Once upon a time, the concept of a document workflow consisted of sliding paper documents into a manila envelope or accordion folder then scrawling the name of the next person to review the information within a series of orderly black lines on the back. The contents were distributed internally if the person worked on the same campus or shipped if the employee was located in the office of a different city.
Bottlenecks often occurred. Calls were regularly made to understand where the documents were. Once this process was completed, the information was either stowed in rows of file cabinets within the buildings on campus or in another office across the United States. In some cases, organizations paid storage and information management companies to shred or archive documents.
For the millennials out there, this didn’t occur during the Mad Men era. This was in the 90’s. Some organizations still operate this way. According to Entrepreneur, companies lose 20 to 30 percent in revenue every year due to a variety of inefficiencies.
While most business leaders understand the importance of streamlining operations, an MIT Sloan survey revealed executives at 91% of companies believe digital technologies have the potential to fundamentally transform the way companies work.
(Learn how business process automation can harness digital technologies to gain a greater understanding on the subject.)
Business process and document automation experts can design an effective document workflow for the varied departments and circumstances within your organization to ensure your company -- and team -- stay on track. Some of the benefits of developing a document workflow includes:
An efficient workflow can not only prevent human errors, but reduce redundancy and ensure tasks are performed in a steady, dependable way. The rules surrounding a workflow lend clarity and structure. Creating and managing a document workflow ensures everyone is working toward the same objective. When each team member knows what to do, at which stage and within the proper time period, the oversights and risks are reduced.
Empowering with information and communication
As organizations accumulate business content – be it digital or paper – most are storing this information within their cloud based document management systems, ECM platforms, file shares or even an e-mail system. When information can be easily accessed, workflows are that much more powerful. A document workflow ensures each team member has the facts needed to complete their task, giving employees insight as to how their consequences impact the goal.
Once that task is completed, an alert is sent to the next responsible party.
Improving visibility and accountability
Hurdles in the process can cause major slowdowns, with far-reaching financial impacts. Companies may turn a blind eye due to a lack of visibility or awareness as to how that bottleneck impacts the organization's goals and growth. Other times, these clogs in the arteries of the system are due to a refusal to adopt new technologies.
Sometimes, other issues arise. Since performance can be monitored, blockages or challenges can be quickly analyzed and workarounds can be put into place. This keeps all employees involved accountable for their role. Workflows can also be revised to improve efficiency and give leaderships or other stakeholders visibility when needed.
Ensuring audit trails are charted
Document workflow systems create audit trails, tracking what tasks have been completed, by who and when. All of this information is documented. Since the workflow is connected to a database or even document management system, records are kept throughout the process.
Enabling managers to focus
Without business processes and automated document systems in place, managers tend to spend the majority of their time reading emails, approving assignments and tracking down progress reports. Effective document workflow processes enable managers to shift attention to other vital facets such as focusing on strategies and tactics to attain organizational growth.
The best way to optimize your business is to be cognizant of productivity drains and seek out streamlined solutions. By leveraging KnowledgeLake and Nintex platforms, we deliver cutting-edge business process automation and document workflow solutions.
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