How to implement a document management system

If you are thinking about implementing a document management system, it can be hard to know where to start. You know your paper-based processes are inefficient, and you understand the benefits of digital transformation. But you feel there are too many hurdles, both technologically and perhaps culturally in your organisation. If this accurately describes how you are feeling, do not worry – you are not alone.

Humans are creatures of habit, and we will happily accept the status-quo, often citing “because it’s the way we’ve always done it,” as a reasonable explanation of inefficiency. If you are reading this, no doubt these words ring true for you, as you strive to take on the challenge of implementing a document management system.

In this blog, we describe twelve steps to implement a document management system.

1. Identify one manual process you want to automate

Start simple and identify one process you wish to automate using a document management system. It is probably the process that sparked your desire to change things, so this could be a great place to start.

2. Write down the benefits of automating this process

Ask yourself the question: If I came to work tomorrow and this process was automated, what will have improved? By evaluating the positive changes, such as increased response times to customer requests, reduction in administration costs, or improved collaboration, you can build a business case for implementing a document management system.

3. Engage with stakeholders

Every successful document management implementation involves the participants in the processes. At the very least, engage with the person responsible for the process (this could be your Head of Accounts, HR or Sales), and work together.

4. Pick a department to start in

If you cannot choose one manual process because of interconnected processes, choose a department to start in instead. Accounts Payable, Sales or Human Resources are good candidates because their manual processes are usually well defined.

5. Identify your data funnels

Now you have chosen your process to automate, identify how information is funnelled into it. Are there paper documents, forms, contracts, invoices? Are there digital versions of the same coming in via email? What about phone calls, web forms or even text messages? Each point of entry offers you the opportunity to capture information intelligently, so it is searchable and usable in related business processes.

6. Find the bottlenecks

Finding the bottlenecks and removing them is the key to getting project buy-in. Look for piles of paper, or what both employees and customers find frustrating. Taking away the pain and expense of bottlenecks is the driver for most document management implementations.

7. Identify integration opportunities

Solve your data silos by integrating your document management system with other applications within your business, for example:

  • CRM to strengthen customer relationships, e.g. Microsoft Dynamics
  • ERP to accelerate financial processes, e.g. Sage or Quickbooks
  • HR Software to fully digitise all HR processes
  • Microsoft Outlook to securely archive and index email
  • Team Portals to provide information efficiently, e.g. SharePoint

8. Think outside of the box

Can you simplify your current methods of data capture? Think beyond your office walls. Could you extend capture, access, and approval processes by using mobile or cloud applications?

9. Listen to and act on feedback

By now, you will have a deep understanding of the process and improvement opportunities. It is time to design your new automated process. Simple flowchart apps are available to help you illustrate your workflows and determine how they will work.

10. Test and train

Testing is vital before implementing any document management system. By creating a test system, you can resolve outstanding issues and demonstrate progress to others in your review meetings. This is a great time to involve administrators and power-users as it helps them understand the evolution of the processes. As always, test and re-test.

11. Go live!

This is what you have been working towards. You can now celebrate and share your success with other parts of your organisation, with tangible results.

12. Establish a continuous improvement program

Periodically review and refine your initial process design. It is rare for a process to remain unchanged for a significant period of time, so keep an eye out for emerging bottlenecks and evolve to solve them.

We hope these twelve steps will help you to implement your document management system. At Managed Technology, we partner with many of the leading document management systems, helping businesses of all sizes and budgets with their digital transformation. Contact us to start a conversation about how we can help.