Digital workflow: Efficiency through professional PDF solutions for businesses

The latest challenges: Floods of information and e-mail archiving. The most-effective way of working is with PDF documents

The digital working world has forever changed the way small, midsize and major businesses operate. The bulk of communications and the sharing of information and data are now taken care of electronically. In many respects you can save a lot of time doing things this way, since the work involved has become both faster and more efficient. Team culture is becoming more of a top priority as well, thanks in no small part to how working digitally makes procedures less complicated and official channels that much shorter.

Many companies are even turning to the paperless office and purposely refusing to accumulate stacks of documents and records the old fashioned way. Still, the paperless office comes with its own special challenges: What’s the best way to organize and file digital documents while ensuring you can search, find and retrieve every piece of information you have on hand?

Digital documents bring new challenges

When you work with any kinds of digital documents, there is always that danger of using too many different formats or losing important information. The question is how to prevent data chaos, especially when you’re facing a deluge of information. How can you make each person’s work easier while simultaneously encouraging teamwork? The only answer is proper data archiving. After all, it’s not just offices and government agencies that have to work faster and more efficiently, but also those in the healthcare sector and in human resources – areas that are increasingly transitioning to digital medical and personnel files. Sensible and compliant archiving is essential if this critical transition is to be successful.

Long-term digital archiving as the basis for today’s digital working world

Now more than ever, communications, whether internal (messengers, mail, intranet and groupware) or with customers and business partners, needs to be done in a way that is smart and mobile. This makes the ability to digitally store and preserve information over time an absolute must. Long-term archiving is the foundation for the kind of successful teamwork that every modern business is cultivating today. Teamwork must build on standardized processes and procedures that ensure digital information and data can be found, retrieved and shared. Not only must you comply with certain legal requirements, you’ve also got to meet the standards for accessibility once you get fully immersed in the world of digitized work and business.

The benefits of implementing a long-term digital archive with PDF/A

Especially in small and midsize companies, it’s important to optimally structure and manage how information involving different kinds of documents, attachments and file formats is to be shared so that workflows can be made less complicated and more efficient. And it doesn’t matter if you’re messaging with clients, suppliers, co-workers or teams, the important thing is not only that communications are clear, smooth and convenient, but that all documents, attachments, and file formats can be opened, shared and stored over time.

Larger companies will find long-term archiving with PDF/A to be a valuable asset. It means having the ability to quickly find, retrieve, exchange and make digital information and documents available to other team members without any of it disappearing, being irreversibly changed, or in formats that cannot be opened and read.

As if this wasn’t enough, the archive must also fulfill a number of legal requirements by ensuring reliable and durable reproducibility (documents created internally and externally may be in vastly different formats and not provide a recognized level of legal and audit compliance). One way of accomplishing this is through the (in part automated) conversion of all documents to the PDF/A format (according to ISO Standard 19005, which has been in place since 2005).

PDF/A provides the security you expect from an ISO standard and gives you all the benefits that PDF documents have to offer. Specifically this means documents that retain their appearance and readability permanently – regardless of the application or system that was used to originally create them. A tool such as webPDF is all that businesses need to generate valid PDF/A documents. This powerful software makes sure that only those documents are archived that comply with the PDF/A standard and in turn are reproducible long into the future. This kind of tool also gives you the option of validating whether a PDF document already conforms to the PDF/A standard. Installing the tool as a gateway to your long-term archive is the best way to use it and will help ensure proper archiving at all times. Tools such as webPDF and n2pdf are also useful when integrated within communications platforms such as SharePoint, SAP or IBM Notes/Domino.

How to make the work of human resources more efficient

Besides the need to implement a compliant, long-term archive for mails and electronic records, the digital working world involves yet another challenge that can be mastered by PDF solutions such as webPDF and n2pdf, namely the overwhelming flood of information that businesses face nowadays, all of which has to be uniformly managed. The field of human resources is notorious for having to collect and update enormous amounts of workforce-related information. Now that online employment applications have all but replaced the old-fashioned form of mailing in your résumé, the personnel departments of midsize and larger corporations are being swamped with an unprecedented assortment of electronic information.

The example of incoming job applications alone shows not only how incredibly helpful it is when you can channel and organize this rising flood of data, but the importance of standardizing the format. Processing these applications, together with just opening the individual file attachments, not only takes a great deal of time, but is complicated by the effort involved in handling so many different file formats.

For the most part, businesses have switched to offering standard online job application forms or employment portals where all the supporting documentation can be uploaded as electronic files. Someone in human resources then has to click on each individual file and (particularly when submitted in a wide range of different formats) prepare, process and standardize them for archiving. Fortunately, there is a way to optimize these recruiting workflows. Using an add-on for the webPDF enterprise solution, you can automatically compile all of an applicant’s uploaded file attachments into one master PDF document (including a cover sheet and table of contents) regardless of whether the organization is running IBM Notes, SAP or some other software. One master document increases clarity and efficiency many times over. What’s more, webPDF even lets you imitate the look and feel of a traditional job application folder. Now, and instead of having to open separate attachments, you can use a dashboard to scroll through a single PDF document, just as you would turn the pages of a classic job application folder.

These kinds of automated workflows are not only indispensable when it comes to the ergonomic aspect of work, but essential for any business that wants to promote digital workflows and support them using innovative software products. Server-based solutions provide features for centrally creating, handling, printing and exporting PDFs. They also let you convert countless file formats and perform a variety of important PDF editing tasks, including adding signatures and certificates.