Business Processes Compliance with SharePoint Automation

SharePoint is one of the most widespread and mature document management systems. When we discuss “collaboration,” what often comes to mind is the sharing of a document for revision and approval. This certainly does occur on the enterprise level, but the needs of business go far beyond this capability: often there is a complex workflow of interaction and triggers between people with different responsibilities and distributed among different departments. When these processes are left as informal, there are often lags in productivity cause by confusion, limited employee bandwidth, and resistance to the process. The advantage of SharePoint – and what makes it one of the top choices for enterprise – is the ability to automate processes so that they are codified in the very way in which personnel interact with documents. This is largely thanks to SharePoint’s built-in workflow capabilities and PowerShell administrator commands. Let us look at the example of a firm that has the requirement to send a periodic report to a third-party.

  • The document may require the approval of several different boards, each made up of an approved collection of members (who could even have assigned emergency delegates – just to give a more realistic sense of the complications involved).
  • These boards may be assembled from quality assurance, supply chain, finance, and any number of disparate groups.
  • Documents contain metadata that can signal when each board has signed off.
  • Email alerts can notify all the stakeholders at each point in the approval process.
  • When a user attempts to check in the document, its current state can be checked against whether or not it is on the list of approvers.
  • When all criteria have been met, the document can be safely checked in for final release, and can even be distributed to any number of key recipients or placed in a special repository.

The possibilities are nearly endless and can be adapted to all of the varied needs of a business.

Success with Document Management Systems for Software Projects

Almost every form of enterprise produces some form of work output that is usually document-based. This is especially true in the heavier forms of engineering such as aerospace, military, or medical in which the auditing and accounting requirements are high. No one wants to confront an ISO or federal audit and not be able to point to business procedures and work products that have been tested against a replicable quality process. In most commercial branches of software, especially web-enterprise and IT, documentation often takes the form of wikis or informal design files that are scattered around some agreed upon repository. Often if such documents exist they may even be stored in the code repository itself. In fact, in methodologies such as Agile or Extreme Programming there is sometimes the ethic that “the code is the documentation.” However, neither methodology formally shuns maintaining documentation but rather recommends keeping it spare. From these observations we can then ask what the proper balance a software firm should strike between heavy document management and none whatsoever. Documentation, especially when rapid development is employed, is especially susceptible to skew with the code and can become outdated quickly. Therefore it takes a well-designed document management system to maintain productivity. An effective way to manage modern software documentation is to break it down as followsPre-Development Documentation This phase is devoted to functional specifications, user stories, and relationship diagrams. The emphasis is on the high levels of what needs to be completed without locking in implementation details or sacrificing any of the flexibility needed to handle sudden requirements changes.

Documentation During Development Much of the documentation during the development phase can actually be generated by the framework or runtime with which the project is implemented. However, the products created in this phase still need storage and ease of access.   Post-Development Documentation Much of this documentation will be of the customer-facing variety: end-user documentation such as user interface manuals. This documentation should be easily accessed by management and non-technical teams.When the documentation is broken down in such a manner, it becomes spare, easy to sift through, and readily suited for any number of enterprise document management systems.

Businesses Use Document Management Systems To Keep Their Documents Organized

Who uses document management systems?

You’ve probably not heard of document management systems, unless you work within an organization that already has one. It’s not a system that is very popular with consumers as they don’t have much daily use for it. It is, however, very integral to businesses that store files and need an easy what to management them all.

These are some attributes of document management systems. Not all systems have all of the features listed. You should verify with the solutions you are looking at.

Document imaging
Text search
Multi-user access
Backup and restore

The better DMS’s will have these features

The will focus mainly on documents, although some will be able to store other file types, such as images, movies, etc.

Documents can be grouped together.

The DMS will allow you to archive documents and even place expiration dates on them.

A very powerful feature is being able to integrate a business’ workflow into the management of these documents.

Good DMS’s will have many levels of security. It will be able to secure a single document, groups and/or folders of documents, and many other types of security.

Some DMS’s will excel at providing web page views for each document.

An important aspect to note is that there is not really any relationship among documents, not in the same way content management systems would have.

There is some overlap with other management systems, such as content management systems, enterprise content management systems, digital asset management, and document imaging. It’s important to know the difference among each one if you are thinking of adding any of them into your organization.

Image credit: Grace

Document management systems help office efficiency

In an effort to be environmentally responsible, most workplaces are going toward paperless offices. Physical filing cabinets are disappearing and workstations are replacing them.

Everything that ever went inside a folder in the cabinet drawer now goes inside a folder online for storage. Unless a document management system is in place, some – or all – of this material will be lost forever.

The Paperless Office

The time has finally come to embrace a paperless office. The numbers of people working remotely is rising around the world. Company headquarters could be miles away.

document management system would allow certain workers to access information from a remote location. Keeping this in mind, today’s paperless office will likely be tomorrow’s people-less office making document management very important.

The world is moving toward this scenario faster than ever. Issues of privacy and security are best in the hands of experts who can develop a working document management system. This is the tool that firms and companies use to organize vital information and keep it safe and secure.

On the Road to Office Efficiency

When a document retrieval system is tracking correctly from the beginning, workers with access should be able to obtain needed information quickly and efficiently. A document management operation tracks files and has ability to speed completion of projects. Office efficiency and productivity increases when information is easily accessible.

The hardest decision will be the choice of firm to change physical documents into copies. Some firms specialize in industry storage and retrieval while others employ specialists from each industry to supervise the transition process. The hiring of a firm to undertake this transition will be contingent upon the depth of security the information requires.

Meaningful Process

A document management system has the objective of environmental responsibility and office efficiency. The depth of security must match industry standards and appropriate levels of confidentiality. Certain parts of the process apply to each document:

  • Scan physical document into system
  • Devise and use a document management system beneficial to both the industry and the company under conversion
  • Name and label folders to identify documents

Healthcare and technology are two of the most vulnerable industries that demand protection. Decisions for clearance of certain individuals need thoughtful determination as to who has access to certain documents.

Additional procedures that most document management systems provide are:

  • Follow historical lineage of any document
  • Bring together individual files, form a relationship between them and establish a coded folder that is easy to find
  • Identify and link documents
  • Give new folders unique codes indicating the security level that accompanies it

System access is available to workers at various security levels and only those workers know the code for their level. CMS Crunch document management service helps to implement the system and can establish efficiency within an organization. The result is a higher level of productivity, which is evident to clients, patients or customers.

Keeping Your Information Secure With Document Management Systems

Information security is a top concern for any business. Paper documents can be subject to loss or theft. It can be challenging if not impossible to secure physical paper documents. The best document management systems provide multiple layers of security to safeguard documents. Following are some of the security features that good document management systems should provide.

One keystone in a secure document management system is a structure for granting access. This means that employees would be allowed to only view or edit documents that pertain to their position. Some employees may be permitted to only view documents while others might be allowed to edit.

Another important component of a good document management system is its anti-virus, firewall and anti-spyware software. This software will provide continuous protection from internet related security threats such as computer viruses and hackers. Regular software updates will address any new security threats.

Data encryption will help to protect data as it is transmitted over the network. Data backups will ensure that valuable data can be restored in the event of a disaster.

In addition to the security features provided by the electronic document management system, there are steps that businesses can take to protect their data. Some of these are; creating organizational policies, conducting periodic security reviews and employee security training.

Organizational policies will help define who should have access to what data. As an example, a data entry person should not need access to accounts payable information. A graphic designer should only need access to photos and advertising copy. These policies should also address how often passwords need to be changed.

It is a good idea to review security procedures on a regular basis. This can help an organization to improve its security policies and protocols.

Employee security training is an essential part of a good security plan. Training should cover individual security measures such as logging out of the system when a person leaves their station. Employees should know how often to change their passwords, and how to create secure passwords. They should also be instructed not to write down passwords.

Investing in a good document management system is a crucial first step toward document security. The next step is creating organizational policies and practices that enhance security. A business that takes both of these steps will be well on its way toward protecting that most valuable asset, its data.

Document Management Systems Adapting to Mobile

The advantages of document management systems for businesses are that they improve sharing, security, organization, and versioning of business-critical documents. With the prevalence of business-issued mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and the newer popularity of “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD), document management systems must become adaptable for sharing documents on more than just desktops and the company intranet. The modern work environment is hectic and often distributed. There are many situations in which access to a document may be an imperative, such as at an emergency meeting or at a business lunch. Let’s take a look at how this shift toward mobile-inclusion is shaping up.

Microsoft’s SharePoint, for example, has out-of-the-box views for mobile. SharePoint can also be used in conjunction with frameworks, mobile web apps, or even native apps to adapt user portals that make it effective for working with data on different devices. Ultimately, it stands to reason that as new editions of SharePoint are released, they will incorporate some of the customization and adaptability for mobile that is typically done with third-party utilities.

What is also notable about mobile adaptations for document management systems is that they introduce potential capabilities for which such systems are not traditionally adapted. Document management systems evolved around the capabilities of the desktop, which meant fairly straightforward storage, retrieval, editing, and versioning of data files. However, since mobile devices have convenient camera and geolocation capabilities this extends the possibilities of what document management can achieve. For instance, in the logistics sector, packages can come with a QR code which can be scanned on delivery which will automatically update documentation and launch the next step in the delivery process. This is just one of many examples of how mobile can not only enhance existing situations but also address needs that have never been thought of in the context of documentation management.

Avoiding Common Document Management System Implementation Traps

Document management systems make the management of data across organizations hassle free. The automated processes of document management systems take care of important information of your organization. However, you need to choose and implement any solution astutely to reap the benefits of this system. Many organizations are not able to utilize the true benefits of a document management system because of the flaws in choice and implementation of a document management system. Let us discuss some of the most common document management system implementation traps and mistakes.

1. Not involving end users in system selection and implementation process:

A lot of failed implementations of document management systems are a result of this mistake. Organizations ignore the views of end users in choosing and implementing a document management system. This results in unfitting priorities, flawed planning, inadequate training and no value addition in the organization.

All the potential end users from different departments should be involved in the process of research, planning and implementation of a document management system. If you only involve managers and ignore the end users, then you are making a big mistake. The management will not use the system on a day to day basis. It is the administrative staff, legal staff and other relevant users that will use the system all the time. Therefore, make them part of the selection, implementation and training processes if you want an ultra-successful implementation of the system.

2. Assigning the selection and implementation responsibilities to the IT department:

Most organizations leave the choice and implementation of document management systems on IT personnel. There is no doubt about the fact that IT department plays a vital role in choosing and implementing any system. However, they are not the end users. A document management system is a tool for business and relevant departments should be given every chance to take part in the analysis, design and implementation of this system. In this way, the system will provide utmost benefits to the business.

3. Underestimating the work load during the implementation of a new system:

This is one of the most common mistakes made by the managers and supervisors during implementation of new systems, including the document management system. In the context of document management system implementation, most managers are unable to estimate the work load during the transition to a new system. This may result in chaos as the deadline of transition from old system to new system approaches.

The employees might need to work over time to process decades of documents during the final stages of the implementation. Contracts and legal documents are no joke. They will need proper care in handling and temporary staff or clerks may not be the right personnel to do this critical job during the final stages of implementation of a new system. Therefore, it is very important that managers and subordinates do not take the implementation and transition process lightly. They should allocate proper time and resources for ensuring smooth transition.

4. Underestimating the training needs of employees.

Nobody likes change and it is unwise to expect that employees will gleefully start using a new document management system from Day One. Employees will need proper guidance and training before they can use the system as expected. The best approach would be to introduce the new system in few departments at one time. This way you will be able to train the employees properly. Start with the departments that are expected to use the system extensively.

Remember, people are change resistant. So, you should start the training by highlighting the advantages of the new system. Then, you should also explain the document flow process to your employees in a detailed way. This will help them understand the importance of a new tool and they will take interest in learning and adopting the new system. If you involve your employees form the beginning, then this move will also help you in smooth transition. You should also note down the feedback from the end users and incorporate changes in the early stages of implementation. This will help you avoid frustration in the final stages.

A successful system implementation is the one that is driven by the employees and not the other way round. Therefore, it is important that your employees feel comfortable during the whole process of implementation of a document management system. This will help you get the most out of the brand new document management system in your organization.

Document Management Systems Go To The Cloud

The concept of document management systems usually elicits thoughts of endless streams of text stored away in a massive online system. However, today’s content, especially when referenced in the enterprise world, can also indicate rich audiovisual presentations as well as digitized materials from just about every source.

According to MS Dynamics World, zettabytes of information, were created by the world. By 2020, it is projected that 50 times that amount will be produced. Storage of all of that information will certainly be a growing dilemma. So just where is all of this content going to be stored in a secure way where it can be accessed quickly and easily?

This is where the cloud can help enterprise content management. With a hybrid cloud storage, a combination of public and private storage solutions can be used to manage content. In this situation, file sharing capabilities are granted to employees for access to the content they need. Files in the cloud can be more easily managed since they all reside in one organized location rather than being fragmented in separate systems with their own security levels.  Content storage in the cloud allows for more efficient collaboration. Users can view, update, and share content from their desktops anywhere and anytime.

Many companies have caught onto content storage in the cloud. In a study by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), 42 percent of those companies surveyed have developed plans to deploy content to the cloud with 20 percent planning on moving all of their content.

It’s plain to see how cloud content management systems can help solve the information overload problem. They can be rapidly deployed at a reasonable cost, do not need capital funds since they are subscription-based, have pre-built applications, and the content is more secure.

It’s no wonder that analyst firm Gartner states that cloud providers to grow faster than on-premise enterprise content management software vendors

Visit our website for more information and news on content management systems.

Document Management System Benefits for a Business

Unfortunately, many businesses are continuing to function on a day to day basis with physical paper files and documents. This very confusing and time consuming method of maintaining vital records is actually not necessary at all. Today, any business can fully expect to find reliable document management systems able to address all their previous paper needs.

A document management system can efficiently transform the way a business runs overnight. The benefits of implementing such an effective record managing process provides a business with significant savings in both finances and time. In general, any document management system is ultimately intended to store, monitor, track, and uphold effective security levels of critical electronic records that were previously maintained in the inconvenient and traditional paper form.

Most businesses are actually discovering that there are governmental regulations requiring them to follow very specific procedures and guidelines to properly maintain their documents. Many business financial records must be kept electronically to provide sufficient evidence that these important legal records are completely accurate and have not been altered in any way at all. For any business that must follow such strict regulations, a document management system is the most efficient solution ensuring that all compliances are met.

A business experiences cost savings by implementing a document management system in multiple ways. The maintenance of physical files often requires a company to employee at least one full time worker to file and retrieve necessary business documents. An appropriate electronic managing process eliminates the need to designate an employee to this time consuming duty. A business can also fully expect to be freed from the need to provide sufficient storage space for bulky paper documents. Therefore, the company benefits from a massive decrease in overhead.

Experienced and established professionals overwhelmingly agree that any business needs to take the security of all records very seriously. Unfortunately, threats to the safety of maintained documents exist both in an outside of the business. A reliable management system will provide a business with multiple layers of security ensuring that all records and files are fully protected.

Managing Your Data Responsibly and Effectively

Successful companies treat stored data as an asset and therefore take steps to manage it well. Data can give any business an edge over its competition, provided they can store and leverage it with confidence and competence. Well-managed data possesses three main qualities: accuracy, security, and proper usage.

Even the most accurate data ages poorly. Because old data will waste resources and potentially alienate the customer, businesses must engage in regular and reliable data cleansing and profiling. Data cleansing describes the process of creating and maintaining accurate, relevant, and streamlined information. Data profiling functions as a pre-requisite to cleansing by making by compiling statistics from the company’s existing data sources. An in-depth data profile can identify anomalies and outliers as well as provide tags, keywords, and categories.

Once the data profile has granted an understanding of the data’s composition, the business is in the ideal position to engage in data cleansing. The process of cleansing involves four steps:

  • Field Formatting – Serves as a means to standardize terms and format, avoiding unwieldy and inconsistent formatting.
  • Component Partitioning – Further refines standardization by breaking data into smaller chunks such as names, purchasing history, contact information, etc. This enhances quality automation.
  • Content Checks – Act as a safeguard against improperly defined fields and erroneous data.
  • Duplicate Removal – Deletion of duplicate data sets to improve efficiency.

The processes of data profiling and cleansing should repeat as necessary, though the exact timeframe will vary according to a company’s needs and its data’s nature. As an additional safeguard, businesses can employ a data quality firewall to validate new data upon entry.

Businesses naturally seek to protect data assets without compromising performance and so employ both internal and external security measures. While there exist many options for server security, data tends to be more vulnerable to internal threats like disgruntled employees, lost access keys, or lax usage policies. While these threats cannot be eliminated, businesses can mitigate them by using and enforcing a central point of authorization.

The final point of proper data management involves its proper use, otherwise known as data governance. Good governance clearly dictates the company’s set of rules regarding data usage. These rules cover elements like inter-departmental sharing rules, data privacy regulations, frequency of updates and maintenance and assignment of teams to those tasks, and data monitoring, among others. Large enough companies will often create a Data Steward position to guard against unsound practices and ensure proper use.

Accurate, safe, and adequately governed data can reduce operational costs while giving the company a competitive edge over its rivals. Data forms as much as a company asset as finances and personnel, and like any asset, it requires nurturing, protection, and attention to be of any use.

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