When we say “document management”, what we typically have in mind is how to organize the .doc, .xls and .pdf files of our business. This means that we usually don’t include web pages or blog posts in the term “document”, and go figure whether we include emails. A more accurate term would then be “document file management”. This is the term I’m going to use in the rest of this post. “Document file management”, or DFM, and “document file management system”, or DFMS.
The most common DFMS is the files and folders on your hard disk. As you know, it has the tendency to become a mess. A shared folder (or network drive, or file server, or Dropbox folder, or Google Drive, or however you choose to call it) is typically even messier. Your logistics business probably deserves something better.
While there’s a wealth of DFMS’s out there, offering great features such as versioning, tagging, searching, workflows, access control, etc, I think the first step should be to avoid having document files. If you think about it, document files are a remnant of the typewriter era. Before the computer network, if you wanted to distribute an internal memo, you typed it in Word, you printed into several hard copies, and you circulated it. Most people do the same thing today, with the exception that instead of printing it they’ll send an email with a .pdf attachment (or even a .doc attachment). There is no reason to do this (other than habit). A better (but still bad) way would be to send the email with everything in the email body, i.e. without attachment. A good way would be to publish the memo as a page or post on an internal web site or blog.
Of course you would still need to manage the information in the internal web site, and you’d still need versioning, tagging, searching, workflows, access control etc. You’d still need to manage documents, but not document files. The problem is quite different, and the software that does this is quite different.
What kind of files do you need to manage? Invoices for your clients? Maybe you need invoicing software instead. Vendor invoices? Maybe you need purchasing software. Excel files? The usage of Excel is very often a sign of insufficient organization or an indication of a software need.
You will never get rid of all your document files. However, getting into the “how to avoid document files” mentality will lead you to a different (and probably better) way of automating than getting a DFMS and putting all your stuff there.