Use Automated Document Management Solutions to go Digital
Going paperless can optimize a company’s business processes and can pay for itself over time—and the key to success is infrastructure that’s built around digital DMS.
By Melanie Grano07/01/2018
According to a McKinsey survey (bit.ly/2K1LDqw), 92 percent of organizations say that removing paper from business processes is a constant objective, but yet 20 percent of businesses claim that their paper consumption is actually increasing. Going paperless can increase productivity up to 50 percent, triple processing capacity and create quick access to vital documents while reducing storage space. From a business perspective, going paperless makes sense.
And according to a survey on paper consumption habits among U.S. office workers (bit.ly/2I5HWzl), those in paper-based offices spent an average of 1.6 hours a day creating reports from paper documents. On top of that, the time spent searching for these documents is on average around six hours per office employee per week.
“The greatest driver for businesses to go paperless is to remain competitive in a market where consumers are expecting greater levels of responsiveness and customer service,” according to Rachel Ferla, director of productivity at Organise Chaos, a digital consultancy. “Running around looking for that special order information while the impatient customer waits on the other end of the phone line isn’t likely to lead to repeat business.”
Going paperless can optimize a company’s business processes and can pay for itself over time—and the key to success is infrastructure that’s built around digital document management system (DMS). The first and perhaps most important step in the process is to find a suitable DMS.
What’s a DMS?
These days, many organizations are looking for operational efficiencies or striving to improve productivity just to stay ahead of the competition. With so many new platforms and technologies promising to save time and help workers be more effective, businesses can get stuck in a cycle of trying to implement the latest ‘productivity hack,’ finding it doesn’t work as well as it was supposed to, then moving on to the next idea. Often, these new digital tools don’t fully deliver because they don’t address the underlying question of how the business stores and utilizes information.
DMS software tracks, manages and stores both documents and images. In practice, this means that paper documents can be digitized, reducing the need for physical filing storage and paper. These systems also work in sync with scanners, allowing a business to digitally store all paper documents. With the help of sophisticated search engines, the DMS provides quick access to any document or file, reducing the time spent finding documents.
An effective DMS is a must-have foundation that efficient workflows, processes and automations can be built on top of.
One important decision when choosing a DMS is the delivery model that best meets your requirements. You need to choose whether the system is hosted locally on premises or externally on the cloud.
“A good DMS not only reduces the physical volume of paper storage required, it also makes it possible to instantly retrieve documentation through search,” Ferla says. “This makes it much easier to keep everyone on the same page.”
DMS Hosting Options
A cloud-based DMS, whether on premises or hosted in a public cloud, offers many benefits. Documents are accessible anytime, anywhere, which is invaluable in a global economy. Also, a reputable online system will have electronic security protections in place.
The only drawback is end users will need to learn new software, but because the function and flow of the DMS tends to be similar from one application to another. Furthermore, with a good DMS provider, support and training should come as part of the package.
Template Management Systems
Sorting out a company’s DMS isn’t enough; a solution must be found for business templates and document creation as well.
Businesses produce vast amounts of documents every day. A template management system improves the processes around core operations such as emails, presentations, standard Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc. The differentiating factor between an excellent DMS and a run-of-the-mill one is a template management system that helps staff work smarter and more efficiently by using corporate templates across the organization.
Standardization Across the Board
A strong advocate of office automation is David Ciccarelli, co-founder and CEO of Voices.com, an online platform with offices in California, London and Ontario in Canada. He has taken the plunge to go paperless. For his company, creating custom documents is important because it gives end users the sense that the information is both relevant and important.
“We’ve standardized the look, feel and format of our core documents across our entire company. Using a single hub for the creation of content means that documents have a consistent look which meets visual branding guidelines and also saves time by avoiding re-creating styles from scratch,” Ciccarelli says.
All company files have been digitized. Ciccarelli even goes so far as to say that Voices.com is a “digital first” company. This means that all company forms, contracts and other files start digital and stay that way through the entire process.
“When it comes to reports and presentations, we’ve certainly benefited from leveraging a master template that includes 200-plus slides providing visualizations for infographics, timelines, charts, graphs and maps. By sticking to the slides provided and working from them as a starting point, we’ve saved countless hours in graphic design and headaches from those less graphically inclined from struggling in PowerPoint or Google Slides (our standard),” he says.
Luke Hughes, co-founder and CEO of U.K.-based OriGym, explains why he decided to move his organization onto a paperless footing: “From an anecdotal perspective, the rising sophistication of CRM software allows for cloud integration of documents across departments. We can, therefore, manually attach important documents to relevant email streams, allowing for the seamless planning of workflows within our office.”
Remotely accessible digital dashboards also allow for flexible working patterns. For example, employees can work remotely and view the same documents as office-based staff, with updates in real time.
“As far as negatives go, there are sometimes nagging doubts about the safety of cloud storage, and what would happen if the servers went down. However, digital files are far safer than their printed counterparts, and the benefits, from a business perspective, far outweigh the drawbacks,” Hughes adds.
Ciccarelli agrees. “Like any change initiative, it’s imperative to communicate the ‘why.’ Explain to staff why the organization is moving towards a paperless environment and the efficiencies to be gained,” he says. “Whatever your challenge, quantify it and then create a vision for how your organization could operate if everything was paperless.”
He adds that as new employees enter the workforce, they expect organizations to be adopting the latest technology and the best practices in content creation and document management. Failing to do so may lose a potentially great candidate or an aspirational employee who knows your internal processes could improve.
Benefits and Cost Savings
Apart from saving time, effort and duplication of work, cost savings will come most in the form of paper and ink utilization.
Cicarelli adds that the biggest challenge with a DMS won’t be the technology and whether it works. Instead, the challenge companies will face will be that of adoption. He advises organizations to recruit champions from within each department and get their buy-in to help guide others through the digital document creation and sharing process. Often, people just need to be shown, which is where your champions come in.
“My motto is: Train and then re-train,” he says. “Given that you’re transforming your business, the process will likely take several months. Providing on-going support through monthly training sessions and being open to gathering feedback and implementing ideas for improvement will demonstrate to your team that you’re committed to this initiative. This approach has certainly worked for us.”
Invest in the Right DMS Software
Going paperless is the obvious next move for companies that haven’t made the move. However, the key to a successful transition is investing in the right document asset management software, which means you’ll get support, training and security as part of the package.
Naturally, an efficient template management system will also help your business transition to a paperless environment, meaning you can focus on better serving your customers—reaping the fruits of becoming a more effective, productive and streamlined business.