In the business environment, every product and every asset has a shelf life, from consumer food products to software and hardware. Food products break down, technology changes. In most of these cases, lifecycle processes for these consumables are strategically managed. Oddly, most companies do not plan for the obsolescence of their documents. And yet, the information therein begins to expire or gradually lose its value as soon as the document is posted or printed. Thankfully, there are tools you can use to easily automate document lifecycle management.
Blow Off the Dust and Look at the Date
When was the last time you looked at the expiration date on a jar of mayonnaise or your milk container? Sure, you can smell or taste it. But doesn’t it make more sense to know up front the lifecycle of that milk before you actually buy it, so you know how long you can use it, as well as when to throw it out?
Think of all the forms, sales documents and operation guides your company has. When was the last time you looked at how old those documents are and of what use they could possibly be today?
“But,” you might hear someone say, “we have used that form for years.” Well, great, let’s say you got your money’s worth from that document, but maybe you also missed out on a significant amount of valuable data or even revenues because the users could not use it as effectively as newer-designed forms.
What is Document Lifecycle Management?
Document lifecycle is defined as “the sequence of stages that a document goes through from its creation to its eventual archival or destruction,” according to whatis.com.
Successful content management is based on implementing processes that help your company obtain, organize, store, and deliver information important to its operation in an efficient manner. Similarly, document lifecycle management pertains to overseeing your company’s paper and electronic documents, so they are easily retrieved for legal, compliance, and accounting purposes, such as in the cases of a subpoena, audit, or tax filing.
A good document lifecycle management strategy involves:
- Defining a retention period
- Arranging appropriate storage
- Tracking changes
- Ensuring disaster recovery
- Categorizing the content
- Tagging metadata
- Simplifying delivery/sharing
- Repurposing the content
- Generating reports
- Archiving and/or deleting content
These processes can be automated to ensure you reduce the glut of unused, outdated documents, as well as alerting your staff of the need to revisit possible changes that could improve user experience and ROI. Remember this. Your documentation should have a purpose. When it outlives that purpose, it should be removed, whether to archival storage or outright deletion/elimination.
Challenges with Managing Document Lifecycles
No document lives forever. Those that stick around too long often reveal a failure to:
- Keep up with technology changes
- Synchronize content with business requirements
- Add required product/service updates
- Plan for end-of-life for out-of-date information
Tracking and automating your document lifecycle process enables your organization to overcome these limitations and provides an effective way to know at any time the current state of your document assets.
Working with a Document Lifecycle Expert
When you work with a document expert, you’ll have more access to the knowhow and necessary controls that ensure your important documents are current, safe, secure, and compliant. You will avoid common document archiving and destruction mistakes which could have unwanted consequences. NEdocs provides management solutions to capture, manage, store and securely access any information, including electronic files, paper documents, images, print streams, and emails.
For further information about managing your document lifecycles, feel free to call our service team at (603) 625-1171.