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  • Writer's pictureAnnette Wierstra

Document Management: Creating Order Out of Chaos

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

It’s not enough to write procedures and policies. You must organize them to make them usable.

Gone are the days when we slammed a load of procedures in a binder and forgot about them. This is a good thing (mostly). While having your procedures in the cloud, in a project or learning management system, or in a shared drive seemingly makes it easy to store and share files, it does come with complications.

If you are dealing with a digital mess of files and are feeling frustrated because it isn’t working, you aren’t alone. This is a common challenge in our information age. We’ve never seen a client with a flawless system, and you may never get that perfect system that works for everyone in all situations.

When we talk to clients who are working with a pile of unique documents, often numbering into the hundreds, sometimes into the thousands, we focus on three things when it comes to document management.

  1. Document Version Control How do you clearly number, date, or record information in the document itself so it is easy to determine which version is the most current? Do you need to maintain a record of revisions for auditing or certification?

  2. Document Organization & File Management How are you organizing your files to optimize it so your employees can find what they need, when they need it?

  3. Controlled Document Access Who can change or move your files and who can't? How can employees notify you about how to make changes or updates?

There is no single correct answer to any of these questions, but there may answers that are more suited to your organization and work.

It may not seem like an important thing to consider but having good document management can help show due diligence, help meet audit requirements, and mitigate the risk of injury and property damage. If your team can’t find the right document quickly and easily, they may give up looking entirely. With some small but significant changes, you may not have a flawless system, but you can make it easier for everyone.

Over the next three weeks, we will tell you more about each of these methods for controlling and organizing your documents.


Annette has been working as a writer for nearly 25 years and an instructor for 12 years. She was inspired to write this series during some technical writing and plain language workshops. Participants kept coming up with great document management questions that led Annette to collate and organize these ideas into one spot. Special thanks to the City of Edmonton IT writing workshop participants who provided some excellent new technical ideas and expertise during workshop discussions. Contact us to book Annette or one of our other team members to work with you to manage your documents or book a workshop or presentation.

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