Do you have a large number of PDF documents? Perhaps your documents include spreadsheets, HTML documents, Power Point presentations, or any number of other document types. The time it takes to create and manage these documents can be very time consuming. But it doesn’t have to be. There are eight different tips for managing your biggest files.
First, read your documents carefully. It doesn’t matter if it’s a text document or a Power Point presentation. Make sure that you understand what each document is for. Take the time to search for keywords in the content. You’ll also want to look for dates, email addresses, and more.
Second, keep your document classified. This is not as important with electronic documents. But this is crucial with web documents, especially with links. Many web applications will let you hyperlink to various documents and indicate the classification (which means that the document is a web page) or the originating website. You can use this functionality to make it easier to share information with colleagues and business associates.
Third, keep it easy to share. Even if your document is an exact replica of another document, that doesn’t mean that you should classify it the same way. This is the quickest way to lose people (and valuable technology) in the sea of corporate squabbling. Use a simple way to classify the document. Either put a header on each page or create a hyperlink to categorize the document. This technique is less formal than a standard Classification Agreement but it still communicates well.
Fourth, establish protocols. This might sound like a more formal way to organize information. But in truth, nothing could be further from the truth. Routing rules can be formalized, but the core elements of good document organization remain unchanged: identifying the role and creating a clear story for the end user or a reference repository.
Fifth, organize information for users. In a document management system, information is typically classified into logical sections. Each document in a section belongs to a topic. The topics can include dates, descriptions, specifications, metadata, and so on.
Sixth, label the document. When people open a document in an application, the name of the document is usually “documents”. But don’t be content with “documents”. Create short names for things like “specification” and “approval”.
Seventh, document transferability is key. A document works best when it can be transferred into many different forms. Ask your users to save their document in PDF, Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages application. By doing so, you make their document more valuable to you and the collaboration becomes easier. If you have any special needs for your document, tailor its content to meet those needs. For example, if your company holds client meetings over email, you might want to indicate that in the subject line.
Finally, let them read it. Read every word of a document before you start typing. By reading it, the employees will have a better idea of how to work with your data. They will also understand what kind of changes will be required to the document in order for it to be ready for a certain format conversion.
Let’s review the first four tips. First, you need to classify your data so that it is easy to find. If you can’t do this yourself, outsource it. Next, you must group your data. Then, you have to group it properly so that the most important pieces are prominent in the document. And finally, have clear discussions about the documents so that everyone knows what is going on.
You can automate some of the work, but be sure to always have an employee review a document before it goes to someone else’s hands. This person will know if there are typos or grammatical errors. It might even be a mistake that you don’t want to pay for. If there are, have the person immediately fixed. (And make sure he knows where the error is so you can fix it right away.)
Managing your data is not easy, and it never will be. But by having a good set of tactics for handling it, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time and money you spend maintaining it. Just remember to stay organized so you don’t have chaos on your hands. Follow these tips well, and you should be able to improve your data management quite quickly!