In the age of email and other electronic data, it can be difficult to remain organized. Information and documents now come in many forms. Gone are the days of receiving letters or faxes in hard copy. Emails come in thick and fast every day, and you send out as many as you receive. More often than not, businesses don’t even turn their mind to document management systems. They fail to recognize that it can promote daily efficiency, as you’ll save time getting your hands on key documents.
Document management is critical to a dispute and being able to identify crucial documents (and doing so promptly) is key. It can be the difference between winning or losing your matter!
So what is document management?
A document management system is a system or process or creating, capturing, storing, retrieving and managing documents in both hard and soft copy formats.
What makes a good document management system?
Implementing a document management system does not need to be particularly ‘fancy’ or sophisticated. It just requires planning and organization. Here we provide some tips to help:
- Documents and information should be organised by the subject matter or project;
- Only retain hard copies when the law requires to do so. Try to create and store documents in digital softcopy format where you can;
- Try to create and store your documents and information in the same location and where there are multiple users. Also, try to restrict where they can create and store their documents;
- Try to ensure all electronic files, laptops, personal devices (like mobile phones) and backup tapes are secured;
- Guide your staff members to make sure they keep relevant documents in the correct location and the correct format;
- Have a document retention period system, so documents aren’t just deleted as a matter of process; and
- Conduct regular audits to ensure you (or your staff) are maintaining your document management system.
I’ve got a million other things going on with my business, why do I need to do this too?
We know that running a small to medium business involves a lot of time and money, and what you don’t need is another thing to do. The greatest incentive you may experience from a document management system is the improved internal efficiency of running your business. Imagine no more searching for documents! Information can be easily found!
As a bonus, if you are involved in any type of dispute, then you are well placed to be ‘dispute ready’. This can help you avoid:
- significant costs gathering and collecting your documents;
- costs of retrieving documents from backup tapes and other sources; and
- significant delays involved in the gathering of documents.
Having a document management system in place just makes good business sense. For advice and guidance on how to implement a document management system, you should seek advice from a commercial solicitor. LegalVision will provide you with advice at a fixed-fee so that you know what you’re paying from the outset.