For serious entrepreneurs and managers, you’ll reach a point in your business when corporate document management becomes an issue of concern. Are you going to keep mounds of papers and manilla folders laying around? Will you have room for more filing cabinets? Should those filing cabinets be lockable and fireproof? How much will they cost? After 10 years of being in business, will you need to procure off-site secure filing cabinet storage for older documents? We have these conversations all the time because they are such a minuscule part of the business that it often get’s overlooked until the volume of documents creates a situation that can’t be ignored.
Entrepreneurs from previous generations love their paper and have become accustomed to grasping something physical. On the flip side of that familiarity comes the tradition of losing, damaging, and forgetting those physical pieces of paper. Some of which have sensitive customer information or personal passwords that are a pain to recover.
For those generations, few will be willing to embrace a digital transformation and will eventually find modern business practices unfathomable to the point that they stipend their prospect of gaining an operational edge over their generational competitors.
For those of you willing and wanting to make a digital transformation we recommend the following structure and procedures for managing corporate documents and access:
1) Setup A Cloud Storage Account using Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive
Summary: Small and mid-sized businesses are good use-cases for Google Drive and Microsoft Onedrive. Larger organizations with more complex operations and hierarchy may require enterprise cloud storage solutions like Oracle Document Management Solutions. In the case of small and medium-sized businesses, its best to use the platform that easily integrates with your email provider.
2) Determine Your Organizational Hierarchy and Access & Restriction Policies
Summary: Not all team members need access to all folders or files. However, in almost all cases, there should be more than one trusted team member with admin access and thus access to all files and folders. Things happen, and if the one person with admin access leaves and or stops taking calls or texts, everyone else will be left on stuck and not able to do their job.
3) Develop SOPs for Onboarding & Offboarding Team Members
Summary: Without written procedures in place, important steps may be forgotten and may require someone to stop what they are doing to address the issue in the near future. Write down who, when and how a team member will be given access or have their access revoked from your cloud storage platform. In most cases, team members will need to have a dedicated email and password that they use to log into the cloud storage platform for individual access or department access.
4) Categorize and Create Top Level Folders
Summary: We’ve provided a general template for categorizing your cloud storage folders in the cloud for easy searching and access. Your organization may require more or fewer folders than we created. You may also want to bring certain sub-folders to the top levels due to the frequency of access.
5) Digitize Paper Documents
Summary: Most of the vendors and customers you already deal with are likely well into their digital transformation phase and are already utilizing digital platforms to produce invoices, purchase orders, quotes, catalogs, and the like. So one step of your digitizing process is as simple as downloading their documents from their online platforms or email attachments. The second step of your digitizing process may require you to purchase a quality high-volume document scanner like this Canon document scanner with two-sided scanning. Some software will allow you to pre-select the cloud storage folder to save files in and some will allow you to do this selection afterward. After the conversion, those documents are stored safely in the cloud. If you have concerns that those digital files will become inaccessible, then there are bigger problems going on in the world.
6) Grant Access and Enforce Policies
Summary: The initial access granting procedure can be the first test of your onboarding protocol so it’s important to keep note of any bottlenecks that occur. The actual act of granting access to cloud storage folders is as simple as clicking a folder, clicking the share icon, and then typing the name of the individual you would like to have access to said folder. However, bottlenecks can occur if you have a significant amount of folders and team members who need access. In this case, a solution would be to create groups or departments and grant entire departments access to folders. Once you have a system in place that works, it’s important for those responsible for granting or revoking access to be on the same page and be diligent in adhering to the protocols in place. They should not have to be constantly reminded of policies, they should be professionals who are consistently referring to the documentation created by the stakeholders until they know it by heart.
7) Test and Optimize
Summary: The ultimate goal is to make this new tool align with your operating procedures. Implementing it can be time-consuming, so abandoning the digital transformation project without giving it an opportunity to evolve into a system that works is indicative of your organization’s ability to set goals and achieve them.