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7 Paper-Based Processes Killing Your Productivity

Is X-ray vision part of your skillset? That’s the only way to find particular documents in a pile of paper easily. By digitizing these documents, you’ll be able to locate the one you need instantly without waiting for your company’s next benefits enrollment to offer a choice of superpowers. 

If you're beginning an office automation project, where should you start? We've put together recommendations guaranteed to help you meet your business goals.

Common issues caused by relying on paperbegin

Finding Documents: Traditional filing systems require physical access, and time is often wasted on a trip to a file cabinet or file room looking for a misfiled document. Or perhaps the document you’ve been searching for has been sitting on your very own desk in a stack of folders all along.

How do you get the information you need today, and is the time you spend hunting for it stopping you from doing bigger, better things?

Passing documents back and forth: How many of your business processes hinge on the movement of paper? For example, do people wait to receive approval forms without any visibility into where the forms are in the process? 

Do you wish you could eliminate these bottlenecks?

Losing documents: Even the best paper-based filing systems bring work to a complete stop when a document is lost. Whether the paper was mixed into the wrong pile, or worse, ended up in the garbage; the only thing that’s for sure is that a staff member will have to take time away from their assigned tasks to try and find it or to request it from the original source.
 
Would it be an improvement if you could locate documents by date, keyword, fulltext and other search criteria?

Quick wins a document management system delivers

Here are seven scenarios that show some of the many benefits of going paperless. We’ve chosen them because they will give you the fastest results in terms of process improvement and cost savings. And it increases employee satisfaction by reducing time spent on repetitive manual tasks.

1. Automating invoice processingabacus 2

While other areas of a business may already be paperless, the accounts payable department may still be overloaded with paper and slowed down by manual workflow or the use of several software systems that don’t communicate with each other. 
 
Documents that need multiple approvals may make it partway through a process but get stuck until, for example, an employee returns from vacation.
 
In one business case, a controller wanted to digitize invoice approval. As he sat down to discuss the routing of documents with us, he mentioned that an invoice came back to his administrative assistant three times before it landed on his desk for final approval. 
 
When he was asked why she received the document so many times, he said it was so she could check to confirm that their approval policies were followed, and the invoice had made it to all the right people. After implementing document management, approvals became part of an automated workflow, and human intervention was no longer necessary.

2. Digital employee onboarding creates a great first impressionStart sneakers

Without digitization, onboarding a new employee is very paper-intensive. The new hire usually spends their first day on the job filling out forms that range from health insurance election to direct deposit and emergency contacts.

With electronic forms, the new employee fills out onboarding information that is common to all forms once and all of them are populated automatically. Online forms can even be completed at home before the new employee starts work. Form data can also be delivered to HR, payroll, purchasing, IT and other departments.

Automated workflow makes everything easier. For example, HR management can create an onboarding checklist of required tasks, including acknowledgment of employment, confidentiality agreements and initial training plans. It also streamlines provisioning to make sure new employees have all supplies and equipment they need on day one. 

Speedier hiring supports rapid expansion for a large retail chain

B and MB&M Retail is a fast-growing retail chain in the United Kingdom. It operates more than 600 stores and has approximately 28,000 employees.

In the past, new employees filled out and signed various paper documents in each B&M branch. These forms were sent to the head office where the data was manually entered into the company’s personnel and accounting systems. 

Since each new employee couldn’t start work until this activity was complete, B&M was very interested in reducing processing time. Especially in months with many new hires, the negative consequences of the lengthy paper-based procedures had a lot of impact on workplace efficiency. HR management was also looking for a simple-to-use solution that would help the company comply with current legal regulations. Their paperless solution needed to handle approval processes dynamically and provide greater transparency for filing and workflows. These are some of the reasons the company chose DocuWare.

3. Why your company needs electronic signatureelectronic signature 5 2 22

In most cases, pen-and-paper signatures can be replaced with a more efficient, less expensive electronic signature.
 
Here are just a few examples:
 
You’re coordinating the execution of a contract that will be signed by multiple people. A paper document needs to be passed along to everyone in proper order, adding to the time it takes to get the contract signed. When using e-signature, you can have multiple people work with and sign the document simultaneously, eliminating bottlenecks.
 
You need authorization to expedite the purchase of a service. Instead of waiting on interoffice mail, email or a fax, you can quickly get the document signed electronically.
 
You're working with overseas partners. Paper documents may need to travel thousands of miles; even when you’re paying high fees to expedite mailing, it results in a slower process. Electronic documents can be sent and signed almost instantly, even from across the world.
 
Other business benefits include:
  • Better adherence to security and compliance requirements
  • Improved support for remote workflows
  • The ability to eliminate paper and all its associated costs
  • More accurate recordkeeping
  • Meeting regulatory compliance standards

4.  Quality assurance that maintains compliance standards

Regulatory compliance components

Too often, these kinds of documents are passed around the office with a coversheet carrying names and corresponding signatures. In contrast, digital workflows ensure documents follow a correct path before moving on to final approval.

Seamless integration with an industry solution

PharmigonPharmigon manufactures patient-specific, highly-specialized preparations on behalf of pharmacies, primarily for the targeted treatment of tumors. Production protocols, which describe the manufacturing process in detail, are created in their pharmacy management system and contain classification terms for each preparation, such as batch number, manufacturing date and active ingredients. DocuWare converts these details into index terms and uses them as central parameters for workflows that verify that the correct procedures are followed. 
 
An initial check is performed by the production manager and reviewed by the quality control department which OKs the product. Then a final release is made. In this way, 50 protocols with several hundred pages are approved daily. 

5. Pain-Free Audit preparationCloud Lock 2-1

Being audited can be time-consuming, complex and nerve-wracking. Auditors tell you what they want to see, and how they want to see it. In a paper-based process, this can mean traveling to an off-site facility to find records for the audit. With digital document management, these documents are retrieved simply and electronically.

Improving audit preparation while operating under strict regulatory control

CriterionCriterion Tool & Die manufactures components for highly-regulated industries such as medical, aerospace and photonics. The company builds and supplies parts for several hundred customers and develops custom prototypes.
 
Components manufactured by Criterion Tool & Die cannot fail once the devices are implanted in patients or installed in airplanes and other equipment. Government regulations mandate that the company retain documentation about the parts it supplies for the lifetime of the products. The company also must produce all supporting documentation quickly when it’s requested for audits.
 
Prior to implementing DocuWare, audit preparations took several hours, but now the documents can be found by inputting job numbers and retrieving the records. “The biggest time saver is being able to pull the document instantly,” says Marketing & IT Coordinator Kellyanne Gottschalk. “It also greatly reduced employee’s stress levels during audit-preparation time,” she adds. “We know the job number and we can just look them up and produce documents on demand right in front of the auditor.”

6. Automating data entryYellow rocket and white air ballons

In some organizations – hospitals and municipalities, for example, a person fills out a paper form and hands it to an employee who manually keys that person’s responses into an electronic system. If a patient or citizen is visiting multiple departments this can result in duplicate data entry. Using digital workflows keeps multiple people from doing the same thing twice.
 

Eliminating duplicate data entry as part of digital transformation

Kowalskis logoWhen Kowalski’s Markets, a gourmet grocer with 12 locations, implemented DocuWare, one of the benefits that is most popular with employees was the elimination of manual data entry in their accounting processes.
 
As Kowalski’s Markets grew and expanded, managing paper accounting records became very difficult. It took an employee 3 to 4 days per week to type the invoice information into the accounting system. Department managers were also entering invoice information again to compile a weekly report. Manual processes were being done twice and were taking time away from employees’ core responsibilities.
 
Today, invoices are scanned at each store and automatically indexed by DocuWare Intelligent Indexing which uses machine learning to “recognize” index terms. Next, the invoices are electronically routed to the department head, who reviews and approves them. Then invoices are sent to the accounting team where they are paid and then stored in DocuWare.
 
Tight integration between DocuWare and Sage, Kowalski’s accounting solution, allows the accounting staff quick access to documents stored in DocuWare, right from within their familiar accounting program. Kowalski’s has eliminated more than 40 hours a week that had been spent on data entry and their employees have more time to dedicate to the key parts of their jobs.

7. Enforce retention schedules without human interventionDollar going through a paper shredder

Certain types of documents must be kept for a legally mandated number of years. For example, in the US, invoices must be retained for seven years before they can be deleted.
 
Paper-based retention processes are slow because they are often managed by referencing shelves full of boxes and shredded page by page. A document management system provides the workflow tools to enact protection or destruction at predetermined times to keep your organization protected against litigation.

A school system better manages state archiving requirements

Daviess CountyPrior to installing DocuWare, employees kept track of document retention schedules on paper at Daviess County Public Schools (DCPS). Because document types are purged on different schedules, this was a daunting task. 
 
For example, attendance data must be kept for 20 years while health information obtained by school nurses is kept for only five years. Now, DocuWare workflows automatically enforce retention schedules established by the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, making compliance easier and more transparent. State auditors review these retention practices, and it's much easier to provide them with requested documents and prove compliance. 

3 steps toward digital transformation

  1. Identify what currently drives up operational costs, what keeps the company from reaching profit objectives and which business workflows have the greatest need for an update.
  2. Define the steps needed to begin automating processes like order management, accounts receivable and payable, human resources, internal control or compliance and pinpoint the key stakeholders needed for carrying out steps.
  3. Segment projects into phases and look for short and easy wins. Don’t try to do everything at once.

Ready for easy automation of your business processes?

If you're ready to begin a business process automation initiative, DocuWare can help. With our preconfigured, cloud-based solution for Invoice Processing, Employee Management and Smart Document Control, you can be up and running in just a few days; that's how easy it is to get started. Request a demo to find out more.
Editor's note: This post has been updated for accuracy and new content has been added.

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