Small businesses have a lot of documents and data to sort, organize, and protect. With more and more data being generated as businesses grow and technology advances; organizing that data is more imperative with each passing day. However, with no direction on how to actually organize data, many small businesses just keep doing what they have always done.

One of the challenges with poor data and document management for any SMB is the risks posed by those practices. The risks could be operational in nature. For example, improper filing may make it difficult or impossible to find the right documents quickly and efficiently. Or, the risks could be security risks. An example of this could be losing client documents, having them stolen, or misplacing them where an unauthorized third party can view them. And, of course, there is always the risk of a cyberattack which is designed to steal potentially sensitive data. One report suggests SMBs lose $200k on average to cyberattacks.

In any case, proper organization leads to better data security, better client experiences, and improved efficiency in the workplace. For SMBs looking to take their data and document management game to the next level, this guide should prove to be a helpful starting point.

Make a Plan

The key to success in business is to have a plan. The same is true for organizing data. Before making more detailed decisions about the exact document management platform to use, small businesses need to understand their own unique requirements first.

The plan should include how documents will be created, shared, and stored. This is an opportunity to create templates for popular document needs, as an example. The entire team can be on the same page and using a standardized format. Not only does this help with processing and operations, it makes creating documents easier as users can simply use the template on the shared document management platform.

Speaking of sharing, how will documents be shared? Will they be available on a drive for anyone to access? Will permissions need to be granted? These are important questions to answer.

Finally, determining where documents will be stored is also important. Storage space requires budget allocation and determining how much storage is needed can help guide future decisions.

Make a Choice

There are a number of great document management platforms available. Each offer their own features and benefits. Choosing the right one can prove to be a challenge for many small businesses.

A few things to consider would be user friendliness, if the documents are available offline as well as online, and how easily the platform integrates into existing operations. When making an important change, the experience needs to be seamless to help enable the entire team to buy in and create efficiency in the document management process. Platforms that integrate well with existing email services, for example, can make storing and sharing documents received by email simple and easy for employees.

Start Implementation

Once some challenging decisions have been made, it’s time to implement the data and document management system into operations. This includes some very important steps like defining permissions and rules for document creation, sharing, and storage. Who can access what? Who can share with who? Who can upload to which folder? This helps ensure the right people have access to what they need while other documents are safe and protected if they are not needed by other members of the team.

Other rules to consider could be naming conventions for documents so everyone is on the same page, how to set sharing settings when creating a new document, storage best practices, and more.

Storage Set Up

The whole purpose of document management is to have better storage of documents. This includes making sure those documents can be accessed easily and efficiently by the people that need them. One of the best ways to ensure efficiency is to set up good storage practices. This can include creating categories and folders where certain documents can be stored. For example, accounting can have their own category for invoices that are broken down by month and broken down further by paid or unpaid status.

When everyone is on the same page with storage, everyone can find the information they need easily. With some platforms, the documents can also be made available in the cloud so authorized users can access them from anywhere. This is especially handy for SMBs with staff that may be working from home.

Find the Right Platform

Choosing the right platform for small business document management can be challenging. Thankfully, the business specialists at Mac Copy have experience in helping businesses of all sizes, across all industries, find the perfect solution for their needs and budget.

Ready to take data management to the next level? Contact the experts at Mac Copy today.