Six tips for document workflow optimization

Every organization has to deal with documents, physical, digital or a mix of both. Regardless of industry or size, your company probably processes a lot of documents every day. The process your employees follow to create, digitize, share and maintain them is called a document workflow.

Defined or not, every company has a document workflow process that moves materials from one point in the company to another. However, an undefined document workflow creates inefficiencies in different teams and ultimately makes employees less productive. In addition, manually reading, processing, extracting and retyping documents opens the window for human error. This is bad for business.

Fortunately, there are solid ways to optimize your organization’s document workflow, and this article will discuss them in detail.

What is a document workflow?

Document workflow is the process used to create, capture, store, share, edit, track, approve, delete, categorize, and manage documents within an organization. The process is designed to provide clear guidelines for completing tasks in the document workflow lifecycle. For example:

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Using a digital document workflow can help businesses become more productive and transition to leaner, less paper-intensive work practices. The vast majority of businesses rely heavily on paper, and how they manage these documents affects their productivity, profitability and operating costs.

The success of your business is heavily influenced by how well you manage the electronic movement of documents between departments or geographic locations for approvals, signatures, and revisions. An effective workflow (which can be supported by SaaS as a document management system) ensures that employees have access, control and management over all the documents they need to function as efficiently as possible.

Document Workflow Benefits

Business processes are a series of repetitive actions required to perform tasks. By creating a document workflow, organizations can automate the movement of documents through a series of actions. Automation of this workflow makes it even better. The need for manual data entry, email reminders, printed paperwork and other time-consuming measures is eliminated. Below are some benefits of document workflow.

Cost effective

The process of defining and automating the document workflow helps businesses save money. Manual processing of documents is quite expensive to manage and use. They require more employees, leading to higher labor costs, higher error rates, and cost of printing and distributing documents.

Document workflow combined with technology will undoubtedly save your company’s storage costs, operating costs, printing and archiving costs and make it easier to track the status of the procedure.

Improves staff productivity

Each document workflow in an organization defines the standard processes and best practices for creating, sharing, and managing each document. This helps to eliminate inefficiencies and automate various tasks across the organization. In addition, automation frees up time for employees to focus on higher-level initiatives and revenue-generating actions.

Improves document security

Every organization should have privacy as a top priority. Security of sensitive documents is crucial. Document workflow provides better control over sensitive documents. Automating documents greatly improves security by ensuring that only authorized users have direct access to sensitive information. You gain insight into who viewed a document, when it was opened, and how it may have been modified.

Improves teamwork and collaboration

By automating document processes, companies can make it easier for team members to process and interact with documents, enabling remote collaboration. The document workflow allows employees to create, track, edit, and store documents in the cloud and distribute them directly to customers.

As a result, tedious projects are easier to handle and teamwork within the organization is improved. In addition, accessing and interacting with cloud-based information implies that employees can access contracts and project files regardless of where they live or work.

Easier Compliance

Secure and efficient document management and management are necessary to comply with many regulations and standards. Document workflow reduces the risk of non-compliance by keeping it simple to keep your documentation up-to-date and secure.

Insights and analytics

Systems used to automate document workflows provide businesses with access to a vast amount of data, reports, and analytics. This data can be used to make informed decisions that make the business better. Through the analysis of data and key performance indicators, companies can improve their processes to eliminate inefficiencies.

As a result, the automation of document workflows increases performance, ensures a higher level of compliance, and improves the quality of products or services.

Document Workflow Optimization Tips

Most businesses depend on hundreds or even thousands of documents to function. These documents are usually transferred between departments, employees, patients, customers and other personnel for approval, signature and editing. This means that a process or procedure already exists within the organization for dealing with documents, whether defined or not.

Optimizing the document workflow means improving the existing system for the benefit of the organization. The ultimate goals of workflow optimization are to increase the speed at which processes are executed, get the best out of every employee, and reduce friction between team members regarding communication. Below is a list of ways to optimize the document workflow in your organization.

Examine the previous process

A workflow optimization campaign starts with a clear understanding of the past processes involved in documentation and the people participating in the workflow. Do this by writing it on a board or using a computer to design a flowchart. The flowchart shows each step involved in your existing workflow and the connections between the steps.

The diagram should show each task performed and completed at each step, the personnel responsible, the resources and materials required, and the next step in the document workflow. This provides insight into the areas that need improvement, such as workflow bottlenecks (delayed areas, frequent errors and unnecessary steps).

Highlight performance indicators

Identify the key metrics that will be used to measure performance improvement. It is important to define the goal of any document workflow created or optimized and also to create metrics and performance indicators that determine whether the planned process has achieved its goal.

Examples of metrics in this case are the processing speed, the prevalence and number of errors, the hours spent by employees, or the return on investment of the document workflow.

Getting started with the new model

After carefully analyzing the existing workflow and defining key metrics, create a plan for the new document workflow, the optimized model. The new model should show what happens at each step of the workflow, where documents are routed, what documentation needs to be completed and who needs to approve the paperwork.

Automate, automate, automate

It’s best to automate almost, if not all, aspects of the document workflow process. These automated processes can help employees save more time by eliminating repetitive tasks and reducing the potential for human error in the process. Systems can implement all kinds of processes, such as informing other team members about revisions, applying revisions in multiple documents, adding signatures to certain documents, etc.

For example, if your company has a vacancy, there should be a special folder in the cloud to receive the candidate’s application so that the recruiting team can easily access it. Automation can also take place in the form of merging related digital documents. Online tools are available to help businesses merge PDFs. Click here to merge PDFs.

Incorporate your document approval process into your workflow by having approvers sign paperwork using digital signatures. That way, employees don’t have to manually print, sign and scan documents before they are forwarded to the next staff in the workflow. Automation is a surefire way to speed up document workflow and eliminate inefficiencies.

Document the process

It is important to generate documentation detailing each step and output of the process. The document must clearly state the following:

After the documentation is completed, inform each employee involved about the document workflow procedure to maximize efficiency.

Track performance

After you’ve made your process changes, check your workflow functionality regularly to make sure it’s performing better than your previous settings. This also helps to detect areas that need improvement.

Enjoy the benefits of the document workflow

Document workflow provides several benefits to an organization. Manual or undefined documentation processes limit employees. Instead of focusing on their most important tasks, your team should spend time doing administrative tasks.

To avoid this, optimize your documentation workflow by digitizing and automating the process. This article discussed six tips for optimizing document workflows and help you manage your documents effectively.

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