What organisations that excel at document management do differently

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Fact: there’s no one right way to do document quality management in medium to large organisations. However, there are definitely some approaches that achieve better results than others in terms of productivity, compliance and collaboration.

In this blog post, we’ll compare and contrast the experience of two fictional organisations with different approaches to document management.

  • Company A is a construction business with 200+ employees, all using Office 365. Staff access a customised document quality management system, which integrates with SharePoint, to create, edit and view controlled documents.
  • Company B is a not-for-profit with 150 employees. The Quality Manager uses a manual Excel-based process to record information about all controlled documents owned or managed by the organisation.

Read on to find out more about the impact of each document quality management approach.

 

Creating documents

Whether it’s a new policy, operating procedure, contract or technical drawing, the creation of controlled documents is a core business activity for organisations of every shape and size.

For a business like Company A, creating new controlled documents isn’t a big deal. Any authorised team member can log into the document quality management system, find the relevant template and start drafting – with the document style and structure ready to go. The document is automatically saved in a central location, with an audit trail captured in the background. Importantly, the document cannot be viewed by people in the organisation until it has undergone a thorough – but smooth – approval process. Staff don’t need to worry about how the document will be managed because the system is already taking care of it for them.

For a business like Company B, things are a little trickier. A team leader searches SharePoint for a new policy template, but can’t work out which of three different versions is the latest. They create a new document, saved to their OneDrive, and make a note to inform the Quality Manager of work underway. When they hear from the Quality Manager, draft content is copied and pasted into the right template and moved to SharePoint. This process is pretty frustrating for the team leader, with time and effort lost on unnecessary manual tasks and rework.

 

Collaborating on documents

Controlled documents are rarely the work of one person. Many organisations have multiple authors collaborate on drafts, before circulating them to one or more reviewers. Once the review cycle is complete, documents go to one or more approvers. This process can look very different depending on the document quality management approach.

For a business like Company A, document collaboration isn’t a hassle. The document quality management system manages the roles and permissions within the approval process, which makes it easy to assign documents to individual users or groups for specific actions (such as authoring or reviewing).

When a role is assigned, the system automatically notifies people that a document is awaiting action and even provides prompts if tasks are not completed. Better yet, the system integrates all reviewer changes in a single document (with a clear audit trail). The system is purpose-built for multiple staff to work together.

For a business like Company B, it’s not so simple. Multiple authors can collaborate on SharePoint, but this requires email back-and-forth to ensure everyone understands their role and works from the same version. The Quality Manager needs to manually track the status of the document (which can change daily) in an Excel spreadsheet. This is a distraction from high value work.

If the Quality Manager doesn’t make updates, it not only creates a compliance risk but makes it hard to find the source of truth about important documents. This approach relies heavily on individual discipline, manual effort and attention to detail.

 

Finding documents

Whether a team member is trying to find out about a company policy or an executive is preparing for an audit, it’s critical that controlled documents are rapidly accessible to those who need them.

For a business like Company A, there’s only one place that controlled documents are found – and that’s the document quality management system. With advanced search functionality, rich metadata, customised dashboards and integration with SharePoint, it never takes long to find what you need.

For a business like Company B, more steps are usually involved. A staff member can dig around SharePoint, but may face challenges such as finding multiple versions of a document or failing to find key documents at all.

In these events, they need to get in touch with the Quality Manager. The problem is that he or she can only provide guidance if the Excel spreadsheet used to track controlled documents is current and accurate. Sometimes a document will be buried in emails or on a desktop and can’t be produced in time. It’s certainly not always the smooth experience that users hope it to be.

Where to from here?

These examples highlight how a document quality management system can impact an organisation. If you’re thinking about upgrading, factor in the productivity, compliance and collaboration gains that can be realised when you shift from time-consuming manual processes to a streamlined and automated system.

 

Evolve Information Services helps organisations to look after their people, data and inventory with applications that are powerful and easy to use. Contact us to learn how you can improve your organisation’s document quality management.