Posted in Workflow Automation

How to Streamline Your Business’ Document Workflows

Manual document processing is on its way out. 

Nowadays, 72% of organizations use at least some digital document management processes to streamline workflows and increase efficiency.

Unlike your manual documentation workflow, a well-organized automated workflow built with robust software is fast, accurate, and reliable. Not only that, but you can guarantee compliance and streamline remote working.

If you’re unsure how to optimize your business’ documentation workflow, you can follow this step-by-step guide and enjoy quicker, more streamlined document processing.

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What’s Document Workflow Management?

Document workflow management is a system that lets you electronically create, approve, sign, modify, store, and retrieve documents related to your business processes.

Most businesses rely on hundreds or even thousands of documents to function. Think purchase orders, insurance claims, medical records, invoices, leave requests, and student records. 

These documents are usually passed between departments, employees, patients, vendors, and students for approvals, signatures, and changes.

Once the processing is complete, they’re either printed and filed away in a cabinet or stored electronically in an electronic document management system for later retrieval.

Digitizing these document workflows can dramatically improve the efficiency of your operations, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction.

Why Is It Important to Streamline Your Document Workflows? 

Managing documents can be difficult without the right processes in place. 

Unfortunately, paper documents and manual processing can lead to errors, delays, and increased costs.

document workflow optimization benefits

Improve Accuracy

By streamlining your document handling processes, you can increase accuracy in your workflows. Mistakes delay a workflow process, appear unprofessional, and lead to knock-on errors further down the pipeline.

Not only that, but continued errors result in disgruntled staff, suppliers, and customers who have to correct the mistakes or experience delays. 

Optimizing document workflows can help to reduce these mistakes, which improves these relationships. In fact, 40% of business leaders link increased customer satisfaction and a boost in employee productivity to the switch to digital document processes.

Increase Compliance

Digitizing your paper forms and automating your document workflows also makes record-keeping easier. 

By cutting out administrative errors and automatically uploading documents to your digital document management system, automated workflow automation software like frevvo keeps your records in order and your audit trail up-to-date and compliant.

documentation security and compliance statistic

In fact, 36% of business leaders agree that digital document processes ensure data security and compliance.

Accelerate Processes and Increase Productivity

Streamlining document management will also speed up processing.

Manual document processing is tedious. Plus, physical data entry, handwritten paper documents, and manually uploaded paperwork are so prone to errors that processing is often delayed due to remedial work.

55% of business decision-makers agree that digital document management processes can accelerate document processing. 

This allows staff to focus their time on more important tasks than administration, leading to greater innovation and growth.

Productivity and Automation statistics

As 69% of employees put it, automation would allow them to focus more on their primary job duties rather than wasting time on paperwork.

Lower Costs

What’s more, faster workflows with more productive staff and fewer errors are cheaper.

Manual document processes are often expensive, as you’ll need to pay high labor costs to cope with the data-entry demand. Plus, mistakes lead to extra costs for remedial work. 

By transforming your process flow, 50% of organizations agree that you can lower costs and reduce labor demands.

That’s not to mention all the costs associated with manual administration, such as printing, scanning, and storing documents.

According to 37% of business leaders, you can significantly reduce printing and storage costs by switching to digital document systems.

Facilitate Remote Work

Finally, optimizing your document workflow process can improve remote working capabilities.

If you currently rely on email or physical paperwork, your staff probably needs to sign and scan documents manually to send them to each other remotely. This is painstakingly slow, and there’s a lot of room for error.

Instead, digital document processes and workflow automation can streamline these workflows and incorporate electronic signatures so that your business can operate at full capacity even if your staff aren’t in the office. 

As 72% of business leaders put it, digital document processes enable business continuity in unforeseen circumstances.

How to Optimize Your Document Workflows to Speed Up Business Processes

To create a streamlined workflow for handing your documents, you need to move away from manual processing. 

Here are six ways you can optimize complex workflows to improve your document systems. 

1. Map Your Current Document Management Process 

A process map works like a flowchart to show each step that’s involved in your existing workflow and the connections between the steps. 

Create a process map to show every task that’s completed at each step, the people who are responsible, the resources and material needed, and the next step in the document workflow.

When you create workflow maps to show how current document processes work, you’re able to better identify areas for improvement.

2. Benchmark the Performance of Your Existing Document Processes

Identify the metrics that you’ll track to measure performance improvement.

Metrics could include the speed of processing, the frequency and number of errors, the staff hours needed, or the return on investment (ROI) of your workflow.

Benchmark current performance so you can compare once you’ve made changes.

3. Analyze the Bottlenecks in the Process 

Analyze your existing process to find common bottlenecks in the workflow activity.

Try using a fishbone diagram to identify issues in the method, equipment, material, measurements, labor, and environment.

fishbone diagram to explore bottlenecks
(Image Source)

A fishbone diagram will help you to see what’s slowing down the process, where frequent mistakes occur, and any unnecessary steps. 

root cause analysis of processes
(Image Source)

Perform a root cause analysis to dig deeper into the problem. This helps you see past the symptoms and visible problems to pinpoint the root cause.

4. Model the New Document Management Process

Now that you know which parts of the process you are going to automate, create a document management process model.

HR onboarding documentation workflow on frevvo

This should show what will happen at each step of the workflow, where documents will be routed to, what documentation needs to be completed, and who needs to approve the paperwork. 

5. Digitize and Automate Document Management

To truly streamline your document workflows, reengineer the process by digitizing and automating as many of the steps as possible.

If you’ve modeled your workflow with a low-code workflow software like frevvo, you can easily deploy your model as a fully automated document workflow. 

Using the 100% visual, dynamic form builder, it’s easy to switch to digital forms. This allows you to quickly auto-generate customized forms that only show relevant information to the correct parties at the right time in the workflow.

When connected to your SQL database or other internal systems, these forms auto-populate, saving time on data entry. Forms also automatically validate to cut out errors. 

Create a dynamic automated workflow that automatically routes documentation to the correct workflow participants. Real business workflows have complex routing and approval chains – a system that automatically determines the proper routing based on business norms dramatically reduces wasted time due to incorrect forwards and lost documents.

Incorporate your document approval process into your workflow by letting approvers sign off on paperwork using digital signatures. That way, there’s no need for users to manually print, sign and scan documents so they can be forwarded to the next approver.

Approvers are automatically notified of pending approvals. If an approval is not completed before the deadline, the system can automatically send a reminder or escalate to a supervisor. 

To improve record-keeping, you can automate the generation of required PDFs and set these to send to the relevant stakeholders. For example, a new hire onboarding workflow might generate a large number of PDF forms such as a Government W-4 and I-9 and other regulatory forms.

Choose where you want to send documents to automatically update all records.

6. Integrate Your Electronic Document Management System

To make record-keeping easier, you can integrate your electronic document management system (EDM) with your frevvo workflows to make sure you have up-to-date and correct record keeping at all times.

frevvo integrates with systems such as Ricoh DocuWare, Xerox DocuShare, M-Files, DocuPhase, SharePoint, Google Drive, and more. By integrating with your EDM systems, your documents are automatically uploaded, saved, and indexed into your existing system for later retrieval.

Take Living Innovations, for example.

The healthcare organization uses frevvo to produce electronic documentation for new hires which automatically feeds into its EDM, DocStar, for record-keeping.

Alternatively, consider how University of Saint Francis (UCF) integrates frevvo with Jenzebar and SharePoint.

Students can easily access forms using a familiar interface, while all documents are automatically stored to the system for perfect record-keeping.

7. Track Performance and Adjust Accordingly

Once you’ve rolled out your process changes, you need to regularly check on your workflow functionality to make sure it’s outperforming your previous setup. 

Using workflow analysis software, track your performance to see what’s working and if there are any new bottlenecks or knock-on effects that you hadn’t planned for. 

frevvo's workflow analysis dashboard
(Image Source)

Tracking your performance will also help you to identify areas for future improvement. 

3 Examples of Businesses That Successfully Optimized Their Documentation Workflow

Wondering what this looks like in action? 

These three businesses optimized their process workflow tasks for more efficient document management. 

1. Initial Saudi Group

Initial Saudi Group was struggling with extremely slow contract processes that were highly error-prone. 

Contracts took between seven and ten days to complete because they had to be manually approved by multiple parties situated in different locations. Contracts were often misplaced, so the whole process had to begin again.

By switching to frevvo, Initial Saudi Group managed to cut back on processing time by 92% — contracts now close in under six hours. 

Digital contract forms automatically populate and validate. They’re sent to the right approvers based on custom logic. Approvers can sign these contracts remotely with digital signatures. 

There are no more lost contracts, and deals are finalized far quicker. 

2. Bushcare

Environmental services company Bushcare was finding it difficult to manage and delegate daily tasks to its workers. 

Daily work orders were given out in paper form, as were essential herbicide permission forms. Staff had to submit work records by hand at the end of the day. 

Not only did staff frequently miss their work orders, forms often weren’t filled out — leading to compliance issues — and job records were often incomplete. 

By switching to frevvo, Bushcare was able to implement a three-step automated workflow engine. 

Now digital work orders are created and routed to workers automatically. And, herbicide forms are generated and routed to the correct approvers for herbicide distribution. 

Lastly, work updates are completed digitally and automatically forwarded to the right supervisors. Thanks to the seamless Google Drive integration, all work submissions are uploaded to the G:Drive automatically.

3. La Cité

Previously, La Cité College was using a very inefficient manual system to process student registration documentation.

Students had to queue for 20 minutes to hand in paper registration forms that were checked and scanned by hand. Not only was this process slow, but lots of staff were also needed to validate that forms were correct. 

By switching to frevvo’s workflow software, students can now fill out registrations using mobile forms online. These forms automatically validate, cutting out the need for staff to check forms. These forms also automatically route to the right approvers.

As frevvo effortlessly integrates with DocuShare, all documents are automatically uploaded to the electronic document management system without manual input. 

It’s not just that this system is faster and cheaper. It’s also led to a 700% increase in registrations. 

Optimize Document Processes Now

Manual documentation processes slow your team down. Instead of focusing on their main job roles, your team has to spend time completing administrative tasks.

To combat this, you need to streamline your documentation workflow by digitizing and automating the process. 

It’s easy to do this with frevvo. Try a free trial today to see just how much time, money, and stress you can save by switching to an automated documentation workflow.

Author:

Ashish Deshpande has worked in the process automation space for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in successfully deploying frevvo’s software at hundreds of organizations such as HBO, New York University, and Boston Public Schools. Ashish has contributed to leading publications such as Forbes, business.com and readwrite.com. Ashish received a PhD in Computer Science from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India.

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