Think about all the ways your staff interacts with documents each day. Creating, editing, filing, storing, searching, faxing, copying, emailing, and so on. All of these actions require manual effort from your staff, which takes a great deal of time, lacks security and allows for errors.
Does your staff experience problems such as lost files, extended waiting periods, and document sharing limitations? If so, there’s a solution. It’s called document management automation or workflow automation.
What does workflow automation really mean?
Workflow automation or document management automation simply means streamlining the process by which your company uses and manages its documents. There are a number of ways to improve workflows and automation and the process is flexible to fit the needs of different types of businesses. For instance, if you share your documents with external parties, then the methods used for sending, retrieving, and storing files should be examined. If your business collaborates internally on projects then the methods for sharing, editing, and communicating about those files should be examined. Workflow automation will mean something different to each business, but there are some common themes for most companies.
- Reducing the amount of paper used
Even though there are plenty of tools for electronic and cloud-based document management, many companies are so entrenched in traditional paper-pushing methods that it’s difficult to consider the effort it would take to transition from physical documents. But, the truth is that paper is the most common threat to productivity that exists in the workplace. Because of all the manual tasks surrounding paper, all projects that utilize it will end up requiring a great deal of time spent without actually doing any real work on the project. Switching paper documents to electronic documents allows for decreased time handling and managing paper and more time for staff to get right to work on the project. Instead of having to dig up a file in the filing cabinet (assuming the file is in the right place), you can simply search for it on the computer and even share it immediately with coworkers, rather than manually delivering it.
- Creating automatic routing services in your network
We know that with paper, there is a lot of time spent gathering and sharing documents. With electronic documents, you have the ability to quickly search for the documents you need and then share them from your computer to the appropriate recipients. But, you can actually take that one step further by creating an automatic routing service within your computer network, allowing staff members to receive the documents they need to get their jobs done without having to look around for it. Since searching for documents on the computer can take up time, this automation will decrease the amount of time spent between projects and get staff members to work more quickly. Users can also be notified when actions take place with specific documents, such as the saving of a document, the moving a document, or when a specific document gets opened.
- Activity monitoring
In the 21st century, we’re able to get data and measure pretty much anything. That includes the way users are working with documents and how documents are being handled. Being plugged in to the way your office is operating doesn’t just allow you to check in on staff members. It will allow you to really see how your document management process flows and identify ways you can improve or even stages that can be added or cut out to improve efficiency. But, activity monitoring doesn’t need to be like a George Orwell novel. Monitoring can also help to keep you more connected and lead to better, more effective communication.
Okay, so you can reduce clutter, connect computers, and watch users. But, what do these actions really accomplish?
These changes, and other customized improvements, will lead to real changes that profoundly impact the way your company uses documents, works together, and will lower the costs and risks along the way. You’ll be able speed up job completion times, lower production costs, decrease errors, improve compliance and even free up your IT department to work on more important tasks for you business. To find out more about how Stone’s Office Equipment can help you improve your document management, contact us at 804-288-9000.