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5 File Management Best Practices in 2024

~60% of organizations anticipate an increase in information between two and fourfold. However, ~75% of organizations currently struggle with document and content management for knowledge workers because:1 

  • ~93% of the employees find it difficult to find the document they are looking for.

20% of CIOs said their top three investments are in office efficiency.2 Because, investing in an electronic document management system can reduce inefficiencies caused by content growth, save employees time from searching for documents, and improve their filing practices.   

However, many business leaders do not have the right information about file management practices. Only one-third of business leaders understand the difference between knowledge workers’ tools for file management and their practices.3 

In this article, we explore document management’s top 5 best practices.

1. Use a document management system for file management

A document management system, also known as document management software, can organize documents, make reports, store and back up data, and make files searchable, which saves you time in your daily work.

For example, using content services (CS) can provide a document management system to organize electronic files (e-files) like documents, videos, and images (Figure 1). 

Figure 1: Content services as a document management solution.4

Why is it important? 

  • CS platforms can use metadata information to organize your files: CS does not rely on organizing documents into folders. Instead, it organizes e-files to collect metadata information. The metadata has information about the document class, the creator, the date it was made, the customer, and the project’s name.
  • CS platforms can offer version control and editing layers: CS can provide version control to inform users about the document versions to prevent duplicate documents. Also, it can provide layers in editing to avoid accidental changes in a document’s new version and cut down on duplicate files.
  • CS platforms can offer predictive filing: CS services can offer artificial intelligence (AI) services to predict users’ filing behavior. AI can provide insights into where to store documents on the content services platform.

Look at this quick read to learn more about content services applications in document management.

Content services platforms can search digital files to metadata information. On the CS platform, users can type in metadata information to search documents to their creation date and the name of the user who created them (see Video 1). This search feature enables users to find files more efficiently than with the folding systems used by Windows or other default operating systems.

Video 1: Searching and filtering on the CS platform

2. Using a centralized system to store your digital files

Using a centralized system to store your documents is one of the document management best practices. Knowledge workers can get better results when searching for electronic documents using a centralized system to store them. 

Why is it important?

Using a centralized document management system can be more important than before. Companies are inclined to use hybrid cloud environments and cloud-based software. In the next two years, hybrid cloud environments will be expected to grow by 72% (Table 1).

Table 1: The use of hybrid cloud environments is increasing.5

But about half of IT professionals agree that managing hybrid cloud environments is challenging, making it hard to find documents (Figure 2). Saving time can be important when managing documents.

For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) Right of Access clause requires that patient records be sent to the person who asked for them within 30 days.6

Non-compliance with time requirements in regulations can damage brand names and result in monetary penalties.

Figure 2: It is challenging to manage multi-cloud environments.7

What is the solution?

Content services software can offer centralized platforms to manage documents in hybrid cloud environments. 20 out of 23 case studies we collected indicate that businesses use CS platforms to improve their document management. For example, Geiger BDT GmbH used a CS platform and:

  • Employees saved about 2 hours per day on content search.
  • Improved email management and customer ticket processing power.

3. Using a naming convention to name your files

Document naming conventions can aid you in staying organized and identifying your business documents more efficiently. A document naming convention is a structure for naming files in a way that characterizes their contents and relationships to other files.

Why is it important?

A file naming convention can improve consistency among your file names and make them more predictable to find. File naming conventions can:

  • Improve searchability: Using a convention can increase the probability of successfully searching for files. 
  • Increase transparency: Using a convention can increase transparency because everyone knows what the file is about and where to find it.

What is the solution?

A convention for naming files should include relevant information to enhance search results. This convention can include the following information (Video 2): 

  • Project/account number: The project’s name or abbreviation that the file belongs to.
  • Department name: The name of the department that created the file, like finance.
  • Document Type: An abbreviation for document forms like “LTR” for letter or “MEM” for memo. (To see further abbreviations visit the link in the footnote.

For example, following this naming convention, you can name a document from a finance department for an investment project in a bank as follows:

BankProject_FinanceDpt_LTR_20221222_Rev1.pdf

Video 2: Document Naming Conventions.

4. Using role-based authorizations to access read/write documents 

What is role-based authorization?

In document management, role-based authorization limits document access to authorized users for reading and writing documents. It is a strategy for implementing mandatory access control for securing documents in short and long-term retention. 

Why is it important?

 It can be important to control who can access documents and keep their integrity to follow the rules and laws. Documents must be kept secure, private, and ready for an external audit to comply with regulations like the HIPAA and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

For example, in healthcare, HIPAA regulations demand the following:

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule: Demands controls on access to patient data and is retained unchanged.

In 2021, HIPAA violations resulted in approximately $5.9 million in fines for healthcare providers. 8

What is the solution?

CS platforms can provide role-based authorizations to access read/write critical documents. This can increase compliance with regulations and laws. 

For example, authorized users can control access to documents by controlling “team spaces” and “external sharing controls” (see Video 3). Hence, CS platforms can provide the following to ensure compliance with regulations and laws:

  • Authorization requirements for unauthorized employees to access critical documents at will.
  • CS platforms can record and report access and activity by employees to files. 

Video 3: Use content services to provide role-based document access (see the team spaces section in the video).

5. Digitizing paper-based documents to e-files

Using paper documents can result in higher document storage costs. 

Why is it important?

One terabyte  (TB) equivalent of paper documents requires about two file cabinets, and according to estimates, it costs around $450 (Figure 3). On the other hand, keeping the same information in the cloud costs about $75.  

Figure 3: Comparison of storage costs of physical documents vs. digital documents9

How can you convert your physical documents to e-files?

CS platforms can facilitate the conversion of physical files into electronic files. CS platforms can provide optical recognition technology (OCR) to convert unstructured physical documents into machine-readable electronic files.

One company, for example, was able to increase the number of physical invoices it could scan each month by about 17,000 and scan 99% of them within 14 hours of their arrival.10

If you have further questions about best practices for content services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at:

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This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Yılmaz Doğukan Özlü.

Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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