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Accreditation is widely regarded as a valuable process for law enforcement agencies, but one that also requires so much effort that many organizations avoid it altogether. This doesn’t have to be the case. Digital document management systems can empower you to simplify accreditation processes, enable efficient file sharing and help you track different versions of documents to ensure they are up to industry standards. Furthermore, cost-efficient document management software solutions are increasingly available on the market as service providers make their technologies available via Web apps that you can pay for on a subscription basis, avoiding hardware investments.

With all of these potential benefits in place, going digital alone can go a long way to simplify accreditation. On top of that, these five tips can help you take a fledgling digital strategy and turn it into a plan that will streamline accreditation and fuel value creation:

1. Get a dedicated auditing module
Leading document management software platforms feature dedicated auditing modules that let you put your policies on the screen side-by-side with regulatory guidelines. From here, you can go one-by-one through all of the changes to the law while looking at your policy to ensure it is in line with the requirement.

2. Take advantage of internal reporting
A digital document management system can track who has signed off on which policies, how long users have had documents and left them untouched, who has completed different training modules and even who has made edits to different documents. These capabilities make auditing much easier as you can quickly identify the pain points that are coming between you and a successful report.

3. Don’t try to do it all at once
With reporting, regulatory audits and similar capabilities all built into the document management framework, you can easily maintain best practices in real time. For example, your managers can be sent notifications if users have not responded to policies after a present amount of time, preventing you from having to track people down when it comes time to get accredited. Instead of making accreditation a huge, one-time project, focus on consistently maintaining best practices, and the accreditation process will be much simpler.

4. Constantly refine your documents
Many law enforcement agencies end up in a situation where their policy handbook is a dusty binder that is mostly copied from a larger entity that has had time to create its own documents. You need to take the time to customize and continually refine your policies to make them fit your specific operational requirements. Otherwise, you could perform an audit and find that many of the policies you should be enforcing aren’t really relevant. Track changes functions, built-in collaboration tools and similar document management system capabilities simplify this process.

5. Bring in a new set of eyes
A good DMS will let you add new users and adjust authorizations on the fly. This lets you bring in a specialist, perhaps a colleague from another department, to provide an external view on your documents without having a formal audit.

Accreditation doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and modern DMS tools are making the process simple enough that it is becoming an accessible value creation tool.