Understanding Digital Document Workflow

Digital document workflows have been an aspiration of SMBs for a number of years now.

The reasons for this have become more apparent as organizations start seeing the benefits of digitally transforming their work processes.

There is currently a veritable laundry list of digital trends that decision-makers are attempting to incorporate into their strategies.

Three-quarters of SMBs agree that digital technology was changing the business landscape and 48% are looking for additional ways to add transformative measures to their scope of business

Transforming workflows is an important digital trend which has taken a unique precedence in North America.

Related Post: Impact Networking & DocuWare Create Comfortable Office Workflow

Businesses in the region consume almost double the amount paper of their European counterparts.

Digitally transforming workflows isn’t just about replacing paper-based processes.

However, there’s no doubt that the time and money spent on outdated work processes is a key driving factor.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at what your business can get out of a digital document workflow and the kinds of gains to be expected.

The Problems of Poor Digital Document Workflows 

Employees spending too long accessing information

As always when it comes to digital transformation, the key issue at hand is productivity.

Whether it’s manufacturing or hospitality, businesses of every industry are typically utilizing digital transformation strategies in order to streamline their business and improve their productivity.

Employees spend an average of 1.8 hours every single day searching and gathering data.

That’s 9 hours per week that could have otherwise been spent doing something more valuable.

There’s a lot of data in the world today.

In fact, 90% of all data in the world was generated in the last two years.

Yes, you read that correctly.

And so, there’s an ever-increasing amount of information that employees are constantly having to sift through.

In an organization that has yet to make use of digital solutions, this means a lot of time wasted by workers looking for what they need.

big data graphic

Information not readily available to employees

Furthering these issues is that in a lot of businesses, employees struggle enormously to access data that’s not immediately available to them.

This can be for a variety of reasons.

Most commonly, however, this is because departments across a company have different data management systems.

This means it can be effectively impossible for someone in one department to retrieve data from another because they lack access.

Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result

This is a data silo, and they are a major source of frustration for many.

These are breeding grounds for inefficient processes which only get worse over time if left to fester.

This is a productivity killer, and estimates indicate that IT departments spend 80% of their time cleaning up the mess caused by data silos.

Related Post: Software Robots Bring Advanced Productivity to Manufacturing Office

Dissatisfaction from constantly performing menial tasks

A study found that 22% of an employee’s time is spent on repetitive tasks. Over the course of a year, you can imagine how much money is wasted by workers spending time on manual tasks that can now be automated

Routine, manual tasks are common among businesses which have yet to implement digital transformation.

These tasks will typically revolve around data entry.

For example, you might find a worker in HR manually inputting employee benefits data.

Or you might be manually inputting all of your customer invoices and receipts.

Many companies have grown used to accepting these menial tasks as simply part of the job.

Related eBook: 5 Reasons Your Company Must Leverage Business Process Automation

The truth, however, is that these are often totally avoidable.

The net end result is that employees are frustrated because their digital document workflows (or lack thereof) aren’t helping their productivity.

They’re effectively doing a job that could be digitized, in which case they would be allowed the opportunity to focus their energy on something that needs a human touch, like customer inquiries.

Substandard digital document workflows cost your business money and your employees time. 

The Causes of Poor Digital Document Workflow

Data silos

Data silos are groups of data that have effectively been cut off from the rest of the business because they exist in disconnected digital locations.

This can be intentional, but is almost always unintentional, often as a result of different departments switching systems over a long period of time.

The end result of this is that company data is unstructured and difficult to utilize—crucially important for a modern SMB.

87% of organizations have low analytics and business intelligence maturity, meaning data isn’t being utilized

Digital transformation lives and dies on the seamless flow of information.

Related Post: Breaking Down Data Silos: Unify Your Business Data

Any company that tolerates unintentional data silos is hampering their own productivity.

Here are just a few examples of the data silo issues that arise from poor digital document workflow:

  • Data analysis: Silos mean information is stored in different places, often as inconsistent file formats. This makes analysis for business decisions a lot harder
  • Access: Permissions and access problems are common with silos. The end result is that employees can’t get the data they need fast enough, slowing down work processes significantly
  • Unnecessary work: Limited visibility across a business often means different teams end up doing the same work in tandem, when shared access and the removal of silos would save time and energy

Poor communication

Subpar communication within an organization and a lacking digital document workflow go hand-in-hand.

Related Post: Why Cross-Department Communication Is Essential to Your DX

When digital document workflows are underutilized, you can typically find that not only does data get siloed, but culture does, too.

Departments within the business begin to work independently, with their own data and processes.

Time and again, we at Impact have seen how important it is for digital transformation to have a strong culture to ensure success.

By neglecting your workflows, it’s very easy to fall into a trap where culture is inconsistent and divisions act with too much autonomy.

Time-consuming paper work processes

We spoke about how employees are often hampered by having to perform menial, manual tasks.

These are often to do with manual data entry jobs, but paper processes are another common offender.

Much like tedious data entry costing you labor, paper is also a double whammy.

With companies that predominantly operate with paper-based processes, staff have to spend valuable time handling physical documents.

This is in addition to the large sums spent on the paper itself.

An average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper a year

Companies like these often operate at the expense of a great digital document workflow, which saves time and money.

The Solution to Poor Digital Document Workflow

Automation 

The use of robotic process automation is surging among businesses of all types.

In the telecoms industry, for example, nearly two-thirds of organizations are investing in RPA.

rpa investment graphic

The reasons for this are perfectly clear: utilizing automation saves a lot of wasted time and resources.

Here are some of the tasks that RPA can be used for:

  • Data extraction: Large amounts of data can be trawled to find what you need with ease
  • Data management: Data aggregation and curation
  • Operational activities: Logistics and operational support
  • Procure-to-pay: Invoice processing and reporting
  • Inventory and supply chain: Categorization and management

In short, companies that utilize automation to even a small degree can see drastic improvements in their digital document workflows.

The cloud

Unifying your company data on the cloud is a vital step in the digital strategies of many organizations.

Last year the worldwide public cloud service market was $182 billion, by 2022 it will be worth $331 billion

Using the cloud to streamline your digital document workflows and improve access across your business is a relatively simple and effective way of upgrading.

Historical concerns about the security of cloud-based servers have been shuttered in recent years.

cloud adoption graphic

This is mostly because of the vast improvement that data centers have seen.

Tier IV data centers, in particular, are as safe or even safer than on-premise servers.

data center red pyramid tiers explained

Reducing reliance on hardcopy documents

We don’t ignore the fact that it can be a big change for a company to ditch paper-based processes.

For many, however, it is a necessary change to embrace digital document workflows to some degree.

Utilizing an enterprise content management system (ECM) can significantly boost the productivity of your workflows.

This will save you time and materials over physical paper-based equivalents.

It will also give you far greater visibility and control over documents and data that pass through your company, allowing you to dictate your workflow rather than the other way around.

Takeaways:

  • Poor digital document workflows lead to efficiency and dissatisfaction
  • These are caused by siloed data, poor communication, and time-consuming paper processes
  • Automation, the cloud, and reducing reliance of paper within your organization can significantly improve your workflow

Thinking it’s time to talk to someone about your company’s IT? Reach out to Impact’s Managed IT team and speak to one of our experts today! http://bit.ly/2HoecPE