The Benefits of Document Management Systems

Document or content management systems (DMS) are separate cloud-based systems that specifically manage electronic data and records. DMS systems are not only for large companies. Even in smaller offices, DMS systems can effectively help organizations file, store, search and collaborate on documents that need modification and/ or tracking. Although organizing the shared drive with an electronic file hierarchy structure and establishing clear guidelines is valuable, it does require more work to manage and maintain versus having data stored in a document/ content management system.

DMS systems have more robust functions of input, storage, search, and access of data than the mere file management tools that come on computers such as Windows Explorer. DMS systems allow users to find data not only through a file hierarchy structure. These systems have additional information related to a document such as keywords, categorization, and indexing, all of which make searching and finding data much easier. It also compresses data so that it has the ability to store significant numbers of documents in a smaller amount of space, increasing server efficiency. DMS systems also have auto-archive and auto-delete functions that make adhering to record retention and compliance guidelines instantaneous.

A common file repository in a document/content management system is an opportunity to create a consistent records management system that will provide the following benefits;

  • Create ease and simplicity for users to have one centralized system to manage official records and documents.
  • Improve accessibility permissions and ease of filing electronic documents and records through one centralized system that is cloud-based and accessible via mobile devices.
  • Documents and records are automatically indexed and increased searching functionality will be available.
  • Easier access to shared information and documents within the entire organization.
  • Easier management of records retention through increased system functionality and centralized data location to manage data.
  • Easier access to collaborate on documents, manage version control and access important information quickly through one centralized access point.
  • Lays the foundation for a paperless office by reducing official paper files and increase reliance and trust on one centralized electronic system.

It is important to organize documents on the Shared Drive before being uploaded to a document management system. To learn how to organize electronic files on the shared drive, download the report How to Organize Electronic Documents on Shared Drive Networks. Or you are welcome to contact us and we can assist you.

How to Develop File Hierarchies to Organize Computer Documents

When developing a file hierarchy to organize electronic documents it is important to consider if a structure requires multiple lines of sub-directories. If so, it is best to encourage the use of short folder names to stay within the Microsoft maximum file name and path size of 255 characters. It is also important to be consistent with type cases. Some organizations might prefer all file folders in caps; whereas, others usually make the first letter of the file name cap only. File names and document names are not case sensitive within Windows or Mac systems.

The First Line: Generally, a major department or division of the organization should organize the first line of files. Often teams or departments begin creating their file structure and taxonomy with the second line of files.

The Second Line: The second line of files should be organized by the sub-structure of the division or department which includes a listing of their sub-departments, branches, and/or major functional areas. Also, the second line could include general information for the division including administration, forms, organizational charts, strategic plans, etc.

The Third and Beyond Lines: The third and beyond line of files should be organized by one of the sub-topic methods:

1. Subject; (i.e. budgets, marketing, finance)

2. Alphabetically by name; (i.e. Smith, John)

3. Chronologically; (i.e. by year)

4. Number; and (i.e. project number, contract number, policy number)

5. Geographic region (i.e. city, state, region, country)

Choose a sub-filing option that will be the first reference point to access information. For example if there is a second line folder called “Budgets,” the users could create the third line sub-file by year, by area within the department, or by location of an office. Again, it is important to choose the sub-topic method by the first reference or access point. In this example, it is more common with budgets that the first reference point is by calendar or fiscal year, but that could be different for other organizations.

To learn how to organize electronic files and the shared drive, download the report How to Organize Electronic Documents on Shared Drive Networks. Or you are welcome to contact us and we can assist you.

The Benefits of Organizing the Shared Drive

For most organizations, shared network drives on computer servers are used to store and share business documents. Every day, employees create and manage electronic information to support their work. In fact, it is estimated that 95% of all new information is still stored on network servers. In addition, most organizations permit their employees to store electronic information on a “personal” or “individual” drive that is accessible only to the individual. In addition, there are now project collaboration systems such as SharePoint and Google Sites, which also contain organization data. Managing all of this data and information efficiently and effectively can greatly improve business performance, knowledge management, and productivity.

Employees usually have been given very little guidance and information on saving, filing, deleting, and naming documents onto the shared network drives. As a result, server systems can and have reached capacity limit quickly. It is important to provide staff clear direction on file structure and where electronic records should be saved.

Having an organized shared drive will provide the following benefits for businesses and organizations:

  • Improve accessibility of data among employees and staff.
  • Provide a clear understanding of how and where to save files on the shared drive network.
  • Improve worker efficiency and productivity with quick access of current and historical files and documents.
  • Reduce duplication of files and provide clear guidelines of version control.
  • Provide easier access to collaboration with shared files and documents within the organization.
  • Improve clarity and ease for new employees to access important information quickly.
  • Lay the foundation for a paperless office by reducing official paper files and increase reliance on electronic file system.
  • Improve the corporate memory and maintain important history when employees leave the organization.
  • Become prepared for a transfer to a document or content management system such as Microsoft SharePoint or Documentum.

To learn how to organize electronic files and the shared drive, download the report How to Organize Electronic Documents on Shared Drive Networks. Or you are welcome to contact us and we can assist you.