Innovation in the everyday: Why document search and retrieval is the key to a sophisticated operation

Posted on 19 December 2023

What could you do with a third more hours in the day? This is how much of the day the average UK worker spends on general administration tasks.

While admin tasks are essential to a lot of roles to keep tasks running smoothly document management brings even the most patient of professionals a great deal of frustration.

Many firms will have servers, hard drives and folders full of documents and data. This creates its own challenges when it comes to quickly finding and retrieving information quickly – especially where lots of different people and departments manage documents.

I am sure we have all spent too much time trying to hunt down that all-important document, only to find it was mislabelled or stored in a place we weren’t expecting.

As practices turn to technology to improve efficiency, this is one area which remains largely overlooked and that has become somewhat complicated further by the many different practice management and accounting platforms that firms now operate on.

However, there is a solution and like many of the best innovations, it utilises the power of the cloud and automation.

Implementing the latest cloud-based search and retrieval technology – fully integrated into major practice and project management software – could help you retrieve some of those precious hours.

Let’s take a deeper look at the frustrations that commonly affect those involved in document management, search and retrieval – and how we can make the transition to efficiency hassle-free.

Searching for efficiency

From practice management to complex project delivery, spreadsheets and PDFs to that presentation you’re giving this afternoon, easy document search and retrieval is essential to a smooth operation.

However, this isn’t always the way of things.

Across our breadth of client work and research, we’ve identified the most common frustrations that an inefficient search and retrieval system can cause – especially where data is siloed across many different locations.

The secret time waster

Spending time searching for documents saved to a server or generic cloud area can take up too much of your time.

You might have to run through a number of keywords before you reach the one that brings up the document that you need, or else have to work through many irrelevant results.

Sifting through documents can be frustrating at best but, at worst, can mean missed deadlines and work lost in the aether.

Poor collaboration

In teams where team collaboration is pivotal, an efficient document management system facilitates smoother cooperation.

This has become all the more essential as practices establish more permanent hybrid working models.

When team members cannot easily access and share documents, they may not be working with the same version of the document – resulting in lost work and time.

We’ve all accidentally saved over the latest version of a document, and it’s frustrating and potentially disastrous if a crucial piece of work has been lost.

It also has the potential to cause frustration and poor teamwork if an important document cannot be easily found and edited.

However, it is the client that ultimately suffers. I am sure many of us have dealt with a client who is angry or frustrated over poor speed of service caused by misplaced or miss labelled files.

Poor document management can have a big impact on your delivery of service and, therefore, your wider reputation as a practice.

Repeating the cycle

Many traditional document management systems or servers do not allow teams to save searches, meaning that you’ll be spending more time than necessary searching for the same file or document.

At the top of the scale

Offline servers tend to become overwhelmed when businesses grow and need to hold on to a lot of legacy data alongside current client projects.

When a server is full, you’ll either have to switch over to a more expensive system or risk losing important documents.

Missing the mark on project delivery

Project management often involves handling numerous documents, including plans, reports, and correspondence.

An inefficient system may cause delays by information bottlenecks – knocking projects off track and directly impacting the success and timely delivery of projects.

The new way to operate

With expert guidance, continual training and seamless integration, dynamic search and retrieval applications play a key role in saving time and preventing mistakes in administrative tasks such as document management.

Centralised document storage

Unlock impressive efficiencies with cloud-based platforms that offer a centralised repository where all necessary documents can be stored within easy reach.

This gets rid of the need for a physical data storage system which can be costly and also take up a lot of space. Additionally, it cannot be searched in the same way as a central, secure system.

This can help you to eliminate stress and build a better collaborative structure between your teams.

Filing cabinets

With cutting-edge search and retrieval software, you can organise documents in a way that suits your unique operational needs.

For example, keep each client’s projects in a different online space, or divide your documents into different working areas.

This not only makes them easier to find, but it helps you to avoid confusing documents for different clients – reducing error and saving you time and money.

Filter, your way

With search filtration, you can make sure that you get the right result, first time, without having to comb through pages of similar documents or work for other clients.

Similarly, if your chosen system offers an exclusion filter, you can avoid spending time sorting through irrelevant documents and reduce the potential for mistakes or mix-ups.

Preserve frequent searches

Avoid time-consuming repeat searches by saving your most frequent enquiries.

You’ll be able to deliver a better client experience with all the information you need at your fingertips, minimising the possibility of giving a client outdated information and damaging your reliability.

This will also make retrieving shared documents easier if the system is shared since it can appear in each person’s most common searches.

Automated filing

With automated document filing tailored to your operations, you’ll find your documents in the places you expect.

This removes a large amount of personnel error and inconsistency from the filing process and the search and retrieval process.

Simple migration

By integrating with existing systems such as IRIS and Xero, an efficient document management system that finds things easily is simple to implement – saving you time and effort that can be rededicated to client work.

The time to act

As we head into the new year, make it your New Year’s resolution to embrace efficient document management, search and retrieval to set your team on the path to success.

FYI can deliver an alternative to offline servers, integrating into the most popular cloud-based systems to relieve the pain of poor document management and searching.

Ultimately, efficient document retrieval may seem trivial, but it’s central to delivering a great experience to clients and within your team.

By removing a major source of delays, confusion, missing work and inconsistency, you’ll be making a significant investment in the operations of your business – one that’s certainly worth it!

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