Digital Transformation – Document Capture, Workflow, and Management

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Start with paper, but look Beyond it
Keith Corbett, Blueskies Solutions

Reducing paper is a great place to start. Where you have identified a place to eliminate paper, there’s probably an easy opportunity to go beyond this and improve the process itself.

There are huge benefits in terms of cost savings, efficiency, and compliance to be gained by automating document workflows:

  • Cost savings from decreased print-related expenses and lower transaction times
  • Fewer errors and less rework
  • Increased employee efficiency since automation speeds the routine elements of each task
  • Improved security and compliance, better auditability, and reduced fees for non-compliance

The actual expense related to inefficient document processes is easily overlooked because it’s spread out across many processes in the business. There are “traditional” workflows which are readily identifiable (eg. case management) that are high-volume, repeatable processes with process controls in place and “ad-hoc “workflows that an employee may not like to think follow a standard process.

A tactical approach I have effectively used when automating these workflows include;

  1. Focus on making people’s work easier. If it helps them do their job it will take hold. Pushing a compliance or standardization requirement causes people go around the new processes or procedures.
  2. Look for process and technology assists. What seems ad hoc at first often has more structure to it than meets the eye. Even when others don’t see it or do not know what tools exist there are ways to save people time and simultaneously ensure better compliance.
  3. Tap into unstructured information. Your existing structured documents and information are easiest to include in a new process or workflow .They are the right starting point but they’re ultimately not the most important. Make it easy to use the unstructured information (eg. comments contained in a form or the emails surrounding a customer inquiry) and you will get the most benefits from you transformation effort.
  4. The last piece of the puzzle is records management and compliance. Just making documents electronic and automating the workflow is not enough. Controls for your business records from their creation to their disposition are set either by law at the Federal or Provincial level or by your organizational policies. Include Financial, Privacy, and Regulatory requirements to your priorities when considering your digital transformation improvement.

Trends in the Workplace

  • Continued shift from paper to electronic formats
  • An increasingly mobile workforce
  • Strengthened regulatory environment- auditing, discovery, and information privacy mandates around electronic information.
  • An expanded awareness and adoption of document workflow tools
  • A growing preference for online interactions
  • Social media and enterprise social networks are becoming a standard element of the workplace
  • A resurgence of SharePoint as a large number of add-on products are now available. These include tools for document assembly, workflow, content management and searching.

Moving Beyond capture to digital transformation

Document workflows that are now online must also be managed and formalized to ensure your organizations information are;

  • Trustworthy
  • Reliable
  • Authentic

To meet this standard it is your responsibility is to ensure that your records maintain all of the organizational, legislative and regulatory requirements.

Performance and efficiency optimization

There are big benefits in terms of cost savings, efficiency, and compliance from a digital transformation effort. Sometimes that cannot be achieved solely with internal resources and your internal staff should be able to focus on their core activities.

Technology is only one part of a digital transformation effort. Operational problem solving, compliance, best practices, documentation and training must all be addressed.