Even if you think you’ve got all your files under control, technology is advancing so quickly that there are always ways to improve.
However, if you’re looking for an article about online document management, the likelihood is you need help. So if you’re looking to clean up your folders, tighten up your security, and give a turbo boost to your document creation process, you’ve come to the right place.
Read on for our top tips and see how your approach to documents can make unexpected waves in your company.
Your top priority is to get the right online document management platform where you can create files, save them, structure your approach to work and more. With a solid process and the right tools for the job, your team can treat admin as second nature and concentrate on creativity.
Get your document management system online with the following features:
A collaborative document editor
A cloud-based drive to store files
A project management tool to organize tasks
Workflow technology to systemize your approach
This is not the end of the game, though. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t go from a slap-dash approach to laser-focused document management overnight.
The first file to create is your online project management system documentation that helps everybody follow the same process to maintain quality standards. This is fantastic as an introductory file for onboarding, but also for continuous training. With everybody up-to-speed on how to do their job, you can get to work.
The days of keeping your documents on hard drives or on local computers are over. As well as keeping your data far more securely and not having to make sure you're sitting at the right desk to access files, the benefits of cloud storage are numerous.
The most obvious example is that you don’t have to rely on physical hardware in the office to store all your files. More than being cumbersome and difficult, keeping your servers online can amount to a full-time role that you can easily avoid.
But it’s even more than that. Remote teams have 24/7 access to get to work at the click of a button. No matter which computer you’re on, if you have the credentials, you can access everything you’re privy to from anywhere.
Online document management also allows for mobile access. The best tools out there are easy to use for editing documents whenever you need a break from your desk. Once your files are ready, managers receive a notification on their phone to check through the doc and give it their stamp of approval.
An important part of online document management is maintaining quality control and streamlining your process. To do this, we’d recommend getting a project management tool so you can assign tasks out to the relevant people and get the ball rolling.
Start off with workflows — a series of tasks that combine together for a project. Your typical document creation workflow could include:
Text content creation
In your project management tool, each relevant person gets a notification as and when their task is ready, so they can start work in a timely manner. Once they mark their task as done, you as the manager can assign the next one, either manually or automatically.
You’ve probably got a good amount of repetitive projects that will follow the same structure every time. Therefore, you can save workflow templates and get your next project off the ground with the click of a button.
Get your team aligned with Bitrix24 document management solution. Free collaboration suite and effective project management, powerful Drive and workflow automation.
It will come as no surprise that teams running like a well-oiled machine far outperform those who go off into their silos and work independently. However, if you don’t have the right tools and processes in place, it’s often an arduous task to get your best minds together.
With collaborative documents, you put the framework in place for your staff to work together. A classic example is to have your team of writers submitting articles to your content manager who then suggests a few changes and pings it back. With the right tools, your manager’s suggestions will stand out clearly, so your team won’t have to scour the document looking for what they need to do.
Not only does this encourage fast, easy collaboration, but you also improve your quality control by reducing the moving parts involved. One article on one document with no loose versions clogging up your drive is a dream for teams juggling a lot of content on a daily basis.
As you’re collaborating, there are all kinds of tips and tricks that make the entire process smoother. One of these is tagging — simply adding a name to your comment that alerts whoever’s input you need.
Tagging within documents is excellent for grabbing the attention of those who aren’t directly involved in the creation process. If you need confirmation of dates, times, facts, or figures, you can call in a colleague for one quick confirmation before you continue writing. Your colleague will get a notification that takes them not just to the document, but to the exact line they need to work on, and before you know it, your problem is solved.
However, your tagging efforts can stretch to how you structure your online document management. Let’s say you’ve got an upcoming audit and you need to group together a bunch of files. Moving files means you won’t find them again, duplicating could lead to one being updated without another. Instead, tag each file with the word “audit” and you can quickly find them all with a quick search in your drive.
A few times in our list, we’ve referred to only storing one version of every document, and here is where we’ll explain the importance of it. If you were in the working world before online document management really took off, you’ll certainly have wasted at least a few hours in meetings discussing which version of a document has all the changes you want and none of the ones you don’t.
Rather than folders full of confusingly named files a good online document management system will include version histories. Each time someone works on a document, a version is saved within the document itself. So, if you need to jump back in time and find a loose bit of information from October last year, you can get there in just a few clicks.
Similarly, if a slip of a finger deletes an entire paragraph before the review stage, you know you can always check the last version, copy that paragraph and put it back in its place.
When it comes to document management online, one of the best practices we can recommend is to keep all your related communication within the document itself. But what do we mean by this?
Comments are the cornerstone of your communication here. Rather than sidling up to your colleague and saying something along the lines of “Hey, you know that line where you wrote the thing…”, you can link them to the exact phrase in discussion with direct instructions in your comments. They simply click the link and get all the information they need to add in their two cents.
Make in-document communication part of your company culture, from the onboarding process to keeping your veterans in check when they let standards slip. With everyone on the same page, you take the guesswork out of how changes are going to arrive, so your team can follow the same structure and send the file back as soon as possible.
As an extension of communicating within your online document, we would strongly suggest that when working with a document management system online, you avoid email chains or instant messenger discussions. The main reason is that everyone else is blind to your private channels. There’s no accessible record of what has happened, which often leads to frustration among those not in the loop.
But more than that — it’s a nightmare to navigate! Having to search through all your channels to work out why you needed to delete that sentence is a headache that nobody needs. By keeping all your changes within the document, you have a record of the what, why, when, and who of every adaptation.
Sure, you may be working with external providers who don’t know your processes, but we’d recommend getting them on board or at least, copying every email change onto your document for consistency.
More often than not, your documents are best kept under wraps, at least for part of their lifecycle. Whether it’s an exciting announcement or some top-secret plans for your business, controlling who can see your files is a large part of online document management.
Luckily, most of the best document collaboration tools these days will allow you to define access rights to keep your work away from prying eyes. This is an added level of security so that even if someone has a link to your document, they won’t be able to see what’s inside. So when you’re working with external suppliers, make sure to be vigilant before you share, and only allow access to specific email addresses.
But access rights aren’t just for keeping people out. They also play a key role in managing online documents easily, especially when it comes to giving docs the OK. Almost everything you create will need to go through a review process, and the last thing you want are some edits made after everything has been approved. Therefore, once you’ve got your final draft, lock out any itchy fingers wanting to make one last change and you’re well on your way to efficient, strategic document management online.
Now you’re comfortable with using versioning features on collaborative documents, you can happily forget about attaching files to your task management tool the traditional way. In the past, we used to send documents that were almost frozen in time. If one of your team goes on holiday, on their return the document will remain the same.
Instead, inserting a link to the document means that even if they’ve been on holiday for 10 months, they’ll come back and always open the latest version of your document. The same goes for external users. If you’ve given them access rights, they can avoid saving your files and confusing their downloads folder. Instead, they get taken immediately to the shiny new version of your doc.
As our final tip, we’d highly recommend naming someone to run the admin. Sure, you’ve created online project management system documentation, but people become forgetful and things get lax, so having someone to keep your house in order is a must.
Your admin worker should identify and consolidate duplicate files, create and update a map of your drive, and be the go-to person for anyone who has a question. They will also be responsible for maintaining the guide for new recruits to get an idea of how your online document management works. Any new best practices or missing information? Get it in there.
Apart from keeping everything easy to navigate, you’ll be truly thankful for appointing an administrator when the time comes for auditing. Rather than dropping all your normal tasks and scrambling to organize your documents, you’ll have a ready-made guide for anybody who needs access.
With our 11 tips for managing online documents easily, you should already have a good idea about how to remove confusion and let your team shine.
But without access to the best project management tools, collaborative docs, and drive, you’ll soon find yourself struggling. Bitrix24 gives you all these tools and more, so don’t delay — sign up for free today!