Mixed media systems are a mix of digital and paper solutions. Chosen to reduce paper costs and inefficiencies, it’s the middle ground between paper and digital systems.
While mixed media solutions allow for file sharing and limited collaboration, they may fall short of your policy management needs. In this section, we’ll explore three common tools that organizations use in conjunction with paper.
Shared (Intranet) drives
An internal shared drive saves office space and allows for easier document access while in the office. The problem is employees can’t access shared drives remotely, which is exacerbated if your employees need to reference policies in the field to do their jobs.
Not to mention, documents on shared drives can easily get duplicated, lost, or deleted. And since shared drives have limited tagging and linking capabilities, they can be confusing for employees to navigate.
Signing and tracking documents
Quality policy management tools let you collect signatures on important documents.
If you’re using a shared drive, the sign-off process usually involves printing a PDF document, signing it, and scanning it back onto the drive. Not only is this process time consuming, but it leaves room for error.
- Signed documents can easily get misplaced
- It’s hard tracking who has signed a document
- You have to manually remind staff to sign
- Lack of data security while documents lay on desks
While email is still an important tool for communication, it doesn’t have workflow, smart editing, or tracking functionality. Some organization is possible via folders, but how many of your coworkers have organized email accounts? It’s far too easy for emails to get deleted, lost, or stored improperly for it to be a reliable policy management tool.
Microsoft Teams helps small to medium sized teams communicate and collaborate. The larger your organization, or the more teams you have, the more disorganized the app becomes. Why? Teams is highly compartmentalized. You can create teams, channels within those teams, and tabs within channels, but as you create more, the number of places housing information increases exponentially, making it difficult to access important content.
Designed to be a central hub for all communication, Teams lets you co-author documents, track revision history, and integrate with various apps to expand its capabilities. Unfortunately, workflow functionality is limited, you can’t map policies to standards, and there’s no training component.
Learn more about Microsoft Teams here.
What is mixed media costing you?
Using a shared drive may cut down on some of the costs associated with paper filing, but it has some of the same pitfalls. You’ll still have to spend a lot of time maintaining and distributing documents.
Collaboration is overly complicated as well, with administrators having to keep track of conflicting digital files.
Mixed media policy management systems don’t allow for customizable security options. On most shared drives, everyone has access to everything. Research by Forrester has shown that 25% of data breaches were insider jobs, and 36% were the result of employee mistakes.
Mixed media systems can pose even more security risks than paper systems, because it’s easier for employees to alter, delete, or share files.
Plus, on-site shared drives still leave organizations at risk of losing all their files. Hard drives crash. Computers break. Files get damaged. In-office backup systems aren’t always guaranteed to work.
When files are stored on a computer or shared drive, accidents happen. It’s easy to unintentionally create duplicates of documents.
Let’s say you distribute paper or email copies of a new policy but forget to update the version on the drive. This can leave employees referencing the wrong policy, which can throw a wrench in operations, lead to fines, and create liability risks.
Many organizations keep spreadsheets of important due dates. But without automated reminders, administrators will have to manually manage updates, due dates, employee sign-offs, and more.
When leaders make policy changes, there’s no easy way to track who made a change and when.
In the digital age, there’s no need to keep relying on these cumbersome, manual processes.
Discover more benefits of using electronic records instead of paper.
3. Digital policy management
There are many digital policy management systems on the market. These cloud-based systems do what paper-based and mixed media systems can’t. Though more expensive upfront, they save you money in the long run. Let’s explore two popular, but very different, digital solutions.
Many organizations use or consider using SharePoint as their digital policy management system. But its ubiquity alone shouldn’t compel you to get it. Here are some of the pros and cons.
SharePoint is a system for document storage and management. As a platform, SharePoint is super customizable, meaning if you have the expertise and time, it can be tailored to meet your organization’s needs. As part of Microsoft Office, it integrates with the entire Microsoft Office suite, so you can easily use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Finally, SharePoint lets you manage document security, track changes in a limited capacity, and go paperless.
SharePoint has limited out-of-the-box functionality. Most organizations can’t simply buy the platform and start using it. SharePoint takes significant setup and will require help from a developer to customize the platform for your needs. While you may have an in-house developer, getting the most out of SharePoint and maintaining it often takes a developer experienced with SharePoint specifically.
For many organizations, SharePoint requires employee training. And from a cost and time perspective, it’s not cheap if you have more than a few employees. Lastly, SharePoint has poor search functionality, making it difficult to access the many policies stored in the system.
PowerDMS is a policy management software that creates a living connection between your policies, accreditation, and training. Forged in the public safety sector, PowerDMS now serves 3,500+ public and private sector organizations worldwide with secure, cloud-based solutions.
PowerDMS allows for policy creation, workflows, version control, distribution, attestation tracking, and much more. Key data, like who revised or signed a document and when, is grouped with each respective policy to create a library of living documents. Built with policy managers in mind, it lets you customize admin rights, map policies to standards, and upload a variety of content (images, videos, audio, documents). Here are some additional features:
- Centralized storage
- Automated workflows
- Acknowledgement tracking
- Real-time notifications
- Version control
- Access control
- Powerful search
- Side-by-side comparison
- Integrations (Microsoft Office, Adobe)
- Mobile functionality
PowerDMS is not a content provider, but they do have content partners they can connect you with, as well as a tool for subscribing to relevant policy content from publishers. With policy, accreditation, and training features, PowerDMS is a fairly comprehensive solution. So while it can save you time and money long term, it will take an investment of time upfront to learn the platform.
What is a digital system costing you?
Although digital policy management systems are more expensive upfront, the good ones will ultimately save you time and money. The trick is doing the research to find the right solution for your organization.
The right solution is one that checks every box on your list of non-negotiables. Conversely, the wrong solution can create gaps in your compliance, leading to inefficiencies, wasted time, fines, lawsuits, and brand disrepute.
Taking the time to research solutions, schedule demos, and experiment with free trials will pay dividends in the long run. Learn more about the top five problems most organizations encounter in regard to policy, training, and accreditation.