Effective management of business documents in Microsoft 365

Many organizations face challenges in navigating their vast array of documents or figuring out which version is the one to trust. The struggle to locate critical information amidst a sea of results is a common frustration, highlighting the need for a structured approach to document management.

Research shows that effective document management practices contribute to organizational efficiency and have a positive impact on productivity, compliance, and employee empowerment.

In this article, we explore the underlying problems, strategies for addressing them, and the essential steps required to master document management in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Learn even more by downloading this comprehensive guide to effective document management.

Navigating documents in Microsoft 365 – what is the challenge?

Have you ever found yourself struggling to locate a specific document on your intranet or within your Microsoft 365 tenant? It's a common frustration, and it probably happened not too long ago.

The issue isn't necessarily that we can't find documents related to our queries, but rather that we're overwhelmed with too many results—and determining which document is the most reliable can be challenging.

If you're searching for your notes from yesterday's meeting, it might not be a significant loss if they're temporarily misplaced. However, if you're trying to locate a critical work instruction, checklist, or product documentation, the consequences of not finding it—or discovering an outdated version—could be far more severe.

However, poor findability is merely a symptom of a larger issue. The real problem in this scenario is likely a lack of structure and governance that organizations can use to effectively manage documents for all stakeholders.

Crafting the document management blueprint

Effective document management practices contribute to organizational efficiency and have a positive impact on productivity, compliance, and employee empowerment. However, there is more to document management than just implementing powerful systems and streamlining processes for creating, controlling, publishing, and improving documents within an organization.

While having all the necessary features makes life easier, it's not a guarantee of effective document management or compliance. It takes additional effort to truly make it work.

The first step towards effective document management is to develop a solid strategy—a plan for how to handle documents within your organization. This plan should encompass information policies for all common document types, including governance aspects such as properties, templates, workflows, retention, and more.

And importantly, your document plan must be understood and adopted by all employees. So don’t miss out on communication, training, and following up on alignment with the plan.

Laying the Groundwork: Configuring the solution

Once you have a solid strategy in place, the next step is to set up and configure a solution that meets your document requirements. This will include definitions and centralized management of document types, templates, properties, workflows, and more.

In many cases, it will be cumbersome to set up a document management solution that fulfills your requirements based only on SharePoint, Teams, and other M365 apps. For setting up and monitoring an organization-wide governance concept, you might want to consider also using an additional product like Omnia to fulfill your requirements on managing documents.

Subsequently, you need to ensure that document owners and authors can easily create, publish, and manage documents according to the plan.

This can be done by setting up workspaces for document owners and authors where the governance concept is inherited in platforms like Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and your intranet. Here, it will be easy to create, publish, and manage documents aligned with the strategy.

Delivering an intuitive document experience

Additionally, providing a seamless user experience is essential, ensuring that documents are surfaced in the right context—whether they're important business documents or personal meeting notes. You will need to define how to make it simple for end-users to find documents in a relevant context using navigation and search.

Finally, you'll also need mechanisms to monitor all controlled documents within the organization, track expired reviews, establish feedback channels, and more to continuously improve documents and the overall solution.

In conclusion, mastering controlled document management in Microsoft 365 requires a strategic approach, effective governance, easy-to-use authoring and publishing tools, a seamless user experience, and continuous monitoring and improvement.

By following the principles outlined above and leveraging the capabilities of Microsoft 365 and Omnia, organizations can establish a robust document management solution that enhances efficiency, ensures compliance, and promotes collaboration across the organization.

If you wish to learn more about effective document management, make sure to download this comprehensive guide to effective document management.