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Document Management Best Practices for your Organization

Eric Czerwonka Eric Czerwonka  |  
Apr 05, 2017
Security seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and for good reason.  We have all seen the media coverage of the high-profile security breaches.  If you are aware of the pending Yahoo sale and their recently reported security breach it was reported that the deal was discounted $350 million dollars due to the breach.  Sometimes it can be hard to quantify how much a security breach costs an organization.  In this case it is black and white.  Some experts argued that Yahoo should have been penalized more than a third of a billion dollars. 
Now we are all not Yahoo, in size or practice.  However, we all have some type of sensitive data and we should all understand that document management is the new way of life.  So how should your organization attempt to manage the documents they use, produce, and share?
There are 3 types of workflows that should be considered in most document management situations.  They are:
  1. Document Storage
  2. Collaboration
  3. Sharing
Document Storage
Most documents are at rest.  You can’t use (typically) more than a few documents at the same time, but they still need to be kept safe, kept private, and controlled.  For this you’ll need a solution for storage.  This does not mean backup storage or offsite archiving, this is storage that you can work out of and still have control of your documents.  Many solutions exist for storage that are outside of a Windows File Share.  They all come with pros can cons.  So how do you choose?
You’ll want to look at your organization’s workflows, or how they use documents.  How are documents produced?  What types of software produces them?  How long are they kept?  Is there a lifecycle?  What is important about the documents?  Do you need to version control documents or know who last edited the document?  Do the documents need specific security so only a subset of internal users need access to them?
Answers to these questions will drive your decision on what type of software you’ll need.  Most solutions will not be a perfect fit as each business will have unique needs.  However many times software will get close enough to meet your most important needs.

Once documents are created they can then be collaborated on, either internally or externally.  However your document storage solution most likely will not support your requirements for collaboration, especially external collaboration.  How are your customers or clients going to review and approve a document?  Do they need to make changes to it?  Do they need long term access to the documents?  Who is responsible for keeping the various versions of the documents?
Answers to these questions typically lead you to use of a separate tool for collaboration.  The tool will have features specific to collaboration but not necessarily all the requirements of document storage.  Keep them separate.  This also helps with internal workflows of what to put where.  A collaboration tool will only be used for working documents.  Final documents should be kept in your document storage solution.  A large part of any document management solution is the understanding, use, and acceptance of it in your organization.  By having this clear split it will help your organization adapt to document management.

Documents do not always live with you and with the organization.  Sometimes they are sent off as final deliverables to a 3rd party, perhaps your client.  Your collaboration tool and your document storage mechanism will not be specialized for sharing these documents.  Therefore, you need a 3rd tool to share the documents securely.  Sending documents via unsecured email can be standard practice in some organizations, however unsecured email is unacceptable in today’s world of security.
There are tools created specifically for sharing.  You’ll want to ask your organization the same types of probing questions, such as – what types of documents do you need to share?  How big are they?  How long does the recipient of the messages need them?  Do you need a record of what was sent?  Do you need a record of who received them?
Finding a solution do document management is a challenge that many organizations face.  However, once you identify all of your wants, needs and specific workflows of your organization you can begin to identify the tools that will shape your solution.  Good luck!
AgileBusiness Analysis


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