepared from templates
  • Who approves which document
  • How the documents are stored
  • How many people can who can access the documents
  • Who or what factor will govern that
  • How many documents types need approval
  • How many document types will have a physical presence or need to be printed
  • When will a particular document become deprecated
  • How will a deprecated document be handled
  • How they are going to be searched

This is a very time-consuming area and will need some organized system. You will probably need the help of your document management consultant to get this organized. 

We plan to come out with a template that hosts all the When, how and who’s to make a plan for implementing your Document management system. Please contact us if you need a free template or consultation to plan document management strategy. 

Document the processes and procedures

Once you have done the above assign the lead person from the department to document the processes and procedures in simple steps.

Once this is document share with the people who are going to use the document management system in the department and ask if anything needs to be changed/added or replaced. Get everyone to approve the documented procedures. This way the first step of resistance is overcome by getting everyone to be the part of the change! That’s a big step towards success later during implementation.

Again we are planning to create a template that will help you with documenting your processes and procedures. Let us know if you need one?

Document the strategy

With all the information gathered in the above steps document the strategy clearly

  • How every document type will be captured/collected/accepted, processed, reviewed, stored, retrieved, and eventually purged from the system.
  • The document types that will need templates and how the templates will be created/reviewed/updated
  • Which of these processes are standard for the entire organization and which of them needs to be customized for every department
  • Which of the processes are for the departments alone & how will that be handled?
  • Step by step identify, how to reach the goal of getting every document digitized and managed using a document management system.
  • A purging plan or decide what happens to documents which are no longer needed

Create a RACI Matrix

A Responsible Accountable Contributor & Informed matrix should be created and assign every part of the steps to the corresponding person. 

The thing to note here is that the implementation of a Document Management System is the joint responsibility of the DMS strategy team and the consultant if you hire one. YOu cannot have a successful implementation of DMS with just the right consultant or eager organization management. 

In our experience we have figured out a successful document management system implementation is a joint effort! Contact us now to know how we can work together to plan document management strategy for your organisation

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