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Role of a Document Manager

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A document manager is a member of the IT staff whose goal is to organize, update and improve the overall workflow of documentation within a company.
Corporations are the largest employers of document managers, although certain industries--such as larger real estate firms, legal services, financing, health care and insurance--are likely to having a document manager on hand regardless of size. Most document manager positions require a minimum of one to three years of previous experience; however, recent college graduates with specialized training can move directly into the position. Proficiency with specific software, such as document management systems and/or customer relation management programs, is essential to the job function. Document managers have five main job responsibilities: increasing accessibility, archiving documents, updating information, recording traceability and retrieving documents.

Increase Accessibility

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Employees need access to documents such as cover letters, marketing materials, tutorials and client information to complete their work. Traditionally, employees have saved these files directly onto their hard drives for future access, but there's an inherent risk that the files will become outdated. In addition, employees can waste precious time combing their hard drives for documents that they never downloaded.
A document management system resolves all of these problems. It creates a focal point where all documents are saved. Furthermore, those same documents can be shared with staff and clients through a website. Most document management systems can output to a website easily; the benefit is that it's accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and doesn't require additional software or installations to view (it may require a username and password, but that can be specified).

Archiving Documents

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The IRS requires financial institutions to keep any documentation related to a client for five years after the account is closed. The Department of Justice requires an even longer time frame for law offices, which means that all those files need to go somewhere. Document managers typically archive documents chronologically, although some prefer alphabetically depending on the amount of information to be stored. If it's a paperless office, then the documents should backed up (in two separate locations), then purged from the server.

Updating Documents

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Depending on the size of the organization, writing skills may be a key element to the role of a document manager. Cover letters, templates, and tutorials require constant updates to remain relevant. Furthermore, privacy statements, blank contracts and technical documents receive minor tweaks approximately once a year.
Whether or not the document manager makes these changes personally, it will be his responsibility to ensure that everyone is using the most up-to-date versions. The simplest way to do this is by using a document management system.

Recording Traceability

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Documents change, and it's the document manager's responsibility to know who made what changes. Traceability is a standard feature in most document management software. However, a document manager can track traceability without the software by making every document read-only, and then logging requested changes as they are received.

Retrieving Documents

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There will be times when a document manager needs to find items that are already archived. Most often, this is because of audits, lawsuits, and natural disasters--all of which require meticulous records of past events. For that reason, document managers need to archive materials as logically and accurately as possible. This way, any document manager can access those needed records, regardless of who originally stored them. When it comes to preparing for natural disasters, store a backup of the office server somewhere outside of the office. If possible, store it in a different region such as a satellite office.


Brad Beauchamp is a nonfiction writer with an emphasis in how-to guides, tips & product reviews. He received a creative writing degree from Appalachian State University and resides in Portland, Oregon. His work appears in Rainbow Wedding Network Magazine, Dental Entrepreneur, and online.