Best Practices for Your Document Management Strategy


Person brown suite and blue undershirt and tiein suite holding files

Our friends at accountingweb.com are the go-to in their field when it comes to formulating and holding onto the most effective document management strategies.

“Paperless document strategies are more of a culture than a strategy; you can put all of the technology in place, but if you still “have to have” paper, you may not wind up as paperless as you planned. So, what does it take to really do digital documents right?

If you are looking at a transaction without the supporting documentation or “paperwork,” how can you tell what’s going on? If you simply store documents in a file folder structure, even with smart naming conventions, you may not be as paperless as you think.

If you have different document storage systems, including file cabinets, a Document Management System (DMS), a portal, some off-site storage, and a backup in the cloud, you may not be as paperless as you think. If you recall the classic Bugs Bunny cartoons, I’m reminded of Bugs’ phrase, while munching a carrot: “Ehh, what’s up, Doc?”

What Needs Are You Trying to Satisfy?

What Are Your Pain Points?

Normally, there are several pain points related to paperless digital document management. Let’s see if some of these ring true with you:

  1. Quick retrieval of any document.
  2. Can’t find critical documents when they are needed.
  3. Documents that serve as records of evidentiary value, such as an invoice to prove that software was purchased or that a hardware product has a lifetime warranty that can be honored and repaired or replaced can be readily retrieved.
  4. Documents related to a single engagement or project can be handled conveniently as a group.
  5. Appropriate security measures can be applied to allow or prevent access to records. Examples here could be payroll or personnel records, documents needed for litigation, or other records of a permanent nature.
  6. Supporting documentation including purchase orders, engagement letters, executed statement of work, contracts, or other legally binding documentation that may become records of a permanent nature are readily accessible.
  7. Marketing and promotional material that may include descriptions of products or services, programs and events, and other client-facing materials are readily available and versions are controlled.
  8. Internal documents that may contain proprietary or confidential data, including formulas, product specifications, and competitive analysis. These documents typically are for internal use only and need to be controlled so they do not fall into competitors’ or customers’ hands.
  9. Financial and operational reporting, much of which is produced on a recurring basis.
  10. Legal and governmental documentation that could include tax returns, lawsuits, articles of incorporation, minutes, audits, bank loans, and other documentation critical to business operations.

Note that we could have named more transactional items like bank statements, expenses, invoices, quotes, orders, and similar business documentation or documents that describe the processes of a business – or, in a word, documentation.”

Interested in learning more? Head over to accountingweb.com to read Randy Johnston’s in depth article on best practices for document management and even more helpful information.