Digital Transformation for the Mid-Market, One Step at a Time

document management system document controlDigital transformation can be thought of as embracing digital technologies to improve the efficiency of manual processes; many identify digital transformation in the office with going paperless, which typically includes Enterprise Content Management or Document Management Systems. Transformation should be the development of new and innovative ways of doing things, rather than simply supporting and improving traditional methods.

In a recent article by IT World Canada, they identified that 38% of Canadian executives in large enterprise companies are rolling out their digital transformation strategies, and 50% of them are in the planning and building stage, with 12% still trying to determine a plan. What is interesting is that it is very hard, as well as very expensive to transform a large enterprise. There is also typically a significant disconnect between the “C-level executive” and the front line employee.

Canadian mid-market companies are slower to move, with 31% of them taking steps toward digital transformation. However, what is extremely interesting is that the significantly large group of mid-market companies in Canada, are actually much more nimble, and with limited investment can more easily make strides towards significant efficiency gains through digital transformation. They can do this one step at a time without stalling or impacting departmental throughput. Another supporting factor is that mid-market companies have more readily adopted cloud technologies, so they are perhaps more ready for transformation than they realize.

Here’s an example of a simple workflow integration to a Document Management System and ERP or financial system.

AP Processing

document management system sample ap workflow

1. Capture AP Invoice – Inputs

a. AP Clerk scans paper invoice to input into AP workflow.
b. Fax technology monitors inbound fax over IP for invoices and automates input of invoice to AP workflow.
c. Email technology monitors inbound AP email for invoices and automates input of invoice to AP workflow.
d. AP Clerk drags and drops digital invoice files that may have come from other digital sources to input invoice to AP workflow.

2. Document processing and routing

Once the invoice is input into the AP workflow, the processing engine captures the document, converts it to a text searchable PDF, and captures the important data (i.e. company, invoice number, purchase order number etc.), then matches the important data with the financial system’s AP data and routes the document to the AP clerk’s workspace (Electronic Document Management System or Document Control System) and is ready for the operator review step.

3. Operator review and approval – this step can be an “exception only” step

AP clerk reviews to ensure that the document is correct and approves it for payment.

4. Deliver to Document Management System and link to client in Financial System

Approve payment in financial system and save and link document for records and audit.

This is a very simple workflow example that can be implemented easily with workflow software that is integrated into a financial system and an inexpensive cloud-based document management system to support digital storage. Your managed print services partner should be able to recommend the appropriate hardware and software, and manage a proof of concept through to full production and final implementation. We typically see that automating the AP process will cut processing time by 60% – 70% –  now that’s efficiency! Your organization may be ready for this.

Keep in mind that similar, very simple digital workflow processes can be implemented for HR, other finance functions, quality control in production areas, etc. Organizations may not be ready for a complete technology revamp quite yet  i.e. integrating all systems inside and outside of your firewalls. There are so many complexities – all of the organizations your organization deals with would have to support the same systems, standardized protocols and documents. A total technology revamp won’t happen overnight, it will take a considerable amount of time but for now, your digital transformation can effectively be supported one step at a time. It’s time to get rid of those filing cabinets and transition to inexpensive, integrated cloud-based document management systems.

Don’t invest in technology before you figure out the future state!

Before you select a partner to implement your document workflow or document management system, make sure that they have the ability to configure the system to support your business processes – not the other way around. We more often than not see companies invest in software that typically has way more capabilities than they will ever use. Keep in mind that lower cost, open architecture solutions are available.

Get in touch with one of our experts to determine the optimal way to configure your document management system or read this case study to see how this organization benefited from an optimized system.

Is the Paperless Office Merely a Myth?

paperless officeThe Paperless Office concept was first introduced by IBM in 1975 as part of a vision of the future where computers would have a dramatic impact on the way people worked. Forty years later, paper documents still proliferate the offices of all types of businesses around the world. So, is the Paperless Office just a marketing slogan or is it really attainable?

After almost thirty years in the office printing business, I’ve seen great progress being made towards the Paperless Office, but don’t foresee us becoming absolutely paperless any time soon. What I do see however, is an accelerated shift towards the Less-Paper Office. There are multiple factors that impact people’s efforts to go paperless, resulting in a gradual transition versus the sudden elimination of paper.

Why go Paperless?

Here are the three primary motivators for going paperless:

Cost Savings

Paper documents cost money. Not just the actual cost of printing, but the processing, filing, finding, refiling and ultimate destruction (shredding) at the end of their useful life. Some industry experts estimate that 1-3% of a company’s annual revenue is spent on managing documents throughout their lifecycle. That’s a lot of money.

Environmental

Business owners, and their employees and clients are all keenly aware of the environmental impacts of paper production and printing, from trees, water usage, electricity and ink/toner to all the space required for storage. There are big motivators for implementing green initiatives and being seen as a good corporate citizen playing their role in saving the planet.

Efficiency

This highly competitive global marketplace is moving faster and faster every day. All businesses are looking for ways to improve efficiencies, respond faster, be more competitive and stay relevant.

So why are we printing more?

There are a few reasons we’re printing more than ever:

Explosion of Data

The amount of information available on the internet grows exponentially on a daily basis. More data naturally leads to more printing.

Email

This instantaneous business communication is so easy, people create, send and receive documents at a far higher rate than ever before. Even if just a small fraction of this is printed, the result is still more paper-based documents scattered throughout your office.

Ease of Printing

Today’s lower printer costs (especially colour), wireless connections and ability to print from almost any device, mean it’s easier than ever to hit print, reach over and grab your printout.

It’s What We Do

Like most things, old habits die hard. Going paperless requires changing the way we do things, learning new processes and getting everyone on board. Despite all our good intentions, change is hard.

What’s Helping us go Paperless?

Just as access to information and technology advances have increased printing, they’ve also given us the ability to exchange information without paper.

Mobility

Using smartphones, tablets and notebooks to access the internet to email, search Google and access information anytime, anywhere allows us to easily go paperless. You can do more on your phone today than you could on your computer (if you had one) back in 1975.

Cloud Storage

Similar to mobility, the ease and relatively low cost of storing documents in the cloud, allows us to find, access and share them faster and cheaper than their paper-based cousins, which makes us all more efficient.

Security

The security features built into today’s smartphones, computers and cloud services, give us the confidence to file, find and share most documents electronically and securely, instead of using the old filing cabinet. However, for those documents that still need to be printed, implementing a secure-print-release solution not only improves security it can also reduce print by as much as 30%.

Managed Print Services (MPS)

As businesses look to migrate from hardcopy to digital content, having a plan developed by a consultant who specializes in MPS will greatly improve the likelihood of being able to successfully deploy a Paperless Office.

With all of these factors impacting how we access, exchange and save information, is the Paperless Office just a myth or can it really be achieved? For those determined few, the technology and tools exist today to make going paperless a reality. However, for most of us the steady transition to the Less-Paper Office is more realistic. Like most things in life, it’s all about finding the balance between multiple factors; cost, efficiency, the environment, workflow and technology advancements. There are lots of easy to implement, small initiatives that can get you started in the right direction, such as:

  • Automatic two-sided printing
  • Dual monitors
  • Digital signing software
  • Rules-based print tracking

The biggest impact of all will likely come from your coworkers. With Millennials now making up over 50% of the workforce and quickly moving into management positions, these are people who grew up in a digital world and going paperless isn’t just an initiative, it’s simply the way they work.

If you’re ready to start moving towards a Less-Paper environment or have any questions,  get in touch with us.