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15+ Key Business Documents Every Workplace Needs

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The workplace of today has never been busier, and the deciding factor in whether a business is successful or not depends on the ability to make effective use of business documents. A survey done by AIIM has shown that 3 out of every 5 businesses run into legal issues due to poor documentation. 

A report by the Ponemon Institute reports that Data breaches cost companies millions of dollars every year. That’s money lost because of poor handling of these very important documents.

Studies from the Business Harvard Review show that strategic planning put into the proper use of documents increases the profits of businesses by 12%. That’s just from organizational infrastructure changes alone.

Business Documents affect every aspect of a business from its internal affairs to its relationship with prospective investors and consumers. So, in essence the importance of business documents can’t be emphasized enough.

What Are Business Documents?

Business documents are reports, files, letters, and other information about a business’s operations. They come in various formats, whether being written, printed or existing as digital computer files.

Business documents include operational and organizational details and information such as its hierarchical structure, operational and work processes as well as guidelines. Agreements are also business documents containing the terms to which several parties have agreed to a contract.

Business documents allow the workers of the establishment to know what is expected of them as well as their roles to ensure organization is maintained as well as operations are as efficient as possible. 

Studies have shown that employees spend an average of 30% of their workday looking for information they need within business documents. This statistic underscores how integral business documents are to the overall success of a business. 

Business documents such as reports, financial statements and invoices also allow the company to have a track record of its history to make better-informed decisions in the future.

Protection of interest and property is another function of business documents. Agreements and contracts give companies and their partners legal accountability.

Types Of Business Documents with Common Examples


1. Contracts

A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. These parties may include a business, employees, third parties, and other entities. It is a document which states the nature and terms of collaboration between those involved.

A contract contains the offer, or the deal being made together with what parties stand to gain from it as well as the consent of the parties involved to be involved in such contract as well as the legal repercussions involved if such contract is breached.

Contracts are important so parties can be held accountable while having their interests protected by the law. This allows one party to take legal action against the other in the case of a breach.

a. Partnership Agreements 

A partnership agreement is a type of contract between business partners with details of their roles in the collaboration as well as their contribution, dividend share, and the terms that both parties have honored. This document formalizes partnerships and allocates risks and rewards as both parties see fit.

b. Non-Disclosure Agreements

A nondisclosure agreement is a legal contract that protects and keeps confidential information disclosed between parties. The agreement could be about trade or business strategies. This is done so that sensitive information cannot be leaked to entities that could cause harm to a business in any way.


c. Lease Agreement

Lease agreement between a property owner and a party who wishes to have the property leased to them. This contract contains terms and conditions as well as other information such as rent amount and duration.

2. Corporate Bylaws

This is a document containing rules governing the affairs of behavior in a business. Authored by the management, it contains rules applicable to members of the business such as its employees. It informs them of what the expectations are as well as what is not allowed

a. Organizational Structure Bylaws

Organizational structure bylaws govern all the individuals working in a business. It shows the rules that each member of staff is bound by their position as well as the responsibilities entrusted to them.

b. Shareholder Rights Bylaws

Shareholder rights bylaw that shows the rules that shareholders of a business must abide by. It contains information on things such as voting rights and dividend shares.

3. Business Plan 

A business plan is a detailed document of a business strategy for its goals. It contains all the details related to its vision, its proposed method of operation, and projected prospects. A good business plan contains a description of the business, a market analysis of what it wishes to venture into, a proposed organizational structure, financing details, and an analysis of the market.

business plan

Having a well-documented business plan allows you to attract investors and raise funds for external parties that may be interested given the ease of communication a business plan affords you.

A good business plan also affords you the chance to track your performance over a period and assess your progress. Risks can also be avoided and mitigated as they have been considered beforehand.

4. Financial Documents

These business documents provide information and insight into the financial position of the venture. They include reports and statements on the monetary aspect of the business. The various financial documents a business has at its disposal allow it to be transparent with stakeholders as well as evaluate performance to make better rational decisions.

a. Income Statement

An income statement includes information about a company's sales, costs of operation, and profit for a given time frame. It is an overall evaluation of the company's financial performance.

b. Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a type of financial document that shows the assets, liability, and shareholder equity of a business at a given point. It helps stakeholders see the financial standing of the business.

Balance sheet

5. Transactional Documents

These are business documents that capture individual minute financial activity. They are similar to financial documents but unlike financial documents, they do not contain enough overarching information but rather minute details. They allow the company to know every single transaction that goes on in the business.

Examples Of Transactional Documents


6. Business Reports 

A business report is a document that in detail gives an account of the current state of the business and its internal affairs. It touches on all elements of the business's existence from its finances to achievements, challenges, experiences, and so forth.

7. Minutes Of Business Meeting

Minutes from business meetings are formal records of the decisions, debates, and actions that take place during a meeting. It is a transcription of the entire meeting. For a business to maintain accountability among its teams and employees, minutes are crucial. It helps with continuity with future meetings and serves as a future reference file.

minutes of business meeting

8. Letters And Memos

Letters and memos in the business’ serve the purpose of communication. This is an important element in ensuring the success of any establishment. They are considered formal means of communication that are kept brief and objective and demand an action or a follow-up at the end.

  • Business letters are documents that serve as communication between business and external parties such as contractors, partners, clients, and several others.
  • Memorandums, known simply shortly as ‘memos’ are documents that serve as a means of communication internally within a business. They are normally either employees or board members.

9. HR Documents

Given the nature of HR relations and how it must do a lot with employers communicating with employees. This passage of information is done with various HR documents. These are documents that cater to different elements of human resource management such as hiring, onboarding, promotion, assignment, and others. These documents help manage human resources better. 

a. Job Description 

This is an HR document that has the details of the job an employee has. It contains information on the role, its responsibilities, and expectations. Job descriptions ensure clarity for employees and an easy measure for performance to be evaluated.

b. Onboarding Documents

These normally come in forms and are given to individuals who are about to be officially employed. The purpose of this document is for businesses to collect and have essential information about their staff.

c. Performance Appraisal Forms 

Performance Appraisal Forms are documents that essentially rate an employee’s performance in their role. It allows the employee to know how good they are working, and if they may need to adjust or improve.

d. Disciplinary Action Forms

In situations of misconduct by an employee, a disciplinary action form is used to exert corrective action towards such employee.

Disciplinary Action Forms

10. Marketing Materials

Marketing materials are business documents that also come in the format of media with appealing visuals such as colorful graphics to promote the business’s products or services. It is intended to get the attention of potential customers and clients and generate leads as well as close sales.

a. Business Cards

These are small portable cards that can fit in wallets and purses that contain contact information and brand elements of the business. 

b. Catalogs

Catalogs are comprehensive manuals that include details of every product and service a company offers. Customers can use the information on the document to make informed selections about the service or product from the company they want or need.

c. Brochures And Flyers

Brochures and flyers are business documents that serve to catch the attention of an audience with strong use of visual elements as well as pass important information to customers and an audience on a key event or development such as a new product.

d. Newsletters

Newsletters contain news and valuable information to regularly subscribed customers. They are regularly distributed on a fixed-time basis. It helps to keep the core target audience of a business informed of trends and developments.

11. Proposals And Bids

Proposals and bids outline how a business intends to carry out a business. It contains details of the work to be done as well as the costs and timeline. It is written in such a way to highlight the prospects of such an idea, and it is only produced when there is a request for a proposal or an invitation to bid.

a. Solicited Proposal

These are proposals that are submitted after a request for them by a business. The business highlights what they are looking for and interested parties are invited to detail in a document how they will meet client demands.

b. Unsolicited Proposal 

These are proposals that are submitted without a request for them. Because of this, they are aimed at identifying potential opportunities to take advantage of.

12. Board Resolutions

Board resolutions show a decision that the board of directors of a business has agreed to make. This may be a decision affecting the future or a policy of a business.

a. Ordinary Resolution

This a decision where once over half of the board members vote for it the resolution has been met. This is the case for decisions that can be considered basic or routine.

b. Special Resolution

This is a decision where up to three quarters of the board members present have to pass a vote for a decision to turn into a resolution. Decisions such as changing a business’ byelaws, acquiring or forming mergers require a special resolution.

13. Business Pitch

A business pitch is a document written concisely and in a persuasive tone directed at potential investors, clients, or partners. It contains details on the value of a business idea highlighting an idea’s potential and the solutions it can bring about.

a. Elevator Pitch

This is a short pitch that isn’t too detailed but serves the main purpose of capturing attention and sparking intrigue with the desired result to facilitate further discussions later.

b. Investor Pitch

This is the type of pitch that is more detailed and contains more aids and information such as analysis information, projections, and models. This pitch aims to convince investors to finance the idea being put forward, hence details such as risks, plans to handle it and exact projections should be included.

c. Sales Pitch

This is a business pitch often structured like a presentation focusing solely on the benefits and advantages that the idea has to sell.

d. Product Pitch

This is a business pitch about a new product or service. It features detailed information on the nature of the product or service and reasons why it will succeed in the market. It normally contains information done from research on competitors, market behavior, and several other variables.

14. Compliance And Regulatory Documents 

These are official business records that show that a business is operating in line with the laws of the state and regulations put in place by relevant bodies and is at a standard that is expected of them given the industry they are in. In essence, they demonstrate that a business is running legally and ethically.

a. Licence and Permits

Licenses and permits are issued by the government and appropriate regulation bodies after being sought for and checked to meet the requirements. It shows that a business is allowed to do what they do.

b. Compliance Certificates

These are documents given to businesses by appropriate regulatory bodies to verify that the business is working according to the rules it is governed by. Possession of these documents often shows that the business is credible and trustworthy for its products and services to be trusted by consumers.

Compliance Certificates

c. Data Protection and Privacy Policies

For certain businesses that offer products and services where consumers need to give out information, this document ensures that the business is trustworthy with such information and is bound by law to protect personal data on customers and will be punished by the law if they do not.

d. Environmental Compliance Record

This is a document that shows that a business is environmentally responsible, and its practices do not harm the environment. An environmental compliance Record paints the business in a good light and attracts both investors and consumers to it.

15. Operational Documents

Operational documents contain information and details on the processes and procedures undertaken by businesses. They describe the activities of a business in its entirety, the methodology essentially. With this document, quality can be ensured as well as efficiency.

a. Standard Operating Procedures

This is a step-by-step instruction guide on how certain tasks are performed in a business. They contain diagrams and flowcharts for extra clarity. This document is there to make sure work is consistently good and errors are mitigated.

b. Quality Assurance Manuals

Quality assurance manuals outline the expectation of quality standards and testing procedures for products made or services rendered.

c. Customer Service Protocols

These are guidelines on how customer inquiries, complaints, and services are handled. Not only do they ensure customer issues are addressed but they make sure that it is done in the fastest and most stress-free way possible.

16. Project Management Documents 

These are documents that contain the entire scope of the planning and execution of a project. It includes a time frame of objectives and a plan for it. The purpose of this document is to make sure projects are carried out as smoothly as possible.

a. Project Charter 

This document gives the go-ahead for a project to start with all the details about it written down. It contains information on the project’s purpose and scope.

b. Work Breakdown Structure

This is a document organized in a hierarchical order to show the individual milestones and direction of action for a particular project that is complex.

c. Gantt Chart

Gantt charts visually to show the schedule of a project and all the minute tasks within it.

Gantt Chart

d. Risk Management Plan 

A risk management plan contains the details of a possible risk that may hinder a project. It also describes the degree of a threat it poses as well as strategies to handle, tackle, or evade these risks.

e. Project Status Report 

Project status reports provide a periodic update on the progress level of a project such as minute tasks that have been completed, milestones reached, and so forth. This allows stakeholders and interested parties to know where things are with a business project.

Electronic Documents or Paper-Based Documents

In today’s day and age technology allows us to have business documents as digital faces on electronic devices as well as printed on paper like it has always been traditionally. However, these two formats fit different business documents for different reasons.

Paper-Based Documents

Paper-based documents have been the traditional format for years. It is what everyone is familiar with. It’s tangible and provisions such as files, folders, cabinets, and drawers have been made for its handling.

Given the fact that electronically powered devices are not required to use it, it makes it very accessible as well as secure. This is because paper documents can only be stolen physically and not hacked in the case of a cyber threat.

Given the long-standing tradition of its use, it is the preferred format of use. Especially in documents that are forms that need to be signed with a signature.

Despite its widespread use, it has its downsides. 

Storing numerous documents can take up a lot of physical space that sometimes can’t be afforded, this problem also arises when documents such as catalogs need to be distributed. Mass production and distribution may not be cost-effective when a wide audience is in question. Paper-based documents have a relatively low ease of access. As retrieval requires physical movement. Physical documents can be scrunched up, torn, and subject to other forms of physical damage.

Electronic Documents 

Technology allows various business documents to exist as digital files to be viewed and used on electronic devices. All the disadvantages of having documents in a physical format aren't experienced when they are in a digital format.

Sharing and storing documents electronically is more efficient in terms of cost and physical space. It’s especially advantageous when the documents are very large, or its distribution is to a wide audience.

Even working with documents electronically is faster and easier to access. Typing is faster than writing and retrieving documents isn’t much of a hassle. 

But along with its efficiency and ease of access comes the added benefit of digital organization of important documents. Files can be saved on different folders and different drives making access even faster.

However, despite all the advantages that using documents digitally offers, there are drawbacks to it as well.

The usage of documents in this way is dependent on technology so in the case of a blackout or internet outage, documents cannot be retrieved. None the less, the benefits of a company switching to digital documents can be huge. It is estimated that an efficient digital document management system can reduce document related loss and expenses by a whopping 75%.

Another thing to keep in mind is that despite its ease of access, usage requires additional skills that not all business personnel may have. Individuals need to be computer literate and familiar with various software and devices to utilize the effectiveness of handling documents digitally. Sometimes this may require additional staff training.

Having documents in an electronic format, especially when it is uploaded and downloaded regularly makes it prone to cyber security issues which could cause breaches, attacks, and sometimes loss of these documents.

No format is better than the other, however, the strengths and weaknesses must be considered depending on the type of business document in use. Luckily both formats are not independent of each other. Paper-based documents can be converted to electronic documents and vice versa. 

The synergy of both formats allows for fewer hitches in hurdles overall.

Enhance Your Business Documents Using Clinked 

Clinked is a cloud-based platform created to make the handling of documents easier and more efficient. It has a centralized cloud storage system that ensures personnel have access to documents relevant to their role in the business.

Clinked accounting client management

Client Portal for Accountants 

This allows departments and teams of employees to work together on several documents in real time, providing edits, comments, and feedback simultaneously even when remote.

Documents can be encrypted, and permission selectively granted for sensitive documents. The platform’s security structure protects it from breaches and other security concerns.

Additionally, Clinked offers a convenient and effective downloadable audit trail feature that monitors and logs the activities of all users.


Document versions and edits along with details such as its movement can also be tracked to give further analytical data which the business may find usual.

All these features ensure more cohesive productive collaborations between personnel in your business establishment.

I would also like to highlight Clinked's client portal solution, emphasizing its ease of use and the white-label option. It acts as a one-central hub for all files and documents shared, streamlining document management and enhancing operational efficiency.


Wrapping It Up

Business documents are essential to workplaces. Having said that, documents are not enough to ensure the success and smooth operation of that business. The way it is handled together with the systems in place for its use play a role much larger than many would believe. Paper-based documents have their drawbacks but even the innovative means of using electronic documents do as well. 

With Clinked, innovation is taken to another level as well-known loopholes are addressed. You get to enjoy a safe, seamless application in action with little to no drawbacks.


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