Tips to Streamline & Improve Your Document Workflow

In competitive times like this, all businesses are looking for an edge. The edge can lie in competitive pricing, stellar customer service, effective marketing, and/or something more subtle, something that is interwoven into all of the above examples, something like… document workflow management.

In a world that is becoming more and more digital, an effective Digital Document Management System is the technological enablement your business needs to upgrade the way you manage documents. And when you are able to manage documents with ease, it can positively impact ALL of your business processes – whatever industry you may be in.

This comprehensive guide touches on the importance of having a Digital Document Management System and why optimizing your document workflow is the first step to making full use of this technology. Furthermore, we’ll go into some key document workflow tips. So first let’s cover what document workflow is and how it relates to Digital Document Management. Let’s begin!
Close up of a workflow

What is a Document Workflow?

A document workflow illustrates the various activities (e.g. creating, review, approval) that need to be completed during the lifecycle of a document. The workflow can also contain the participants in the activities within the document’s lifecycle. Such a workflow is created to properly implement or optimize the way that Digital Document Management is set up and this includes non-digital document workflows (e.g printing, signing, scanning, etc). The document workflow is an illustration that can also serve as a reference for team members or participants involved in handling any type of document.

What is Digital Document Management?

A Digital Document Management System (DMS) is a system that tracks, stores, and manages documents digitally. This does not mean that the system is only for documents that are created digitally because paper documents can also be transferred online – meaning it encompasses all kinds of documents. There are numerous benefits to Digital Document Management, such as the following:

Save Space & Reduce Dust

Since paper documents are transferred online, you won’t need the numerous boxes, storage bins, and filing cabinets anymore. An added bonus to this is because you won’t need to store as much paper in the office, there will be less dust accumulating within office premises that can affect the health of the employees.

Full Document Control

With a DMS in place, you get enhanced security and document control. You can now control which users or participants are able to access certain documents as well as what kind of access they have. You’ll be able to track any changes that have been made to a document at any stage of its lifecycle. You can even set up automated alerts for this.

Efficient Document Retrieval

Since documents are safely stored in a digital space, they can also be retrieved with ease. Easily search for documents using a word or phrase found in the document. This way, you can cut down on unnecessary administrative tasks that are needed when a document is misfiled or lost.
Employee is scanning a physical document to transfer it into the DMS

So Why is Improving my Document Workflow so Important?

In the above section, we talked about the benefits your business gets upon implementing a DMS. The next step is to streamline and improve your document workflow. This extends into higher-level benefits such as the following:

Improved Customer Experience

Documents play a key role in various customer interactions. In fact, there are few things that are as frustrating as faulty documentation. Just think of the times when you, as a customer, had problems with contracts, receipts, warranties, and etc. Maybe a receipt was missing with your purchase. Or perhaps a contract that was supposed to be mailed to you never arrived. Then upon calling the business, nobody knows what happened – or it takes forever to get the matter resolved. When there isn’t an effective document workflow, mistakes like this can easily happen and these can spoil customer interactions to the point that the customers are driven away.

Increased Employee Productivity

The ability to share and access information quickly is vital for almost every job role. When employees are not able to get the information they need, they will get delayed with their tasks which then affects their productivity. An optimized document workflow makes sure that documents become retrievable and accessible at the right time and to the right people.

Increased Revenue

While optimizing your document workflow, you can review processes in the business that have a heavy paper consumption. You can review parts of the processes where printing may not really be a necessity. A few tweaks to the process may save you on print costs while also saving your employee’s man hours for tasks that are more meaningful than printing and filing documents.

Compliance with Data Protection Laws

This traces back to the full document control that you have by implementing a DMS. The next step is to carefully review your document workflow so that you can optimize the DMS to be compliant with the data protection law, especially with sensitive documents. By optimizing your document workflow, you can make good use of features like locking a document, restricting access to the document, alerts for when the document is viewed, and so on.

Now that you know what document workflow optimization can do for you, here are a few document workflow tips that you can apply right now.

Tip #1: Articulate the Document Workflows in Place

What’s the current way of doing things? By drawing up the current document workflows in place, you may already begin to observe the following:

  • Is there clear documentation where necessary?
  • Are the documents accessible to all necessary participants at each stage of the documents’ lifecycle?
  • Where is printing, scanning, multiple revisions, signing, and approval present?

Tip #2: Identify the Inefficiencies

Look for parts of the document workflow where there are obvious inefficiencies. These can take the following forms:

  • Parts of the process where paperwork is most often lost
  • Parts of the process where efforts are duplicated
  • Parts of the process where participants lose track of the latest version
  • Parts of the process that are slowed down because of inaccessible documents

Tip #3: Get Input From the Team

If it is your job to optimize the document workflow, you need to understand that the process needs to be as inclusive as possible for changes to be implemented successfully. Consider all the colleagues that are involved in each step of the documents’ lifecycles. The most productive way to do this would be to select a representative for each group involved. Once the group has been able to review the current workflow and brainstormed on how it could be improved, the representative can collect these insights which can then be pooled together for consideration.

Contact Integr8 for Your Document Workflow Management Needs

Digital Document Management can be tricky. If you’re looking to set up a DMS for your business and needing to figure out and/or optimize your document workflow, you can do so with the help of seasoned experts for the best results.

Integr8 is the leading provider of Managed Print Services in Canada and the United States. Together, we can assess and define your business needs and come up with the best solution so your business can be at its most efficient. Contact us today and let’s get started!

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