Maintaining compliance is a major challenge when you’re using paper-based processes, and one that has real consequences for your bottom line, business risk and customer satisfaction. Fortunately, enterprise content management (ECM) solutions offer a variety of ways to reduce your compliance headaches, operating costs and risk exposure.
One of the main problems with paper documents is that it’s difficult to retrieve them quickly in the event of an audit. You might have that contract or tax return somewhere in your files, but if you can’t produce it, you could be at risk for non-compliance.
In terms of day-to-day operations, employees must spend large amounts of time on manual processes, and there are ongoing costs for paper, physical document storage and delivery. There’s also a loss of efficiency that hurts your organization’s agility.
Here’s an example of these problems in a highly regulated industry: The retail brokerage division at a large financial services firm was using time-consuming, paper-based processes to onboard new investors. From the time a broker signed up a customer to actually managing their money, 45 days would go by — if all went well. If problems arose, it could take over 90 days before the client had access to their money and their information.
Paper was putting the brakes on what should be a quick process. When brokers signed up a new customer, they would ship documents from the field to a processing location in Arizona or Florida. If some information was missing, the processing center would ship the documents back to the broker. After up to three iterations, the customer was added to the system and passwords were generated that would then be mailed to the customer.
In addition to all of that time-consuming paper shuffling, the onboarding process produced lots of errors due to typing mistakes. The result was that the financial services firm had to manage almost every onboarding process, instead of using automation to manage only the exceptions. Not only was this onboarding process costly, it also led to customer dissatisfaction because customers didn’t have access to their money, weren’t able to trade right away and felt abandoned by the company.
By digitizing this process, the financial services company reduced the 45-to-90-day onboarding process to seven business days, and later to just one business day. This improved customer satisfaction and allowed the company to begin earning brokerage fees much earlier. In terms of hard costs, the company saved over $50 million on shipping alone over the course of a year.
When you’re trying to streamline your business processes while maintaining compliance, there’s a huge advantage to working in a digital environment with ECM.
When digital documents are appropriately categorized and tagged, you’re able to retrieve them in seconds using the search function. That ease of access greatly reduces your risk of being non-compliant.
Automated digital workflows in ECM also help you to manage exceptions. For example, you could create business rules that define the information you must have for a particular type of agreement or invoice, and the system is able to automatically flag non-compliant documents for additional review. Automation also makes it easy to manage the entire document lifecycle so that you’re able to delete documents with the click of a mouse once the retention requirements have been met.
In the end, reducing these compliance burdens with ECM opens new opportunities for your company to grow.
The basic goal with ECM technology is to free people from repetitive drudgery. Nobody wakes up and can’t wait to search through paper to put files together for compliance. ECM allows you to redirect those energies and resources to higher-value tasks, improving employee satisfaction, reducing operational costs and increasing your revenue-generating potential.
Want to learn more about how ECM and compliance management software could help your business? Contact DocuWare today for a free consultation and your document management roadmap.