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Can document management help companies deal with the unstructured data deluge?

September 2012 - Information is the foundation of any business. In fact often the ability to achieve strategic business goals is virtually impossible without the extensive use of business information. Then why is trying to find the best guidelines in document management often a blind attempt to make it through a maze? This is according to, Salome van Jaarsveld, National Key Accounts Manager at Tidy Files, one of the leading providers of end-to-end filing solutions.

Information is the lifeblood of every company.  Like a robust heart in a healthy body, the flow of information should be channelled into a safe, efficient system. If there is a leak, the health of the whole entity is compromised and the effects can be dire. The truth is that efficient document management saves both time and space. It provides clarity for staff to work more efficiently, enhances structure and operational capabilities. And most importantly - it improves the bottom line.

Inefficient filing and record keeping result in higher costs. A filing system that saves time and improves efficiency should become a strategic  operational priority for every company in South Africa.

The objectives of an accurate record management or filing system are to drive efficiency and improve staff productivity that result in significant savings in terms of cost and space, ensuring easy retrieval and prevention of loss of any information.

Today time is a constraint as well as a wasted commodity, often spent searching for misplaced company files and folders. To save time wherever possible, it is important to have information readily available for when it is needed. Efficiency can be greatly improved if staff are able to access and deliver documents to executives immediately.

A recent study undertaken by the Darnell Business Institute and the American Record Management Association on the cost of housing and maintaining company records, revealed that possible costs can include the salaries and payrolls of employees directly involved in the filing task (up to 82.14%); the office rental for space used by records (5.64%);  the cost of cabinets and shelving (2.11%); stationery costs of new and replacement files, as well as overhead costs associated with keeping records—such as fumigation and fire protection.

The Independent German Institute in Hamburg conducted a series of time evaluations on the factors involved in the filing operations for different filing methods, it was shown that our integrated filing and retrieval system can reduce time involved in the handling of records by up to 50%.

That is why companies worth their salt work hard to do things right the first time. Of course each company is different and solutions vary, but a process is vital if you want to ensure you meet strategic outcomes. Especially if part of your strategy is wanting to keep operating costs down.

One of the first steps for a company to prioritise when developing a filing or document management system is to get “buy-in” from staff at every level of the company.

Try a brain-storming meeting with every staff member who creates, uses or stores documents. How does the company currently utilise and manage filing? Try to identify common problems, listen to staff frustration—keep an open mind to creative or innovative solutions.

Focus on questions that will get the staff talking, engaging their collective perspective on your company’s current document storage system. Is there a consistent process used by all staff members for labelling documents? What information is contained in the label and is it enough? Do you know where your documents are stored? If it is an electronic document, for example, is it fairly easy for staff members to know where a document should be saved? And how easy is it to find a saved document?

We believe that a quality system approach is the key to managing information effectively. All Tidy Files solutions are customised to a client’s unique needs, providing the optimum control of records from creation through to final disposal - ensuring that the client saves time, space and money.  The flexibility and adaptability built into all the Tidy Files systems allow for the effective management of records at every stage of the document’s life cycle, while accommodating the needs of the future.

The key to a good document management system is to avoid a crisis rather than recover from a crisis. It is so much more than a mere admin function. It is there to protect your business, your brand.  But investing a little time and money into data storage solutions today will give any company peace of mind.

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