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Document Management in Small Organizations

1 March 2011
Sivan Arar Reuven
A computer with a file folder in the screen

2011. ROM Company is yet a tiny organization with over 20 employees.

As a company responsible for providing consulting services to organizations, we produce various documents. The documents generally relate to clients (organizations), types of activities, stages during the project, and so on.

As a company with "knowledge management" emblazoned on its banner (and in our case, we don't want to go barefoot), we want to provide an efficient document management and sharing solution.

Let's start with some background and take ourselves as a case study for a small organization.

The characteristics of ROM Company as a small organization are:

  • Over 20 employees

  • Most employees are consultants who are primarily out of the office

  • Knowledge management as a way of life

  • A learning organization

ROM Company's needs from knowledge management:

  • Sharing knowledge (professional and organizational)

  • Ongoing learning

  • Carrying out similar projects

  • Advising different clients with similar characteristics and needs

  • Classifying knowledge

  • Accessing knowledge from multiple sources:

    • Network drive

    • Articles from ROM's website. (All methodological documents are stored on the company's website; this is part of the solution components)

    • ROM-Portal

    • Lessons Learned Knowledgebase

Therefore, we have identified several possible solutions for document management:

  • Off-the-shelf document management products

    • Disadvantage - expensive for a small organization

  • Using a network drive -- existing (all consultants have laptops synced with the shared drive)

    • Disadvantages:

      • It must provide a solution for multiple classifications (classified by clients and not by project stages, types of deliverables, etc.).

      • It does not provide a solution for knowledge sharing, such as organizational updates on new documents created, etc.

  • An organizational portal

The solution chosen at ROM Company - Establishing an organizational portal combined with a shared network drive

  • Uploading selected documents to the portal from the shared network drive

  • Classifying documents by:

    • Stage in the life cycle (of the project)

    • Topic

    • Document Type

  • The features are dynamic and can be expanded and changed

  • Searching the portal is performed on articles on the website as well as on insights (lessons learned)

  • A dedicated space for organizational information:

    • Announcements

    • Procedures

    • Link to the hour reporting system

  • Automatic updates are sent via email

The portal was developed "in-house" and is cheaper than purchasing an off-the-shelf product. It is tailored to our needs since it was "tailor-made" specifically for us according to the needs we raised. For example, as a knowledge management company, it was important that the navigation menu be dynamic to change the topic tree according to the desired context (topic/document type/life cycle stage) - this is a highly convenient feature.

The combined solution allows us to routinely save documents on the shared network drive according to our work processes, meaning according to the project/client we are working on.

Saving selected documents in the portal allows us to share knowledge and learn from each other (did we already mention a learning organization?)., and we receive automatic email reminders of this every week.

In summary, this solution shows that even small organizations can manage and share their documents without investing significant funds in products intended for large organizations. Therefore, this is also an infrastructural solution for us, which constitutes a general infrastructure available for purchase and adoption by similar organizations, each tailoring its characteristics to suit itself.

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