Document Management

Written by Mike Terning, Head of Product

When I travel, I enjoy taking walks in the morning around the hotel. I enjoy taking in the scenery of unfamiliar communities. To me, it is enjoyable and many times educational. One July morning, I was walking downtown in St. Joseph, Missouri, near an office building with the vertical blinds half-way open. There was something that caught my attention and I couldn’t help but take a photo. Here is what I saw:

What do you see?

  • Bright Walls
  • Stacks and Stacks of Document Boxes
  • No room to walk
  • Clutter

Do you have any rooms in your office like this photo?


5 Tips for Document Management

Instead of ignoring the boxes, here are 5 tips for document management:

1. Structure your document management process

  • Come up with a process that is easy to understand and guides how you file and store documents.
  • Share and follow a written document retention policy with your entire organization.
  • If using an electronic document management system, make sure to identify how to store documents and index or attach them to the applicable record or transaction.


2. Secure your documents

  • Critical documents need to be stored in a place that allows for easy retrieval and protects against disasters such as fires, floods and theft.
  • Determine which documents must be physically secure, granting access to documents to select staff members who you authorize.
  • If using an electronic document storage system, create user profiles to monitor storage and access to the documents.  Also, make sure that electronic backups are performed and test backups on a scheduled basis.


3. Simplify your document retrieval

  • If your business stores documents in a warehouse or at an off-site facility, it’s important to do the following to prevent confusion and save time:
    • Catalog the exact location of the documents
      • example: Location A, Northwest Aisle, 4th row, 2nd box from the bottom
    • Write instructions and processes regarding how to (and who can) retrieve the documents
  • An electronic document storage system should allow those with permission to easily find documents in a logical manner, perhaps relating to a counter-party and/or a transaction


4. Schedule document destruction

  • Your written document retention policy should list the retention time of each document.
  • Create a schedule of work or calendar reminder to ensure that your team follows the retention policy.
  • Assign retention and destruction responsibilities and hold those staff responsible.
  • Using a bonded third-party service to destroy and dispose of documents may help compliance efforts.
  • Consider having your internal or external auditors review and test compliance according to your policies, especially if using an electronic document management system. As a general rule, don’t assume your team is following the policy — always check to be certain.  As Louis Vincent Gerstner Jr., best known for serving as chairman of the board and CEO of IBM in the 1990’s said:  “People don’t do what you expect but what you inspect.”


5. Software can help you

  • Contact your software provider to see what solutions exist that may help you manage your files.

If you have AGRIS or CINCH or oneWeigh, we have a document management solution that your agribusiness can adopt and will reduce your stress going forward as it relates to document management.


Learn more about AGRIS Document Management, Greenstone’s document management tool.

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