Managing documentation effectively is a complex process, and by “effectively”, I mean knowing what documentation you have, why you keep it, where you keep it (and how to retrieve it easily) and who is responsible for maintaining different versions of the documents. An effective documentation system should add value to a business rather than being a drain on resources when time is wasted trying to find the right information.
But, naturally, there are documents and documents – some are required for legal reasons but rarely, if ever, actually needed and some are essential for the day-to-day functioning of a business but what about the hundreds, or thousands of other types of documentation that an organisation will amass over time? Are they all still required and, if not, you must identify which ones are obsolete and which ones are essential and contribute to the bottom-line of the business.
Before any new documentation management and archiving system can be implemented it is important to carry out a full assessment of existing documentation in order to help in identifying which documents are contributing (or could be contributing) to the success of the business. The staff who are responsible for certain documents (either as the creator or the user) should be interviewed to describe the purpose of each document – you might be surprised at how many employees always fill on a document for no better reason than that they always have without knowing whether it has any true value to the business or not. If this is the case in your organisation then implementing a new document strategy is the perfect time to weed out the unnecessary documents and incorporate improvements to those that are necessary but not adding as much value as they could to essential business functions.