The Art Of Document Management – Action Tracking


Two tall metal file cabinets for work or home use

Image via Wikipedia

It takes a certain amount of skill to set up a document management system. Whether you’re creating a simple filing system, or a complex maze of documents on a server. It works in the same way with online document management systems. You either look at it from a D.I.Y perspective, or find a solution that does it all for you.

I want to take a closer look at action tracking using an online cloud based document management system and how to make sure that your documents stay current and always in use, or, if you’re researching document management systems, this could serve as a way to filter those that have merit and those that will not.

A business will always have documents, whether they are work ethics, standard operating rules, audit documents, right down to your humble business plan, drafted before a company launch. We all know that these documents are to be filed away and used for reference to make sure you’re keeping things on the right track, but designing a system for that is not as easy as taking the file to the nearest relevant filing cabinet.

1. Making sure documents stay in use and actions related to the documents are followed on time.

This is probably the most important factor to consider. With sales documents, standard operating rules (SOP’s), HR policies, and a whole range of other document types, making sure that these documents are used and followed is an important part of any business. If they aren’t followed, and the business strays, you would be running less efficiently than you could be. This is where action tracking could play an important role. With a proper system in place, action tracking could help you make sure that any actions related to documents are followed through, efficiently and on time. For instance, if you have actions in place to do audits on assets, or routine machinery maintenance, an action tracking system could help you immensely. You would link the document to an action and assign the responsible person. What should then happen is that the system should send out a notification and a companion email to the responsible person/s letting them know they have a task to do.

The tracker then does what its named for, it tracks whether these actions have been performed and notifies the responsible person/s that the action is due, overdue, and the amount of time the action is overdue. The responsible person would then have the choice to close the action off when the task is completed, reschedule the task if they already have too many to do, or assign another person to be responsible for the action.

2. Creating new documents in a CMS when or upload documentation when actions are complete.

This ties in perfectly with the first point. Usually when you do audits or surveys or maintenance of any kind, the task comes with documents to show the findings, what needed repair, what was repaired, when last a particular item was repaired, etc. All of which would need to be linked to the original task document that the action came from.

Sounds a little complicated right? Not really, it would work something like this:

The original document

Action

Documents from the task performed.

Each of these documents are tied to the action. You would upload the documents to the system, link them to the action, and close the action off using a short description from the completed documents.

Anyone in the organisation would then be able to log into the system, look at the original document and immediately see what tasks were performed for that document, and who the responsible person/s were.

This is what makes action tracking such an part of document management. The ability to check actions performed for documentation not only gives you control, but also allows you to track down problems a lot faster, allowing you to fix these problems efficiently and hassle free.

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