The traditional models of document storage are dead and buried. Nobody simply stores important documents in the “My Documents” folder or on a network share drive any more, because it’s not possible to find documents quickly and there is little document security and portability. So, what is the way people store documents today?
In this blog post I discuss two real life examples of companies that have committed to using smart document management software, to solve the document tracking & discoverability problems. To protect privacy I won’t disclose names or industries, but it should suffice to say that we have studied companies in Education, Manufacturing, Legal Services and Real Estate Management.
Example 1: Tracking Destroyed Documents
This particular company was recently upgrading one of their buildings. After the building work was complete, the company could not find the blue prints and maps for the work. They spent a month rummaging around and playing the blame game – everybody thought that blue prints must have been made, but somebody destroyed them. There was no tracking mechanism in place that would tell them whether a document ever existed.
As a result they decided to take a few concrete steps, so that such a scenario was not repeated:
- In consultation with all major stakeholders, they prepared a document retention policy. This policy detailed out all major types of records that the company needs to keep. It also detailed out the conditions under which a record could be destroyed (usually a function of time).
- The contracted EisenVault to implement the record policy within the Document Management System (DMS).
- They have decided to scan all important records and store digital copies in the DMS. Each document will be stored with metadata like: Destruction Date, Retention Period, Title, Description etc.
- The workflows are being designed in such a way, that when a document is due for destruction, an approval is sought from a person with authority. Once approval is obtained, the document is deleted, but its metadata is kept.
This does 2 things for the company:
- All records that exist, can be found easily via a full-text search or via an advanced metadata search.
- For documents that have been deleted, the company can easily know the date of destruction, the approving authority, and the subject of the document.
This company is thus developing a strong hold on their important documents and historical records. Everything will be stored securely on the cloud and backed up in geo-redundant locations.
Example 2: Preserving Historical Records
Another company we know has been in business for over half a century. As a result they have many old documents concerning the founders and early employees. The paper that these documents are typed on is old and yellowed. It is brittle and can easily be damaged. This is a threat to the company’s legacy.
The best solution to this was to have all these documents scanned by a professional scanning company. Because the documents were of low quality, they had to be scanned at a very high resolution (600dpi) resulting in PDF files more than 300 MB in size. A good document management system has been deployed, that allows for uploading of these large files. The DMS also runs optical character recognition on each file, making them full-text searchable.
This has had a positive result. The company’s legacy documents are now stored on a secure system where they will last forever. The documents can easily be accessed on laptops and mobiles over the internet. Access control has been defined to ensure only authorised people have access to these documents. And full-text search ensures that it is easy to find documents quickly when needed.
So, what do we learn from the above examples about storing and managing documents?
- Move beyond the confines of the “My Documents” folder
- Use a cloud based service that stores and backs-up important documents
- Make it easy for users to find documents quickly, by using optical character recognition technologies
- Put in place a single document destruction policy across the organisation and track against it diligently
A good document management system is what your company needs.