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 AttachToo, Greenstone’s document management tool.

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