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How Improving Document Management Increases Business Productivity

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Increasing ROI by Implementing an Effective Document Management Strategy

No, we’re not talking about changing into your Superman costume or marking the calendar for an upcoming wedding. Imagine what you could do with an extra day every week. One workday, about eight hours, is what the average knowledge worker wastes looking for documents. That’s 20% of potential productivity spent searching for information before you can even do anything with it. Hidden inefficiencies like this definitely impact a company’s bottom line.

How can you increase productivity and reduce cost? Better document management is a start. The tips below will help you identify pitfalls and find solutions.

Hide and Seek

Thanks to current technology, the GPS in cars sends traffic alerts, smart phones put decades’ worth of movies at our fingertips, and “Google” is a verb, but locating important data in the workplace can be a very different story. Sometimes software is the issue. Employees might not be familiar with search features or maybe the application doesn’t include a search function. People struggle to find information because they can’t recall a filename or use the wrong keywords. Things get even more complicated if data is stored in different places or formats, forcing managers and support staff to hunt through files of spreadsheets, documents, images, and piles of paper. Should they check the filing cabinet or the computer down the hall?

Invoices and contracts are particular culprits because they are often processed on paper, then filed. One document may be created in Word, shared as a PDF, printed for a signature, scanned an image and attached to an email, then saved in “hard copy.” Now you’ve got multiple versions contributing to the avalanche. Employees get overwhelmed and give up.

Start with a Goal

Improving document management starts with evaluating your strategic objectives.  Review the problems that crop up most often, identifying which documents, or class of files, require routine access. Once you recognize the information disconnects, you can address these specific issues and formulate a solution.

Lead the Charge

As a business leader, you have a strong influence on the direction and culture of your organization. Even if it doesn’t always feel like it, your position as a role model can go a long way to promote the use of new document management tools. Departmental and team managers will need to show their support, too. The unified message is simple; better document storage will save time and money (which translates to a healthier overall company). Achieving these benefits is directly tied to successful deployment of improved practices. Be a champion of the project.

Social proof is a powerful tool to get others on board. Gather testimonials from industry resources or early-adopter employees who experienced a benefit and spread the word. Saving eight hours a week is great. Saving eight hours a week, times each employee, is even better!

Make it a Team Effort

Project launch:

Share the news far and wide. Let every level of your team know that document management processes are changing for the better. Be specific about the benefits of online document storage.  Include tailored encouragement for teams that will be most affected by the change, especially those who work virtually.

Implementation:

Recruit a mission leader from each department. Let them get familiar with the tool so they can help and encourage their peers. This is also a good way to enable departments with different needs to customize how they work with the new system. Include user training in a variety of formats, if possible.

Completion:

Encouraging peer training during implementation sets the foundation for ongoing support relationships.  This also gives project champions the opportunity to reinforce continued use of the new process or software, training starting users and helping their colleagues as needed.

Feedback is essential to any new system. Keep progress rolling by giving employees the opportunity to propose improvements and give insight. You can also create metrics, based on your original business objectives, to track usage and results.

Seize the Day

Once you find the right management tools, small changes can lead to big rewards. The key is involving your team so they can experience the benefits first-hand. Having those once-wasted hours back may even lead to discovering other opportunities in your company.

About the Author

Annette Jepson writes on business technology and management performance topics. She is currently researching technology trends with a focus on the Lean BPM market and JobTraQ.

Photo credit: HP Deutschland

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