According to a McKinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day — that’s 9.3 hours per week, on average — searching for and gathering information.
That’s almost 20% of their business time, or one day per working week wasted searching for the information they need to do their jobs.
Document management has become one of the most important components of an effective workplace. It’s essential to get right, yet not many workplaces are.
The problem is that document management tools haven’t evolved to suit modern workplaces. In this article, we’ll look at the modern situations that traditional document management solutions don’t suit. Furthermore, our top tips for choosing a solution that not only works in modern environments but excels for every type of team.
Where most document management tools fall down
Traditional ways of managing information are focused on documents and files. i.e. they are solely document management solutions. Unfortunately, most of the solutions haven’t evolved to new ways of working. As a result, organisations are not capturing important information and knowledge. Working digitally, now means we work with information, not just documents and files. Ideas, decisions, communications, plans and files are scattered across a plethora of single-purpose apps.
Here are just some examples:
- A chat message from an account manager providing updated information on a client
- A decision on a task management platform
- An updated document shared in a communications app
- An approval from a customer in a project app
- An edited document in Google Drive or O365.
To make matters worse, exacerbated employees are bypassing their document management system entirely because it’s just too hard and time-consuming to leave one app to transfer the information to another.
This is not ideal because employees can’t work effectively which is adding to workplace stress. They’re wasting precious time hunting and gathering information that may or may not even exist in the document management system their organization is using. Without the right information, their work is incomplete or worse, irrelevant.
There are solutions. Here’s how to find and rank them.
Identifying a good document management system
When it comes to accessing information in the digital workplace, the game-changer for modern businesses is a single source of the truth. If information is stored in multiple silos, you’ll be fighting a battle you can never win. Think email, messaging, single-purpose cloud apps, local and shared drives, cloud drives and other work-based applications.
Information now extends beyond just documents files and includes, messages, collaborations, decisions and approvals, versions, work history and performance reporting.
This information needs to be omnipresent and delivered to the right people at the right time. After all, information is at the heart of all work. Furthermore, accessing information should be fast which means we need to do away with hunting for information based on where it is to quickly find information based on what it is. Better yet, how about connecting information to work so it’s served to people when they actually need it.
Starting with speed, let’s look at the key features in more detail:
1. Rapid and accurate searching
The quickest way to find information is using metadata. Far more precise than a Google-like search, metadata allows for rapid and accurate searching so users simply find information based on what it is they’re looking for. An example is for all supplier invoices in June with a value between $1800 and $5000. Try this with a folder structure and it could take hours. With metadata, it’ll take seconds.
However, most do a poor job at searching for files. They struggle to search for anything but the file title, usually listed in an unmanaged folder-like structure. They struggle to find different types of files with the same or similar content and they don’t allow for saved searches (i.e. most frequent searches).
You shouldn’t accept a document management solution without core search functionality and should always test it first. Each solution will have a search, but you need it to be brilliant.
2. Robust permission controls
A second problem for employees searching for key information is only to find out they don’t have access to it. While controlling access is important (i.e. financial reports), a better way to manage that process is by removing the employee’s ability to find the document in the first place with smart permissions, access policies and displays rules. Alternatively, you could go the other way and give every employee access to every document (save for payroll information or other sensitive information). Whichever option you choose, your document management solution needs to manage security from simple to complex.
We often hear from system administrators of the extreme burden of managing access control lists. A modern document management system should simply apply for roles with access policies. This way, a new employee can be added in seconds and based on their role, will have the right access to all the information they need to do their work, and nothing more.
3. Version control and subscriptions
When multiple employees work on the same document it can be hard to know which document is the most up to date. Proper version controlling fixes this. When a new version is uploaded, the old version is retained — so that anyone with rights, can roll it back at any time — and the new version becomes the single source of truth making work easier for everyone working in the same file.
This becomes very important when collaborating because you want to make sure everybody is working from the right information.
If your document management system is really smart, it will provide the capability for information to find people, not the other way around. Information subscriptions notify and deliver information to you as soon as it enters the system from any source. Think new version of a document, customer purchase order over $5000, service request from “XYZ” client.
4. Putting information to work
This is probably one of the biggest pitfalls of traditional document management. They don’t allow users to simply connect information with new ways of working. Modern document management should be integrated with all new ways of working. Simply attaching files to a chat message or task is the best way to misplace it or worse, share it with the wrong person.
Information should be available throughout all collaboration and workflow cycles, regardless of where and how it entered the system. A customer may introduce a new version of a document in a collaboration space along with some supporting messages and decisions. This all needs to be automatically stored in the document management system as a matter of record. As an asset.
Effective document management must allow information to connect with all the ways you work. This includes all communications, projects and tasks, workflows and file shares. While documents and files are being put to work, they must remain managed, in a single place and must not be copied, rather referenced to the system as there should always be a single source of truth, and not multiple copies and versions.
5. Monitoring and audit logs
The final requirement for an effective document management solution is a comprehensive and complete audit log of document views and edits. This is particularly important for companies operating in highly regulated industries or with significant compliance challenges.
You want to be able to determine, who created the file, who accessed the file, who modified the file, and who they shared it with.
How PIQNIC ranks?
Imagine a tool where you can bring teams, work, and information together in one place. A single platform where you can quickly find the information you need, kick off projects, manage tasks, share files, review documents, make decisions, manage workflows, and engage with all of your customers and partners.
Imagine you’re doing all of this within the same platform. A platform that combines the best of the workplace and team management with an information management solution that’s storing some of the most sensitive information but serving it to the right people at the right time.
Information is a business’s greatest asset, not just documents. Furthermore, all workplaces need somewhere secure to capture it and present it in a way that makes all employees more efficient.
You don’t have to imagine perfect information management. You can experience it.