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13. July 2020

How To Structure Your Use Of Document Templates

Anyone can create a document. But when it comes to creating a document template – setting guidelines and parameters etc – users are often faced with choice paralysis. Why? Because there are hundreds of different ways to go about it. Consistency is essential, particularly in large organisations with large amounts of legacy unstructured data. Let’s consider the issues and the different solutions out there.

A Document Mess

Most organisations struggle with structuring document templates as there are lots of different things to keep in mind – tricky when you need consistency. While it looks simple enough in Microsoft 365 Office – using the template library or a common setup – but in SharePoint, you simply can’t do central templating ‘out of the box.’ There are so many options that ultimately, users in different departments start doing things their way. That’s when issues begin to creep in. True, there may be minor issues like picking the wrong template (without logos) or choosing a bad company profile with wrong forms, for example.

However, when it comes to legal and compliance documents – such as contracts – having set templates for specific document types is critical. Some things have to be formatted a certain way. Others must follow a particular structure. And if they were to exclude critical legal terms or complex terms and conditions – which are not automatically added when a user creates a document – there can be real problems further down the line.

Centralising and Conforming Templates

When a company works in a shared system that includes ready templates, these problems disappear. With an adherent way of creating documents and a helpful wizard to guide the users, the software makes sure that they use the correct templates. It doesn’t matter if your company has over 2,000 different document templates – with the wizard, you get a handful of these to choose from. The system will instantly know which area you’re working in and only show you the handful of relevant samples.

However, templates also need to be updated and maintained. Using our tool, WorkPoint, you have one central location to manage all your templates, giving users with varying expertise levels access to these templates’ subsets. This control allows for perfect conformity across the organisation. When laws changes, for example, the assigned person changes the templates, and these edits are then made across all of the relevant documents.

GDPR is a great example – many things needed to change when these new regulations came about. People struggled to get things done correctly, in compliance with the new rules. But now, with a central template library, super users with the right expertise can access and update them. And when the users find the right templates for them with the help of a wizard, you can be confident in the organisational compliance.

The Importance Of Structured Metadata

Another important matter is tagging documents with metadata. You might have a business obligation to use specific metadata when storing your files. It also allows you to find data quickly. You can choose to add metadata manually in SharePoint or Microsoft 365, which takes quite a bit of time when you have to repeat the process for each document. A better way is to assign the correct metadata to your templates – which you can do directly in WorkPoint. The metadata is then added automatically to any template-created documents.

In this way, the user immediately gets the correct metadata added to their documents. The platform then recognises the context of the work and adds metadata to any future work created.

Metadata is nothing new. In fact: it’s been around for years. But people love to work in folders – for the simple reason that they’re easy to navigate. However, the disadvantage with folders is that you can’t filter every single documents throughout your whole library based on a specific text.

But with metadata, you can.

Highly Valuable – Underused

WorkPoint lets you search for your metadata and labels fast, making file organisation more effective. You also have the advantage of further filtering, like filtering files that are newer than file X or to filter by file types.

Metadata is highly valuable – but very underused. To make the most of it, you need organisational and departmental structure. Because if people use metadata at random – it’s not practical. An example would be a legal department in a company. They handle a set of similar documents, preferably from templates – and need meta tags to match.

Get Structured Now

Instead of applying structure manually, a tool such as WorkPoint has this structure built into the system itself. With all document templates relevant to each department, users also get the matching meta tags.

The user then goes about their regular work and gets document conformity on an organisational level – applying relevant documents and emails to the template used.

This advantage also applies to emails – which can be handled in the same way as other documents.

As knowledge workers, it often feels like we’re drowning in information. But, by structuring your templates in the right way, your organisation can tread water much more efficiently.