At some point, you don’t realize how convoluted your document management system has become until your bring on a new hire and watch them struggle through labyrinthine folder structures. Or perhaps ping-ponging the working version of a file (v.4 final FINAL) as an email attachment is getting ridiculous, with duplicated versions sitting on the network drive and local machines.
But fortunately, like most things in IT, there is a better way.
Determine your Needs and Scope
Depending on the size of your business, adopting a new document management system can seem like an insurmountable task. But if done right, the time savings can be incredible.
To avoid getting overwhelmed, it’s often good to start with an overview of your current situation. Ask questions like:
- Are your files hosted on physical hardware or the cloud?
- Who creates new documents?
- Is scanning a part of the workflow?
- What documents need to be shared, and which groups need access?
- Are related documents interlinked?
- Do people understand how to save and find documents?
In some cases, it’s good to ask these questions to your team in person – the day-to-day workings and methods your staff have adopted may have changed since your existing system was implemented.
Why Choose SharePoint?
Amongst the available document hosting solutions, we find Microsoft’s SharePoint offers a number of key benefits and integration that make it easy to adopt and deploy. Instead of setting up network drives or storing documents on their local machines, your employees need only sync up with SharePoint. It’s the cloud-hosted online document system that enables organizations to grant access to files by need, and it minimizes the configuration, networking and permission issues that can tie up internal IT staff.
Office 365 Integration
But the biggest benefit is how well it integrates with Office 365. Users can access SharePoint files on their desktop, laptop, and even their mobile devices, whether on-site, travelling, or working at home. Users can edit files directly in a web browser, or download them to make use of the more feature-rich Office applications installed on their local machines.
But get this – even when editing on their machine, changes are automatically being saved to the cloud, ensuring there is only one version of the file – the current version. And with a built-in versioning system to track changes, you can always go back to an earlier iteration to recover something that may have inadvertently been deleted or written over.
SharePoint also features a sophisticated metadata system that enables you to really leverage the benefits of cloud computing, enabling you to describe and categorize and quickly access files through the powerful search feature, rather than laboriously clicking subfolder after subfolder to get to them.
Migrating your Data to SharePoint
Once you’ve made the decision to move to the cloud, you’ll need to undergo a data migration. And if you’ve got years of archival documents in mismatched folders, it can seem a bit overwhelming.
This proactive step means you are investing in improving your future productivity and security – you’ll be able to revisit and update employee access and permissions, and should your company be subject to an audit, it will be much easier to locate, retrieve, and submit required documents.
The migration is opportunity to really clean things up and start fresh – but to realize the benefits, it’s important to educate and enforce best practices to ensure bad habits don’t carry over into the new system.
One suggestion would be to develop document management training and distribute key reference materials to your staff on topics such as file naming, tagging and file organization will go a long way to ensure you realize the available benefits.
Seek out a Cloud Computing Partner
For over 20 years Discovernet has been helping businesses improve productivity by streamlining systems and processes – including document management. If your business is considering moving over to SharePoint and would like assistance with the migration project, we can help!
We can also provide organizations with additional cloud solutions and well as end-to-end Managed IT Services. If you're interested in any of these, we'd be happy to meet with you to discuss how to build a solution that meets your needs.