Why Information Control increases the value of your company?
Are you the person who stores everything important on your desktop? Or do you print everything important but you end up having a messy office?
Maybe you store documentation on your laptop and no-one can get to them only you, but what happens if the laptop brakes?
I’m sure you came across with a situation when you needed one particular document but you had no idea where to find it! Let that be a receipt, a contract, an email or just a piece of documentation that you needed to process the task further and you wasted half an hour just to find it. Then you find it, you are relieved but then you realise that is just part of it and the part you are looking for is not there! And then you spend another half an hour to search for that part! Familiar?
Imagine how much information is shared via email, and now think about your email provider: they allow you to create folders, create labels, use flags and colours. Do you use them?
This can work on a personal level but it can be very challenging to manage your business documentation through a simple email colours even if you are a one-man business.
We process thousands of information throughout one day but can we find them instantly when we actually need them? Almost every company struggles with information control!
How to handle and control information can be the weakest link of your company and can cost enormous time for you because your employees are spending time to find a piece of information. Just imagine how much time an information control system CAN save if you or your employees know where to find each information? So you are not wasting money paying salaries for searching a document but to do real work. Huge difference, do you agree?
Nowadays Information Control is extremely important and compulsory within big organisations for several reasons. However it doesn’t matter how big you are. I strongly recommend to have it from early stage in your business.
But hold on what do we call information control?
It is an organized system for collecting documents and their information (finance, contracts, social media materials, project management, orders, plans and progress reports – just to mention a few) and storing them in a common environment within the business. Store it in a systemized way so anyone who has the right knows where the given information is stored and can access the data instantly.
Why do we need this?
The purpose is to ensure that everyone uses the correct and the most current documentation at all times. So for example in a property renovation business the builder gets the approved version of the design and not the one which was in development phase. Over the years I have seen huge problems in construction when the contractor had several versions of a drawing and they could not figure out which drawing they should build. It might make you smile, but I promise you don’t smile when it happens to you.
Information Control also governs document quality. It has to be in place if your organisation wants to achieve compliance to the ISO 9001 certification. You will need to provide certain documents such as quality manual, a quality policy and other specified documented procedure in order to achieve the ISO 9001.
All industries have their own reasons next to the above to have their information controlled. An off licence may need to see their orders in order to fulfil a payment to the supplier. A construction company needs the right technical drawings in order to build the agreed design. A one-man business that provides services needs to see the agreed service with their clients from time to time. And the list can go on and on…
What can you do? What can you implement?
There are different options you have and that you can easily implement if you are a small business:
- Organise your emails (start using labels and signs within your mailbox)
- Store your documents on a cloud based area (Dropbox, iCloud, Pcloud, etc)
- Have a simple register on what information came in and went out
- Have a step by step guide in place how you process documents
If you want to do it more advanced, then:
- Draw up a detailed process which describes the who, what, how and when
- Use a code for each document so it doesn’t matter what the document title is, you know exactly from the code what it is and what it contains
- Get an expert who has the relevant experience of setting up a system, teaching your team to use it and advise you in the future
- Have a dedicated person who deals with documentation – Document Controller
The sooner you start it the better because not just you but your employees will have a clear understanding where and how the business documents are stored, so it’s easy to find the right ones in case anyone needs it.
A great system in place also ensures your employers work as a team and at the same time you can avoid keeping the business’ documents in different areas (worst is when someone stores the documentation on their hard drive and they leave the company!). You also mitigate losing the documents if they are deposited on a cloud-based area. And all the above is a good way towards ISO 9001 if you decide to have it one day.
“Having information control in place inevitably increases the value of you company when the time comes to sell it.”- Orsi Nagy
When the time comes to sell your company, you will be able to give a proper directory of all the documentation as part of your company’s manual. Remember people are willing to pay more for things like this when it comes to buy a business.