Efficient document workflow
More productivity in the company through sensible document management
The handling of documents is a frequently underestimated topic when work processes are optimised or the IT infrastructure within a company is revised. But there is unimagined potential to save time and money here.
How can improvements be achieved in concrete terms with a well thought-out document life cycle?
- Quick retrieval of documents, nothing is lost
- Business processes and workflows are optimised
- Work processes become automated and more efficient
- Unproductive work steps (e.g. reformatting documents over and over again) can be eliminated
- Collaboration between different departments will be simplified
- Disaster recovery is significantly better
A document usually has a certain life cycle (DLM Document Lifecycle Management). The so-called life phases can be roughly divided into:
- Origin or creation or capture of the document: receipt from outside or creation within the company or also automated creation (e.g. invoices).
- Processing of the document
- Access to the documents/file for research purposes
- Retention and archiving: Legal deadlines must be observed here.
- Deletion of the document (also an important step to improve storage space, performance and clarity.
The life cycle therefore includes creation, storage (plus processing), archiving and disposal. The clear recommendation is to standardise all documents in a format such as PDF with subsequent long-term archiving in PDF/A.
Why should documents be standardised into one format?
Chaos and confusion usually arise because the documents that come together in a company are not standardised and are available in a wide variety of formats. Only the automated conversion of all documents brings structure here.
Regulation of the document cycle
In order to keep pace with the digital transformation, companies must be prepared to convert their work processes to digital. They will benefit from this above all if they then also create order with regard to all digital documents. A company should always manage its document quality and processes. This includes considering what to do with incoming documents that are of a different quality/different format.
It is important that all documents received by the company (and also those leaving it) are checked for relevance and finally stored. At this point, certain rules should be followed. For the digital archive, the following must be observed: applicable laws, regulations, but also company guidelines and binding clauses through contracts must be observed.
In order to bring order into the chaos and to keep the document workflow efficient at all times, you should take measures to clean up the document diversity and set up guidelines for sources, formats and channels.
External documents must be transferred into the document cycle after they are received, i.e. all incoming documents must be checked and released to ensure a clean transfer into the document process. It should be determined how incoming documents are to be handled. Subsequently, it should be ensured that all documents are easily searchable and retrievable. Thus, fixed rules for a procedure should be established for document control, OCR, conversion and document classification and channelling.
For example, care should be taken to ensure that hand-signed contracts received by fax are also easily retrievable later. It must therefore be converted into a searchable form by OCR and filed appropriately for retrieval and further processing.
Workflow and automated processes
There should be a continuous workflow with all documents, so that there are clearly defined responsibilities and security and data protection are always guaranteed. The focus should always be on clean automation. This enables particularly efficient work.
Optimally, the digital workflow in the company should be designed in such a way that, for example, an incoming invoice runs through the process of invoice verification and approval and the allocation to the corresponding auditors is carried out digitally and fully automatically.
In any case, companies should create and adapt automated digital workflows in order to make paper-based workflows and processes considerably more efficient.
Basically, when documents are managed electronically and automatically, processes become more streamlined and consistent.
A digital document management workflow helps your staff not waste time sharing and tracking documents. All processes are centralised in one place, leaving them more time for other work.
Improve workflows in the company
You should always transfer all documents into one file format, because many different formats in a company bring with them many disadvantages, such as incompatibilities, constant version updates and the use of different applications. With digital documents and graphics that are edited and sent in different file formats, errors accumulate and cost employees time. In addition, your documents should be in a uniform data format if only so that they can be archived optimally and in compliance with the law.