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3 Tips for Moving from Paper-Based Processes to Automated Digital Workflows

By Joan Honig • April 17, 2019 at 8:00 AM

If your existing processes are well documented, it’s relatively easy to transfer them into a digital environment using a document management system.

Unfortunately, many organizations have poor or inaccurate documentation, which makes creating digital workflows more complicated.

Before you design and implement the workflow, you have to understand the current process.


Tips for creating effective digital workflows

  1. Bring stakeholders together to discuss the process: In order to develop effective paperless processes, it’s absolutely critical to talk to key users and stakeholders, rather than just the C-level management. What you often find is that C-level executives and managers think that the organization follows a certain process, but the day-to-day reality is totally different.

  1. Mirror existing processes in your digital workflows: When you first convert existing processes to a digital environment, avoid introducing radical process changes at the same time. Although tweaks that improve processes are a best practice. Make sure that everyone involved has reviewed the suggested improvements. One caveat: when you optimize and digitize a process at the same time, be sure to document the changes. Then if issues arise in testing, you can determine whether they are due to the new platform or the new process.

  1. Once the digital document management system has been tested, you may discover new opportunities to optimize your workflows: Assess your workflows after the first testing phase and look for ways to eliminate unnecessary steps and optimize the processes. You should also review processes with end users after implementation. They may have suggestions for further workflow enhancements after they've worked with the system for several months. 

Why make the move to a paperless office?

Converting files to a digital environment through a document management system enables you to tailor the user experience to meet your requirements. These customizations typically include email notifications and reminders, or web services that bring outside data into the digital workflow.

The use of digital workflows isn't limited to any one industry. While some document management systems are designed with law firms or healthcare organizations in mind, there’s no need to use an industry-specific system. Document-based digital workflows in manufacturing, healthcare or finance use the same components, but may arrange them differently to meet the requirements of a process.

If you’re ready to take advantage of digital workflows with a document management solution, take the first step and assess the state of your existing paper-based processes.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated for accuracy and new content has been added.

Learn how to move away from slow, manual information processes by introducing a modern workflow automation solution. Watch our on-demand webinarHow to Take Control of Repetitive or Complex Manual Processes with Simple Workflow Automation. 
Topics: Workflow, Tips & Tricks, Enterprise Content Management, Paperless Office


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