Whether working in a software development company or a shoe store, you can’t run away from paperwork and documents. From company policies and employee handbooks to service agreements and financial statements, an average organization handles hundreds of records as part of its regular operations. 📁
Chaotic document management is a huge risk factor for any business. Say you lose track of important contracts—this can lead to regulatory issues and safety concerns, not to mention potentially straining areas like collaboration and task delivery.
The solution? Establishing a proper document management workflow. It saves you from the claws of disorganization and inefficiency by dictating an organization’s creation, storage, retrieval, distribution, and disposal of documents. In this article, we’ll discuss expert-approved ways to optimize and bring structure into document-related processes.
- What is a Document Management Workflow?
- Why is Optimizing Document Management Workflows Important?
- 10 Effective Ways to Improve Document Workflow
- 1. Identify your needs
- 2. Utilize the right document workflow software
- 3. Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) in document management
- 4. Centralize your documents
- 5. Ensure documents are easy to find in a workflow management software
- 6. Automate your work
- 7. Integrate your document management software with other platforms
- 8. Keep document-related workflows flexible
- 9. Train your team
- 10. Monitor and upgrade
What is a Document Management Workflow?
A document management workflow (DMW) represents how you handle documents within your organization. This encompasses every document-related process and task, including managing different document versions, ensuring compliance with regulatory bodies, and making reporting faster and error-free.
Here are examples of some prominent sub-processes within a document workflow:
- Creation: Explains how new documents should be drafted and created
- Editing: Shows how existing documents should be edited, proofread, and reviewed to ensure compliance and prevent errors
- Storage: Describes how and where to store documents, whether in the physical or digital format
- Categorization: Shows how documents should be organized and indexed for easier retrieval and navigation. Think workspace locations, folders, nested folders, etc.
- Sharing: Specifies who can access, edit, and share documents
- Disposal: Outlines how to keep track of redundant docs and eliminate them from the document management system
- Requests and approvals: Explains document approval processes across hierarchy levels
- Monitoring: Describes how to keep track of version revisions and changes to ensure maximum transparency. It also refers to reviewing the entire workflow’s performance, spotting inefficiencies in retrieving or handling documents, and figuring out ways to eliminate them
Why is Optimizing Document Management Workflows Important?
One of the biggest challenges organizations face in the current age is inefficient information management, especially when remote or hybrid teams are involved. A typical scenario is project stakeholders struggling to find relevant documentation at their fingertips, which can trigger communication gaps within departments or time and cost overruns.
Optimizing document management workflows is all about keeping these inefficiencies at bay. Its importance within a company is mainly reflected in seven aspects:
- Enhanced efficiency: Document management workflows help optimize general workflows and business processes, ensuring employees are more productive and don’t waste time looking for docs
- Transparency: Having all documents in one place removes departmental silos and ensures info is disclosed to relevant team members
- Easier employee onboarding: Structured documentation ensures new team members can find the information they’re interested in and learn how to handle different tasks
- Process standardization: Carefully planned workflows help you outline standard operating procedures (SOPs) for processes and collaborative tasks and keep cross-functional teams aligned
- Improved security: A well-designed document management workflow allows you to control access permissions to files and folders
- Minimized errors: You can ensure consistency in document handling and automate repetitive admin tasks, reducing the risk of manual errors
- Improved decision-making processes: Access within a document management solution to essential documents with contextual information helps users make wise, data-backed decisions
10 Effective Ways to Improve Document Workflow
Improving document management workflows can undoubtedly help your organization flourish—but the question is, what’s the ideal way to do this?
For starters, the traditional method of physically storing files and folders is a no-go. In the current scenario, you can devise a quality documentation system using document management software (for example, ClickUp) to organize and manage records.
After thorough research, we have mapped out the 10 best practices that help build the core framework of document management workflows. We’ll also demonstrate some functionalities within ClickUp that can enhance the process! 😍
1. Identify your needs
The first thing on your agenda should be analyzing your organization and identifying specific document-related needs. As every company is unique, you may need to dig deep and review your processes to understand what’s not working and where to focus on.
Consider your line of work and the documents you need to manage. For example, if you’re an accounting firm, you’ll need a workflow that supports high document traffic and has advanced categorization options to help retrieve items quickly in the event of disputes.
On the other hand, if you’re a small business selling jewelry online, your document management system workflow will likely focus on storing individual product descriptions and creating and managing invoices.
Identifying needs can be a lengthy and complex process, but the functionality of your document management workflow depends on it. Start by factoring in your team’s size and consider how many people will access the workflow and how often.
It’s always an excellent idea to ask your team members to pitch their two cents about what they’d like to see in the workflow and how they feel about the current system. You can leverage customizable ClickUp Forms to capture responses and feedback from your team and turn them into actionable tasks that connect to your workflows.
Once you gather the necessary info, you can start reinventing your document workflow to align it with company needs.
2. Utilize the right document workflow software
Proper document management software should be equipped with options that help you optimize your workflows and maximize efficiency.
As ClickUp is a first-class task and project management platform, it understands the need for streamlined document management processes. Within the tool, you’ll find ClickUp Docs, an attractive suite that helps you handle all document-related tasks in one place.
With ClickUp Docs, you can create, edit, share, and store all company-related documents, from knowledge bases and wikis to contracts and SOPs.
Use rich editing and styling options to customize your docs, add bookmarks, insert nested folders, and embed tables to make your records as detailed as needed.
One of the best things about ClickUp Docs is the ability to connect your documents to workflows—which leaves task assignees with enough contextual info to do their jobs well.
Worried about security? That’s covered—ClickUp lets you customize Hierarchy levels for folders and Workspaces, as well as configure permissions and privacy settings, giving you complete control over who can access, edit, and share your documents.
3. Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) in document management
You and your team shouldn’t have to jump through hoops and spend hours creating detailed documents. Luckily, AI has proved to be an invaluable addition to the document management space, allowing teams to sort through documents and generate knowledge items faster. In fact, a recent scientific study found that using generative AI tools can:
- Reduce writing time by 40%
- Improve output quality by 18%
ClickUp AI is an excellent example of how AI can transform your document management workflows. This platform’s generative writing assistant accelerates any document creation process through customizable, role-specific prompts.
ClickUp AI helps you brainstorm, generate, polish, and summarize content for different types of documents—all optimized for tone and grammar. All you have to do is fill in the intent fields, and the tool can generate professional-grade documents like project briefs, meeting agendas, marketing case studies, and project timelines with utmost precision.
There’s more—ClickUp AI lets you generate action items from your Docs! Just select a specific part of your Doc, click AI, and opt for Generate action item. ClickUp AI will analyze the selected content and create a to-do list. ✨
Besides ClickUp AI, the platform offers another document creation aid—templates! ClickUp’s impressive library with over 1,000 templates fast-tracks the process of creating documents, daily planners, knowledge bases, and emails. They’re 100% customizable so that you can adjust them to your company’s guidelines and line of work.
4. Centralize your documents
Not keeping all your documents centralized can be the root of chaos, disorganization, lack of transparency, and data loss. An efficient document management workflow has to ensure everyone, including employees, managers, and clients, can access crucial files and information in one place—and not via emails or message threads.
If you use ClickUp 3.0, you can explore Docs Hub as an excellent center for storing every company-related document. It presents all your documents through three cards—Recent, Favorites, and Created by Me—followed by a table displaying all your records. 😎
5. Ensure documents are easy to find in a workflow management software
You keep all company documents in one place, but there’s another problem—finding a specific doc can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Poor retrieval value is a major flaw in any document management workflow. This may not sound like a big deal if you’ve just started a company with a small client pool. But imagine digging up a doc you created three or four years ago.
An optimized document management workflow revolves around searchability. You should be able to locate ANY document in your workflow within seconds to ensure process efficiency.
Many top document management tools suffer from weak search capabilities—but you won’t face this issue with the Universal Search feature in ClickUp 3.0. This feature lets you look for practically anything in your Workspace using basic keywords. You can also search items by the time they were last updated and viewed.
Cannot recall the name of a document? Improve your search logistics within ClickUp by creating customizable tags for records. For example, if you’ve created multiple docs focusing on process improvement methodologies, you can tag them with process improvement.
ClickUp also adds a Located In column from search results. This allows you to see where a particular Doc is stored and find it with a few clicks.
6. Automate your work
One of the fastest ways to optimize your document management workflows is to automate tasks and activities within them. Automations save your team from error-prone, repetitive tasks, boost efficiency, and help them stay focused on more value-adding activities.
Workflow automation often requires coding and may sound challenging for non-tech teams, but it can be straightforward if you’re using a powerful tool like ClickUp.
With over 100 no-code ClickUp Automations, you can let the platform take care of routine tasks for you. You control what triggers an Automation and what happens after it’s triggered, all through a visual interface. It can come in handy for managing document reviews and updating the status of approvals. 😍
7. Integrate your document management software with other platforms
Gone are the days when organizations could completely rely on a single app or platform. Nowadays, you have a separate app for everything from creating invoices and tracking time to scheduling meetings with team members.
While jumping between dozens of apps can be tiring, it’s a necessary evil in the modern workplace. An easy way to optimize document management workflows and eliminate the need to constantly switch between apps is by using integrations.
You’ll be happy that ClickUp integrates with 1,000+ platforms like Slack, GitHub, Everhour, and Zoom. If you can’t find the app you want to integrate on the list, use ClickUp API to build custom integrations and keep info across platforms accessible from a single resource hub!
8. Keep document-related workflows flexible
Document and project management workflows are closely connected. And since project processes tend to change a lot, you have to ensure your document workflows can follow suit.
Keeping your project and document workflows aligned is possible with the ClickUp project management suite, curated with features that revolve around meticulous organization, collaboration, and precision.
The stand-out option that gives you and your team complete flexibility is ClickUp views. The platform offers 15+ views that let you organize your document workflows however you want. Use the List view to sort your Docs, skip to the Gantt chart to monitor documentation needs throughout shifting timelines, or take advantage of the Activity view to monitor the recent edits and updates to records.
Want to know how much time your team members spend on specific tasks? Use ClickUp’s native time tracker to monitor and manage time and easily organize workloads.
With ClickUp, you can chat with your team members in real time, assign comments with action items, and customize notifications to ensure all document-related chatter is communicated swiftly. 😍
Other notable features you’ll find useful are:
- Setting priorities
- Creating task dependencies (for example, you need document A completed before task B begins)
- Setting and tracking goals
- Mind Maps for detailed workflow designs
9. Train your team
You’ve identified your needs, started using a new document management platform, and centralized your docs. But your job’s not done until you’ve updated your team on the latest changes!
If you want to implement your document management workflows well, ensure everyone’s in the loop about new practices.
ClickUp gives you plenty of options for training and managing your team.
If you’ve reinvented your processes and want to help your team understand every step, you can use process maps to explain everything in detail. Your team members can simply follow the maps to complete tasks with guaranteed success. Create standard operating procedures in the form of training modules and invite relevant team members to it. If they have questions, they can leave comments directly on the document. ✨
A recurring problem in document-based workflows is two or more people working on the same task, leading to redundant work. But with the ClickUp Collaborative Detection, you can see multiple cursors with name tags when others comment on or edit the same Doc as you. This jumpstarts both real-time and async collaboration and prevents duplication of documents.
10. Monitor and upgrade
Think of document management workflows as plants requiring constant care to flourish. What worked for your organization a few years ago may be pointless today. This is why you must monitor your workflow’s efficiency, reevaluate performance, and upgrade as necessary. 🌱
There are different ways to keep track of your workflows within ClickUp. For instance, you can define KPIs and track them using ClickUp Dashboards with 50+ widgets. Focus on specific aspects to identify bottlenecks and adjust as you go.
ClickUp: Your Document Management Workflow Wizard
A well-functioning documentation system is vital for every organization that wants to remain competitive and efficient. It brings order and structure into your team, reduces costs, and enhances collaboration, so don’t hesitate to explore the optimizations we suggested.
ClickUp is your go-to tool on this journey, perfect for creating, managing, sharing, and storing documents, automating processes, and streamlining teamwork and communication! Sign up for free, and see how it can help enforce company-wide consistency in your document management workflows! 💗