Most companies are constantly looking for ways to improve process efficiency in order to increase productivity and profitability. Now that we’re in the new year, it’s a good time to streamline your approach to document management and moving information through the workplace.
Here are few common document management processes to examine for inefficiencies, plus tips for streamlining them:
- Filing and storing documents: When paper documents, such as invoices and contracts, arrive at your organization, they have to be processed and stored in some way. Unproductive paper handling doesn’t add value for your business — it just slows processes to a crawl.
A paper-based process is usually rife with inefficiencies. For example, an employee needs to open each paper invoice, assemble the supporting documents, sort them and stick them in a folder for processing and filing. The inefficiency of these processes increases if you’re trying to maintain paper copies of important electronic documents, such as by printing out and filing emails.
Improving efficiency: As a rule of thumb, when you receive an electronic document, try to keep it that way. If it’s on paper, look for ways to scan it immediately and create an electronic document. When opening a paper invoice, for example, it takes just seconds for an employee to scan it into an electronic document management system. This allows you to largely eliminate the subsequent work of filing and storing paper documents.
- Retrieving documents: When an employee needs to retrieve a document, there’s a significant efficiency difference between paper and electronic document management. If it’s a physical document, the person has to get up and go find the filing cabinet or binder, and hope that the document is actually where it should be located.
Improving efficiency: With digital document management, employees are able to retrieve any document they need with a few mouse clicks, without having to leaving their chair.
- Approval process: All of that effort put into moving paper for storage and retrieval is extremely inefficient, and that’s especially true when you’re routing invoices and other documents for review and approval. With paper, someone must physically move the document to the next person down the line, repeating the process until everyone has signed off. When a department head or other approver is on the road, this paper-based approval process is even more of a drag on your productivity.
Improving efficiency: A good digital document management system makes it simple to review and approve documents from anywhere in the world, using a combination of mobile applications and cloud-based storage. As a result, gathering approvals for an invoice could take minutes instead of days or weeks.
But there’s another reason that’s worth considering: Eliminating redundant, unpleasant or frustrating tasks makes for happier employees. Going down to the basement to get an old document is inefficient, for one, but if people also dread this task, they also tend to procrastinate on it. It’s difficult to calculate the value of eliminating unpleasant tasks, but the emotional advantage surely helps improve job satisfaction, motivation and productivity.
Learn more about document management.