As companies look for ways to increase productivity and trim budgets, the widespread use of paper and manual processes has been scrutinised. Organisations must meet the ever-growing demands for increased productivity, compliance requirements and environmental consciousness. Examining your processes can help your business become more productive, streamlined and efficient.
To begin, ask yourself:
- What types of paper documents are used in my business?
- How much of my business is interrupted by manual requirements that could be automated?
- How much do we print and/or copy each day?
- Can employees quickly and easily access records if needed?
- Are key business processes slowed down by paper?
Many forward-thinking companies are turning to process improvement solutions and realising significant cost savings across a number of business areas. A recent AllM study reported that 39% of the companies surveyed saw a drop in paper consumption when using process automation and document management. And there’s even more potential for savings when companies automate workflows and optimise routing and auto- indexing processes.
Document Management integrates document imaging, capture, search and management processes and enables the creation of a centralised data repository. With all documents stored electronically, employees can quickly and easily find,access, and share important business documents. It also helps promote business continuity and enables quick disaster recovery. The purpose of this is to transform static, unstructured information and data into a dynamic part of your business through document management and process automation.
This provides a framework for syncing people,paper and processes. It starts by converting printed documents into electronic files that can be securely stored and maintained in a centralised location. Any and all of the organisation’s documents can be collected and this information can be retrieved by employees at anytime, using an intuitive, easyto-use interface.
Organisations using solutions are experiencing both direct and indirect savings.
In a 2010 report by AllM , companies cited the following benefits to their organisation (ranked in order):
- Electronic access of documents and information sharing
- Improved productivity
- Reduced paper storage costs
- Decreased paper volume and associated costs, including printing, posting, and transporting.
It is interesting to note that the strongest long-term benefit reported by companies in this survey is a “soft dollar” savings. Why was this named ahead of some of the direct savings such as storage and shipping fees? With increased access to information, organisations were able to reduce the time spent looking for, and handling, business-critical documents. Documents are available on demand. In short, these solutions enable organisations to better manage intellectual property so nothing is lost or misused.
Organisations also reported improved productivity as an important long-term benefit. Real-time access to information promotes information sharing and collaboration and allows employees to leverage best practices across the enterprise. This also helps employees provide exceptional customer service and quicker response times. The ability to instantly pull up accurate customer files enables customer service representatives to answer questions on the spot or provide documentation when needed. Documents can be emailed or faxed directly from the desktop preventing multiple calls.
The benefits of document management can be further enhanced by using automated workflow tools. With process automation, you can seamlessly integrate all of your business operations and systems so that information is available where and when it needs to be. Automation enables you to define your company’s processes including actions and steps needed to complete each task. Tasks can be ordered and dependent on the completion of other tasks.
A good example of an automated process is the routing of key documents for approval. Using process automation, and connecting it to your business information with electronic document management, you can transform a paper-based process that previously needed someone to print and complete a form and walk it from office to office for review and signature.
Now, you can fill out an electronic form online,and it will be routed automatically to approvers throughout the organisation, in a predefined order, You can see who has already signed off, where the document is now , and whether someone is holding it up.
Organisations can leverage features such as routing and auto-indexing to:
- Eliminate manual business tasks and activity
- Reduce risk
- Provide accountability and audit trails
- Improve quality and turnaround times
- Diminish and track bottlenecks
If your organisation would like to gain substantial improvements in your business processes and go paperless, then process automation and document management may be right for you.
Here are eight tips to help you select the right solution for your business that will enable you to achieve your goals and get a quick return-on-investment (ROI).