The days of paper might be over, but document management is going nowhere

The days of paper might be over, but document management is going nowhere

Organisation is vital to every organisation – the clue is in the name, no? Proper document management is a crucial part of smooth day-to-day operations, especially in a complex business like construction. In scenarios where there are multiple stakeholders and systems involved, things can get sticky, and therefore, something as straightforward as managing paperwork needs special attention.

That said, gone are the days of tracking paper in filing cabinets. Now, mostly everything is digital – but occasionally, this can make things worse rather than better, with chaotic file names, formats and silos in cloud storage. Statistics suggest that while a professional might take 5-15% of their time reading information, they’ll spend 50% looking for it.

Choosing the right cloud service, and streamlining filing structures and naming systems can make document searching and sharing far more efficient. All it takes is designing and sharing a simple system and you can reap the following benefits both internally and externally.

Time is money

It’s a time-honoured saying; time is money. In the days of paper, management consulting giants PWC estimated that it cost businesses $20 in labour just to file a document, $120 to find it if it was misplaced, and $220 to reproduce something that is lost. In the days of digital, these costs may not be as eye-watering, but lost documents can still waste time – which is arguably a business’s most important resource.

The less time employees spend locating files, the more time they can spend on other things. By locating a file in a consistent, navigable file structure, files can be located in a matter of moments. Even better is creating a naming system to make files ultra-searchable, so staff can find files in a few keystrokes.

Improved communication

Streamlined searching means streamlined communication both internally and externally. One person can ask a question like, “what’s the timeline or budget for such and such?” and the other can answer in a matter of seconds. It reduces the need for face-to-face meetings as important project details are easy to locate and communicate. Using the cloud also lets employees access documents any time, anywhere, so these conversations can happen quickly even when staff are working offsite.

Better security

Digital document storage allows for better security and backup. Certainly, digital solutions are vulnerable to the same physical threats as paper – a fire could damage a hard drive just as badly as a filing cabinet – but the cloud, for example, adds an extra line of defence supported by a major tech company. Although not perfect, it would take a major, headline news-worthy event for Google, AWS or Azure to be seriously compromised.

It also enhances security at lower levels. Digital tools can allow you to password-protect sensitive information, allowing only certain individuals to view them. Digital solutions like those provided by Google also make information more traceable as you can view document history and see changes, as opposed to saved-over information being lost forever.

The bottom line? Going digital doesn’t mean you can drop the ball. Document management still requires care and attention to avoid wasted time, maximise efficiency, and keep critical information safe. If your system needs reviewing, do it now.

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