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Use this electronic document management system implementation checklist to give your business the best chance of a successful SharePoint EDMS launch.

✓ Create a project plan

This sounds obvious but it can be tempting to just dive in and start migrating documents to your new EDMS without a plan. But the implementation of an EDMS is a major change and should be managed as such to avoid wasted effort and expense, compliance issues, and disenchanted staff.

The size and complexity of your business will determine the scope of the project and the amount of planning required, but even a very small business needs to consider such things as:

  • what types of documents you have and how they are used
  • what regulatory requirements relate to document management in your industry, e.g. mandatory retention periods
  • what you need the system to do
  • how security and user access will be managed and by whom
  • what the communication and training requirements are.

It’s advisable to assign a full-time project manager and engage a specialist consultant who can advise the project team on how to make an electronic document management system implementation succeed.

✓ Consider taking a stepwise approach

Allow scope in your project plan to start with some small wins and build on them. For example, you might start by implementing the new EDMS in only one division. This approach offers a couple of advantages. Firstly, any issues that arise are easier to deal with and can give you an idea of what could go wrong during a larger implementation in which the stakes are higher. If you need to roll back to your current system, you won’t have lost too much. Second, if staff outside the test division see a well-executed implementation and an EDMS that’s working well, it’s easier for them to adopt the system when it’s rolled out to the whole organisation.

✓ Enlist an enthusiastic test group

The people involved in testing the new system should be those who are suffering the most from the lack of an EDMS and would welcome anything that’s going to help them. You probably already have an idea of which group(s) that would be in your organisation. By involving these people in the testing phase, you get a cooperative group that will help you work through any teething problems with the new tool, and some of them will be ‘promoters’ who’ll help sell the new system to the rest of the business.

If at all possible, avoid imposing testing on an unwilling or over-burdened group. It will be an uphill battle and you’ll be less likely to get positive messages spreading about the new system. While it’s true that staff have to work with the tools they’re given, it’s so much easier for everyone if staff feel they’ve had some input to the change.

✓ Train staff in how to use the data

To really get the most out of your electronic document management system implementation, train your staff in how to make use of the system’s powerful search capabilities. If you’re switching from a paper-based system or a disjointed collection of electronic systems, staff may be unaccustomed to thinking about the ways in which they can use the data that is now available to them.
The real power of an EDMS is that it holds all your important business information in one place and makes it available to staff to help them make informed decisions for the business.

✓ Allow for the necessary cultural change

An electronic document management system implementation is not just a technological change; for the staff who have to use the system, it represents a cultural change, as well. There will be a period of adjustment during which some staff will grab the new technology and run with it, while others try to cling to the old way of doing things. Allow time for the necessary cultural shift to take place, accepting that some staff will take a little longer than others to feel at home with the new way of working.
If possible, involve an executive sponsor for the project from the start, so staff hear regularly about the benefits of the new system from the top down. A couple of promoters within the ranks can also be helpful in building enthusiasm for and acceptance of the change.

If this checklist has given you food for thought and you’d like to know more about how to plan your electronic document management implementation, contact a QikSolve consultant today for a complimentary chat about your project.