Are you considering deploying electronic document workflows in your company, but you are unsure how to prepare? This post will introduce the main issues that need to be considered in this process.
The deployment of an electronic document workflow system in your company is definitely a big change that will clearly affect the way you do business. Conducting a comprehensive analysis at the very beginning will allow you to identify the relevant issues that will affect the efficiency and effectiveness of your system over the years. So, what should you consider?
You should prioritize the implementation of functions starting with the ‘must haves’ that should be ready to be deployed immediately and those of lower priorities which can be implemented and deployed over time. Predicting which functionality will need to be implemented at a later date allows you to build in forward compatibility to your systems. Because it is impossible to predict all of your company’s future needs it is important to choose a system which is both universal and flexible. Such an electronic document workflow system will allow you to adapt to future needs and scale as your business grows.
Identifying the “must haves”
As part of your analysis, all the processes that take place in your company should be identified and two questions should be answered:
- What we can improve?
- Which improvements will bring the greatest benefits?
Of course there are many more questions you could ask when designing a workflow but these are the two most important questions for setting your priorities. Implementing workflows should focus on things where automation will give your company the greatest savings. As a general rule, anything that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of employees and managers will save you money.
It is important to be aware that the effects and benefits of deploying an electronic system can also extend to those work which remain completely manual. For example, a declaration on the back of an invoice becomes another element in the electronic form and instead of stamping a document receipt you can simply print and attach a bar code. Also, as the businesses you cooperate with modernize, your benefits will increase; e.g. some of your partners are probably already using PDFs files for invoices which can be accepted automatically into some electronic document workflow systems. Over time these benefits will only increase as other technologies such as EDI standards and e-signatures take over. Just as you will prefer partners who can interact with you automatically, other will choose your business if you can automate.
Another important concept is to look at your business as a whole, because while many actions can be eliminated or modified by introducing an electronic document workflow system, some actions will be added. For example, when an employee starts their work for the day they might spend some time entering some information into the system from some client or subcontractor. While this may initially appear to be an added cost it is in fact a reduction in costs because a large variety of other tasks associated with paper documents will be eliminated or be made simple: storage, search, etc. Once you add improved accuracy and the possibility to initiate actions automatically from electronic documents, it is clear to see that this ‘cost’ is actually a huge win for your company.
Integration with other electronic systems
As noted above, your company and the whole business environment is digitizing at an accelerating rate. So the next step is to consider how you will integrate with existing systems, both those you use internally and those your key partners and industry use. This is a multi-directional process: input/output + internal/external. AMODIT is open to integration with other systems.
The deployment an electronic document workflow system often necessitates a reevaluation of current data sources in terms of quality and completeness. For example, you should ask yourself about the condition of your contractor database: Is it ordered? Does it contain all the relevant pieces of information? Is it complete? Is it accurate?
Determining which processes will be improved helps to determine what resources your company’s system will need. This mainly applies to the server and network infrastructure needed to ensure users with the system response times needed to quickly search for documents, prepare reports and dashboard views, etc.
You should also consider what additional infrastructure elements you will need, e.g. document scanners, printers. The infrastructure also includes server operating systems and database systems.
Human resources and time
The time frame within which the implementation of the primary processes and the deployment of the system is to be carried out should be specified. It is also necessary to appoint people to be responsible for specific tasks – business analysis (someone who knows the organization’s goals, processes, and problems), IT (administration). The team should be headed by a project manager who will be responsible for meeting milestones, dealing with unforeseen issues, and ultimately meeting the goals within the timeframe.
Implementing an electronic document workflow system does not have to be such a serious undertaking as it might seem at first. For medium-sized companies, AMODIT can be used as a SaaS (Software as a Service) subscription and be introduced within a few days. Additionally, the IT infrastructure requirements are small.
Thanks to its flexibility and scalability, AMODIT is being successfully used in organizations of all sizes. Some existing deployments have grown to over several thousand users (and are continuing to grow!), and have documents stored in excess of 200 million (also growing!). Regardless of the scale of your company, conducting the proper analysis is the key to choosing the right system and processes to deploy.