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How to Understand Your Document Management Problem

Written by Sandra Larson on 6 September 2019

Document management is a vast topic and concept, and if you are looking to find out more about it, then you can benefit from the numerous articles, white papers, presentations, and books among others available that define document management system and technology.

Nonetheless, there are several ones that are dedicated towards the best business department or processes to refer to for the initial solution. In numerous instances, firms purchase document management solutions without any clear objectives in place-besides the general statements on automation of business processes, paper elimination, finding documents as well as having enhanced Intra and interdepartmental communications and sharing.

In numerous instances, a firm will usually purchase a solution to identify the real problem. Let’s reverse this thinking…

Where, Then Should You Begin?

According to an excerpt as posted on an online assignment help website page, every company has its distinct document-related concerns, and as such, there is no wrong or right place to begin. Usually, the answer may significantly depend on various issues, including current issues, your needs, as well as your inclination to adopt new technology. In essence, your focus should not just be on the department that is considered ‘weak link’ because they may feature more significant issues than typical records management.

The initial step is listing all departments that are in your firm as well as their probable business applications. It is essential you keep in mind that one department can have several applications which are different and separate from each other. For instance, the company’s finance department can include accounts payable, payroll, financial controls, corporate financial planning, accounts receivable, procedures and policies, auditing, financial controls and such. All the functions mentioned above could utilize document management system for different purposes.

Standard companies have the following departments:

  • Human Resources
  • Accounting/ Finance
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Sales
  • Legal
  • Engineering
  • Administrative Offices /Executive
  • Marketing
  • Contract Management /Procurement
  • Manufacturing

There can also be specific processes in a department like funding and applications for a bank loan. Underwriting, policies, insurance applications, lab or clinical documentation, manufacturing production or product documentation, construction management, among other applications and processes specific to your firm.

Understanding What Your Document Management Problem Is

Even before you go out and purchase a distinct document management solution, there is a need to start by researching the various document-related concerns you have. Below are several significant areas you can review for every department:

List every document type for every department: This can include electronic, paper, fax, among many others.

Hold discussions with the line of business personnel and subject matter professionals: To get a clear picture of the unique document management concerns as well as the most significant document hurdles each of them face daily.

Catalog both the number of individuals and departments within the firm and every department. When you begin to communicate with vendors, you will find that they are interested in these statistics.

Identify and outline all the line of business and back-office systems in your organization. Usually, this can include HR systems (SAP/HRM/ADP), SAP (accounting software systems) legal systems (like Serengeti), sales systems (like Salesforce), and engineering systems (Teamcenter) among other methods utilized in a department. One of the most useful tools you can use here is IT as they manage these particular systems on their servers.

Departments have concerns sharing documents within a department: Several common concerns are the inability to locate the document in the specified location, file sharing restrictions, sharing documents through email attachments, or even lack permissions for document editing.

Numerous firms also find it difficult to share documents among their departments: Take this for instance, if the marketing department is supposed to write a new product datasheet and needs to work with sales and engineering to collect the essential documentation and information. In such case, it is likely that each of these departments is not able to share documents across their various file share provisions, therefore make use of email attachments in transferring the documents as is required.

Most firms work with outside contractors, vendors, consultants, among others, subsequently mandating for every party to share documents. Basically, this is performed through an FTP site (their or yours), email attachments, or even cloud-sharing sites such as Dropbox. Such approaches are ineffective and can create confusion around valid formats of the specific document said to be shared. Moreover, every time documents leave the organization's servers; security concerns accompany this.

Usually, when sharing documents through email, files that generally took about 1mb worth of storage space can go on to take up to about 10mb since each user is continually sending on the document to the next recipient, occupying space within the mailbox, while also keeping local copies in their specific file shares. Eventually, the document’s ‘last version’ gets tricky to identify and may mandate for some comprehensive research to determine any concerns or even locate the document’s last version.

Check business procedures in which documents are routed around the firm manually for comments, approvals, or several actions like updates to databases.

Some other areas within your firm you can review include adherence to regulations, ability to scan (paper) documents to eradicate paper storage, deleting documents in line with retention schedules, or even enhanced security for various documents (like files that contain personally identifiable data).


After having evaluated all the areas above, there is a need to organize them according to the most significant need and subsequently prioritize the concerns that pose the greatest efficiencies or ROI (return on investment) to be amassed. As earlier mentioned, there is virtually no wrong or right place to begin, you can nonetheless understand the concern, and you can start checking for the ideal solution.

Author's Bio: Sandra Larson is an accredited freelance writer specializing in policy and urban issues. She is also a practising policy analyst. In her free time, you will find Sandra reading and listening to music

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