Why Document Management Fails and How To Avoid the Mistakes

When you have a digital workplace, built-in document management software is a priority. You have to ensure that all users can access important documents and files easily through your employee intranet. At the same time, you need to keep files secure from potential hackers who want to get access to vital information.

So, what can go wrong when you start a new document management project and how can you avoid these issues? Before we delve into the most common document fails, let’s understand what the software is first.


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What is document management software?

Document management software is much more than simply document storage. Granted, it provides teams from across your organisation with a central space to store and locate files, but it also includes smart features that boost your teams’ efficiency.

For instance, version control functionality automatically generates an audit of a document’s history, such as upload date, when it was edited, and by whom  – a little like a records management facility. If a team member needs to revisit a previous version of a document, they can do this in just a couple of clicks.

A document management solution also includes “check-in/check-out” features that stop team members from editing a document that’s already being worked on by someone else. This saves time from duplicate work and prevents editing conflicts.

Perhaps the most crucial feature of a document management system, however, is it’s built-in permissions framework. This allows system administrators to control who can and can’t view particular files, which is essential when handling confidential or sensitive data. 

Now that you know a little more about document management software, let’s take a look at the most common document management problems and how to avoid them:

Top 4 document management software failures and how to avoid them

1. Document security isn’t prioritised

Security is a big priority when it comes to document storage for your digital workplace. GDPR and other digital laws are very strict and when there is a breach, firms can face big fines. All sensitive information has to be secure so that no unauthorised people can access it.

Unfortunately, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp didn’t understand this. Several years ago they used a public cloud solution to store information about 119,000 clients. While access to the information would have been easy for employees, it wasn’t very secure. This information was available to anyone and included passports, licences, and other personal details.

To demonstrate how insecure this information was, it wasn’t even FedEx who discovered the breach – it was an internet security research company. The information had been on the insecure cloud server for up to ten years, so there is no telling how much of the data was taken by criminals.

Instead, firms need to protect documents from unauthorised access using a combination of methods that are commonly available within intranet software. Firstly, all files should have permissions assigned to them that limit access. Permissions can be assigned based on the individual, their job role, and even their location.


Use intranet software to assign document permissions

Another option for securing your documents is to have firewalls that protect your systems from outside attacks, as well as IP address allow and block lists.

2. There’s no plan for the document management project

Without a plan for your new document management project, there is a high chance of failure. Research has found 70% of IT related projects fail, in part, due to poor planning. Therefore, before any work is completed, you need to start planning for the development and implementation of your new digital technology. This should include setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals so that you have some benchmarks to assess if the project has been a success.

The plan needs to include various aspects of the document management software for it to be successful. For instance, you need to specify exactly how you’re going to migrate current data over to the new system. You should also include how you’re going to engage employees with the new document storage process.

Finally, you need to include who has responsibility for what and by what time certain aspects should be completed. Without a plan, you and your team won’t have direction, and this can lengthen project times.

3. Users don’t like using the new system

One of the biggest reasons why new systems fail in a company is because users, i.e. your employees, are not on board with the new document management system. There are several reasons why your staff might be reluctant to use a new system.

The most obvious problem is that staff are too set in their ways and prefer the old system. Therefore, they don’t see the benefits of the new document storage system and will not try to understand it. To avoid this, you need to offer training on the new system as part of your engagement plan. You shouldn’t just focus on how to use the system, but why it will benefit employees in the long-term.

You can also improve adoption from reluctant employees by giving them a chance to offer feedback about the new system and how it could be modified.

4. Implementation is too broad

One of the other big issues with new document management projects is that they’re implemented too broadly across the company. When this happens, there is too much going on and this can cause project managers and their teams to be overwhelmed – you’ll find old practices are re-adopted in these situations.

However, this is a simple problem to fix. New document management systems can be implemented in smaller departments to reduce the stress on the project team who can concentrate their few resources on a small project to find issues, resolve them, and get feedback from users.

Then those using the system can also be part of the wider document management software implementation team. When the system is adopted by another department, they can be part of the training and engagement team, helping new departments to successfully adopt the new system.

While this may make projects more lengthy, it does make it easier for project teams and reduce the chances of failure.

By understanding these four problem areas, you can ensure your document management software project is a success.

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