Are there documents missing in your FileHold document management software (DMS)?

It is easy to find documents that are stored in FileHold using the powerful search capabilities but how do you know what document have not been added and are missing?  This article explains how to use the offline documents capability to search and determine what is present, pending, or missing.

Part 1 - Using placeholder documents

This article is intended for document control officers, department heads, or supervisors who need to maintain critical documents as part of organizational process.

Organizations often need multiple standard documents related to a case, project, or person. These can vary widely from HR onboarding to manufacturing documentation of processes. For each process, the required documents must be logged to consider the file complete. A document management software like FileHold is designed to store any kind of document but is designed to locate documents that are present or are being worked on. Missing documents can require special steps. Due of the flexibility of FileHold, there are different configurations out-of-the-box to manage these required document lists. This first part will look at using placeholder documents; the next part will look at using checklist offline documents.

For this walk-through, we will look at a Human Resources (HR) process for on-boarding. This sample process will require three documents – an electronic application form, a background check report, and payroll information internal form.


1. Ensure your systems allows conversion of electronic documents and offline documents

Note: You need to be a System Administrator to enable these options.

In the Full Administration menu, go to System Configuration > Settings > General > Permission Settings area. Ensure “Enable Converting Offline Documents to Electronic Records” and “Enable Converting Electronic Records to Offline Documents” are enabled.

Permission settings

These settings allow you to convert offline documents to electronic documents and back again as needed.

When storing offline documents as placeholders, you can set the initial version number to ‘0’ instead of ‘1’. Follow these instructions for configuring the initial version number.

2. Create document schemas to match your document needs

Note: You need to be a Library Administrator or greater to complete this phase of set-up.

As with any document added to FileHold, you need to create a schema to match your use case. Here, we create a unique schema for each HR document type. We could choose to make one schema with metadata fields to differentiate the types of documents, but this does not take full advantage of the search capabilities of FileHold (as we will see below).

The different schema allows users to choose unique metadata and document formats.

  • The application is an electronic form, which the applicant completes electronically to push the fields as metadata automatically.
  • The background check is an electronic record format because it is being produced by a third party and is a controlled, non-editable document.
  • The payroll information is an electronic document format, using the banking information unique to each user.

For your system, you can have as many or as few document schemas as your controlled document processes require, each with a unique format.

3. Create a master folder that will contain your controlled document templates

Note: A role of Publisher or greater is need for this step.

The master folder is the template container for the template control documents. When we need to create a new set of control documents, we can copy the folder and contents. To have it display at the top of the folder list and named appropriately, such as with a “0” leading the name.

folder properties
  • The owner can be the group who manages these documents.
  • The schema can be any of the HR documents created in step one.
  • Weight should be “0”.
  • Color should match the schema for these folders.

Any of these settings can be changed after copying, but having a neutral default can be easier. For instance, we may want this template folder at the top of the list, and so we could set the weight at “-10”. However, when we copy the folder, it will place the copy with “-10” weight as well.

The folder can also be in a different cabinet or drawer than the intended storage location for the required documents.

4. Add offline placeholder documents

These documents are placeholders for the required documents needed for each new HR hire. When adding the document, use the File > Add Offline Document menu item (or use the shortcut key Ctrl+Shift+O).

Even though the schema you are adding might be for an electronic document or record, the offline document creates a “metadata card” that acts as a placeholder for the final document.

metadata pane

Complete the required metadata fields as indicated by the asterisk on the metadata field. As these are placeholder documents, we will use the word “placeholder” where possible, and dummy information for other fields.

Do this for each required document you need to track for your process. Here is what our example template folder looks like with one offline version of our three documents:

template folder contents

Using the offline template documents

1. Copy the folder

Right-click the template Folder and select “Copy Folder”.  Name your copied folder something based on the use case. Here, we can use the name of the new person being on-boarded, but the employee number or another value useful to identify this person could be used instead. The same logic can be applied to your required document process, give the folder a meaningful and distinct name.

Be sure to use “Copy Folder” and not “Clone Folder”. Clone creates a new folder with the same properties, whereas copy duplicates the folder content as well as the folder properties.

copy template folder

2. Update document metadata

If you have common metadata fields for the different schema, you can mass edit them without changing the document’s schema.

  1. Hold control and select each document, or select one document and press Ctrl+A to select all the documents.
  2. Right-click on the documents and select Edit metadata.
  3. Complete any common metadata fields. Make sure to have the check boxes selected for the fields you are updating.
Metadata pane multiple files

If you do not have these as options, you may not have common metadata fields. You may want to edit your schema to take advantage of this function, which not only helps with editing but also with search.

3. Update your folder with incoming required documents

As you begin to add the final documents into FileHold, you have some options:

  1. Add documents to the folder via the Inbox, Watched Folders, or ADI. This is particularly useful when there are additional processes that need to be applied to the document, such as with our Application e-form. We want to take advantage of the Extraction Rule from the Inbox.  Once added, the user can then delete the offline placeholder documents.
  2. Check-out the placeholder offline document and check in the electronic document as a new version.
check in template file

If the offline document started at version “0”, then the new version is “1” in the library.

Documents can be checked out to mark them as “in process”. For instance, if you are expecting the background check to arrive before the end of the week, you can check out the placeholder offline document immediately to let the team know it is expected.

Why use this process?

The biggest challenge with controlled documents is the inability to determine which documents are missing and what the status is of those that are in the system. The process outlined here gives you multiple handles on which to locate documents.

  • To identify documents that are missing, you can do an advanced search by the library location, document format, and version number:
Advanced search
  • To identify documents missing for one employee, add a field to the above advanced search to find a common metadata field value, such as Last Name or Employee Number:
advanced search
  • If you have documents you are expecting to arrive soon such as the background check, you can check out the placeholder and use that as a searchable value. This helps to distinguish the placeholder documents from the expected documents:
advanced search 3
  • If using workflow, you can search by status. For instance, if you have documents that need to be approved but have not yet been routed for that approval, you can search for on-boarding documents of a schema that match that type:
advanced search 4

As with any search, results can be exported to CSV as an ad-hoc reporting tool to show what is and is not available in the repository.

By using offline documents, you can determine if any documents are missing by using it as a search filter. This means FileHold can tell you not only which documents you have, but which ones you need.

In the next post, we will look at how to use metadata as a checklist to determine which documents are or are not in the Library.

Chris Oliver

Chris Oliver brings his twenty years of experience in management in the entertainment industry to FileHold Systems as the Client Training and Retention Advocate. To learn more about how FileHold DMS can work for you, contact him at [email protected].