Yes, you read me correctly. Document Management Systems these days are too flexible. You may say, “the customer is always right,” and while I agree with that, I challenge you to define who the customer is.
The customer is the Custodian of the Records or the Document Repository Manager. It always ends up being one person. Even in large multinational companies and corporations run by committee, it always ends up being one person. This one person is responsible for defining the structure and process by which the system will function and operate. The customer is not every user of the system.
So what do I mean when I say Document Management Systems are too flexible?
They allow ANY end user to define his or her own naming conventions and create and modify the file structure. The result is not pretty. It’s worse than the unstructured digital disaster that exists on most people’s computers or networks.
The main reasons for implementing a Document Management System are file sharing and collaboration. The key to sharing documents is the ability to share them within a standard structure. Content management was, after all, born out of standards and structure. And it needs to stay that way.
Granting every member of the team the right to name documents according to their own rules or document structures – because that’s how it’s always been done – defeats the entire purpose of implementing a content management system.
When a systems is too flexible, it is the responsibility of the Document Repository Manager to define and design a file structure with naming standards that will simplify collaboration across the entire organization. Doing this will insure that every member of the team files documents the same way so that later the documents are easy to find.
When it comes down to it, the only reason you file a document is to find it later. So, make it easy to find. When (not if) you implement a Document Management System, define and enforce a rigid filing and naming structure for your entire team. Your users will hate you for it, and they will love you for it.