Document Management for Human Resources: A Short Primer

By NE Docs | January 21, 2014

Human resource departments have a legacy of requiring physical signatures for the documents they manage. All of these documents are necessary to run an organization of any size, and must be tracked. The documents can be divided into the categories listed below.

  • Onboarding: Payroll, I-9, W-4, policy acknowledgement, resume, employment applications, non-disclosures, employment screening
  • Ongoing: Reviews, policy changes, training certifications, benefit enrollment, disciplinary actions
  • Separation: Exit interviews, COBRA documents, resignation letters, separation packages, benefit statements

These documents can be letters, faxes, emails as well as electronically generated documents. In many cases, though, these documents sit in filing cabinets, taking up space and not being appropriately managed. By not tracking them according to the state and federal documentation policies, the organization can be at risk, despite being well intention to maintain compliance.

To better manage these documents, we recommend implementing a three step approach to managing these documents:

  1. Document management selection
  2. Backfile conversion
  3. Day forward processes

Document Management Selection (hint, move to the cloud)

The first step is to decide on a document management system. Many organizations turn to the cloud to manage these documents for a variety of reasons. In the past, cloud applications did not have the necessary features to be taken seriously. Now, cloud document management solutions provide robust security, simple configuration and aggressive pricing based on usage. In addition, cloud based document management eliminates the need for ongoing infrastructure investment.

Key features for a cloud based document management solution include:

  • Workflow
  • Scalability
  • Licensing (concurrent vs. named)
  • Web forms
  • Automated document retention

Backfile Conversion (hint, get rid of the filing cabinets)

Upon selecting the document management system, the next step is do manage the existing documents. This involves scanning the documents into the document management system, and appropriately indexing them. It is important to understand how your document retention policies can be implemented into the document management system, since there is usually a date and document type component to any document retention policy.

The backfile conversion can be accomplished in house or sent to a qualified service bureau. We strongly suggest that these activities are outsourced (at least for your sensitive documents) to keep the information secure from both IT and in-appropriate eyes. Once the documents have been scanned, you can apply the document retention policies, and be instantly in compliance.

Day Forward (hint, implement web forms and scanning)

Finally, consider how documents will be managed day forward. In most cases, the document volume will be significantly lower than the day forward documents. Scanning these documents can be performed on an ad-hoc basis, potentially using your multi-function device or a small, desktop scanner.

In many cases, your document management system will also have the ability to deploy electronic forms, enabling you to completely eliminate paper from the specific HR process. While many processes will continue to require physical documentation, you can replace the paper processes over time with electronic processes over time.


There are many benefits to implementing a document management solution in the Human Resources department, including space savings and reduced compliance risk. Every company has both unique documentation requirements as well as ongoing federal and state laws that drive the need for efficient document management. By implementing a document management solution, you can quickly realize a return on investment in addition to having a tool for ongoing continuous process improvement.

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