Are you getting the most out of your project documents? Top 5 reasons why you need a document management strategy

19 September 2011
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It’s incredible how low the cost of memory has dropped!  I recently purchased an 8GB mini SD card for my Blackberry for under $20, when considering I paid over $1000 for a PC back in 1999 with an 8GB hard drive.  With today’s amazingly affordable access to cheap storage, organizations are increasingly drowning in the data they gather.

In today’s project environment capturing and storing project information is limitless.  On the flip side, extracting and accessing relevant information quickly and efficiently has begun to pose a growing problem to stakeholders and project managers that are required to make informed decisions impacting their active projects.   For many project environments, mission critical data tends to reside in unstructured formats in Word and Excel documents and emails.  The biggest challenge organization’s face is accessing and managing critical information sitting in these unstructured and siloed formats.  In our age of information overload, businesses are constantly looking for better ways to extract and analyze existing strategic information.

Here are my 5 reason why your organization needs to implement a document management strategy to better manage projects:

1)     Improve visibility for better decision making – In our current market where there are increasingly slimmer margins, more competition and customer expectations are greater, the right document strategy will allow for a centralized access to your project information to better respond to market conditions and customer issues.  Better visibility will ensure that you are delivering superior services while keeping a close eye on your costs to maintain your profitability.

2)     Streamline business processes – During the life cycle of a project, it is not atypical for project stakeholders and team members to continuously exchange documents for approval and review.  The right document management strategy will facilitate this process so that stakeholders review relevant information efficiently by eliminating redundancies and inconsistencies that can cloud the team’s judgement and slow down the progress of projects.

3)     Facilitate better collaboration among stakeholders – Probably the biggest reason for better document management can be attributed to improved collaboration among project teams.  A predominant reason projects are successful can be related to the effectiveness of a team to collaborate with each other.  As knowledge workers, the ability to easily access all project documents in a single location and quickily share information with customers and co-workers can mean the difference between success and failure.

4)     Establish best practices and lessons learned library – A well thought out document management strategy will not only help with your current workload, but will provide a baseline for future initiatives.  When planning and executing on future projects, having the ability to mine past projects of a similar fashion can help mitigate risks and improve performance.

5)     Develop project templates to support governance framework – It is one thing to establish a project governance framework for your organization, it is another thing to ensure adherence to the best practices guidelines you have in place.  A typical project can have up to 50 associated documents.  As a result, an effective document strategy will deliver a template for success simplifying the adoption and adherence to the established project governance framework in place.

To learn more about my thoughts on managing project documents, please refer to my recent webcast and white paper on the subject.  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

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