While businesses’ move to cloud services has been a big step forward in document handling, chaos still reigns the storage systems, Sopra Steria’s Ruben Nøttveit claims. So what should they do to gain control?
It’s no secret that we at Documaster have some ideas about how documents should be handled and stored. But what do the independent experts in the area think? And what is the situation of document handling in companies today? We asked the Director and Head of Business Consulting in Sopra Steria Bergen, Ruben Nøttveit.
“Using cloud services for creating and storing documents has been a significant improvement,” says Nøttveit. “Both because it makes it easier to collaborate seamlessly across the team and because, at least then, the documents are stored somewhere searchable and accessible for others than just the document owner.”
But still, there’s a long way to go, according to the director. Because even though the company now stores documents in the cloud, it will often use several different solutions. New team members and collaborators will come in, old team members will disappear, the system will be used inconsistently, and the document pile will accumulate over time and become too chaotic.
Structure what’s critical – lose what’s not
“I think the first thing a company experiencing document chaos should do, is to categorize its files into business-critical or non-critical. What document do you have to keep for later use? The first step should be to get those in order,” says Nøttveit.
He thinks many companies overestimate the value of old information, keeping internal presentations, notes, and outdated records. This makes cleaning up a more challenging project, and it makes it harder to maintain a structure going forward.
When trying to find a structure for categorizing documents, he recommends putting yourself in the shoes of the people who will use the system: How are they searching for info? What keywords are they using? How are their work processes? What work processes create what sorts of documents?
Minimize the manual work
However, the cleverest structure in the world won’t do any good if it’s not correctly maintained and applied to new documents. The more people who handle and store documents, and the more they have to do manually to sort them correctly, the higher the risk for chaos.
“The Achilles heel of document handling is the process from the document is created to when it’s stored. How much must be done manually? How much can be done wrong? The holy grail is a fully automated categorization,” says Nøttveit.
Having seen many companies going through huge clean-up processes trying to gain control of their records, he thinks that’s one of the most common pitfalls: Underestimating the importance of the user experience when tagging or sorting the documents.
Keep the clean-up proportional
He also recommends a thorough business case before starting an extensive restructuring or change of storage solution: How much time do you spend storing and restoring documents? How much money do you stand to lose if you don’t have control? How much of your records are business-critical?
“For some, it might not be necessary to go ‘all in’ immediately. Maybe you just have to get the absolutely critical documents in order. Maybe you can start with one category and take it from there. Or maybe you can leave your existing documents as is, and just say that ‘from now on, this is our system’,” Nøttveit explains.
“But one thing is for certain: This is something all companies should think through, and the sooner, the better – before the chaos gets the upper hand.”