Maintaining Compliance through Document Management

Nov 18, 2020 10:54:42 AM

Because of the severity of potential legal and financial consequences, maintaining compliance with local and federal regulations for data protection and reporting is increasingly important. 

Your clients trust you to keep their data secure, and your partners and investors trust you to dot every “i” and cross every “t” to ensure that they don’t accrue financial penalties from lack of compliance with any level of government oversight. 

But how does a business maintain that kind of security and compliance without drowning their workforce in paperwork? By implementing a quality management system (QMS) to optimize document management standard operating procedures (SOPs), increase security and accountability, and create standardized workflows.

How do companies manage documents?

To recognize how optimized document management can help your business, you first need to understand what can happen without it. Without a QMS, your SOPs are significantly more vulnerable to human error. 

If you forgo digital systems for certain documents and only use paper copies, you run the risk of losing a valuable part of your document from something as simple as a spilled coffee cup. A document could be shredded by accident before a copy was made. 

The wrong person could view the document, putting you out of compliance with any number of regulatory organizations depending on the nature of your business. Not only that, but it will take longer for updates to make their way into your documents.

What are the problems you can solve with an effective document management system?

There are other dangers that can arise without a QMS. A team working on a shared document can throw confidentiality and compliance out the window if a team member simply hits “reply all” by accident, sending that document to everyone in the company.

Additionally, shared documents often lack version control—meaning they can be altered without the ability to revert to an earlier version if the changes made to the document are not in compliance.

These issues among others can be avoided by creating standard operating procedures around an established quality management system. A QMS reduces human error, strengthens confidentiality, increases the speed at which your documents are available, and ensures the accuracy of the information therein. 

Document Management and Compliance

A regulatory document management system maintains compliance along multiple vectors. 

By strengthening data protection, automating processes to ensure SOPs are followed, providing auditing functions, and controlling workflows, document management software keeps you squarely in-line with government compliance policies.

  • Strengthening Data Protection
    Perhaps the simplest way to protect data is to limit the number of people that can access it.

    Something like a Google Doc can be accessed by anyone who gets the link, which is secure in theory—but one misclick and everyone on a given team member’s contact list now has access.

    Document management software limits access to only those people who should have access. That ensures compliance with confidentiality regulations, such as HIPAA. 

  • Automating Processes
    Inconsistencies in SOPs contribute to errors that can put your company out of compliance.

    A more automated document management system removes those inconsistencies by creating consistent SOPs across departments and entire organizations.

    When your processes are designed and automated with compliance in mind, the risk of any single team member breaking compliance is significantly reduced.

  • Providing Auditing Functions
    Key to any compliance document management is the ability to audit.

    Having the capability to quickly and efficiently go through the changes and updates made in your documents helps you catch any errors that risk compliance early and get that information to the people who made those errors so that they can correct their methods in the future.

    Auditing functionality also makes reporting to regulatory agencies simpler because you already have a way to gather the information they need for their external audits. Tracking exactly who accesses a document allows for ease when confidentiality of information is legally required by regulations such as HIPAA. Auditing functions also allow for financial reporting both internally and to regulatory organizations like the SEC.

  • Controlling Workflows
    Without document management software, team member workflows and processes may vary from department to department or even from person to person.

    Think about a department-wide email. As team members respond, the replies can get jumbled because some people are responding to the original message, some to the first few replies, and some to the replies that came after the first few responses. The same thing can happen to your documents when SOPs aren’t firmly established.

    Without consistent SOPs from person to person, the same two people may try to change a document simultaneously. Important parts of the document could be deleted without a backup, or any number of other human errors could occur.

    Using a quality management system controls documents and makes workflows procedurally uniform.

    Establishing processes to regulate how changes are made to a document ensures redundancy is avoided while putting accountability at the forefront.

    Changing documents within an automated SOP also ensures past versions of that document are maintained in the case that a retired version of the document must be brought back because the changes that were made were out of compliance.

Bringing Your Document Management Up to Speed

Every industry’s compliance needs are different. That means a QMS designed to streamline document management SOPs must be customizable and scalable and able to integrate with the established architecture of the client organization. 

Creating uniform procedures for the initiation and completion of changes to a document as well as retiring and cataloging older versions reduces confusion and improves the efficacy of the document editing process. Auditing functionalities increase worker accountability and transparency with clients and regulatory agencies. 

Automating your document management with M-Files and ContentWorX from TEAM IM provides the benefits you need to stay compliant while streamlining your processes and making your workflows more efficient and accountable.

Automation and greater uniformity in SOPs ensure your work remains in compliance and allows for greater internal quality control thanks to auditing functions.

Avoid costly human errors that can lead to mistrust from customers or even legal action from oversight agencies. 

Keep your organization in good legal stead with a high-quality, customized document management system. Contact TEAM IM today.

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think