A short guide to digitising workflows in your workplace

It was back in the mid-1960s, around the same time the first computer terminals started appearing in the offices of innovative organisations, when pundits started predicting the paperless office.

As it turned out, rumours of the death of paper-based workflows were greatly exaggerated. But digitising workflows is still a key factor for businesses. With the mass penetration of mobile devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, the rise of remote working, the development of more globalised supply chains, the emergence of electronic and digital signature technology, and the ballooning number of digital-native consumers, even the most change-resistant industries are now acknowledging its importance.

Improve productivity, profitability, and the planet

In the long term, few organisations will be able to remain competitive if they don’t embrace digitising workflows. Right now, for the IT directors who feel like they’re banging their head against a box of A4 copy paper every time they make the case for binning the parchments and ink pots in favour of scan-and-capture technology to digitise paper-based processes—well, it can feel like a slow-rolling process.

If you’re a digitisation evangelist who’s seeking to win over important stakeholders, the good news is the data is on your side. There’s plenty of evidence that digitisation will:

Now, let’s assume you’ve won the boardroom battle—or conference-room conflict—and got the powers that be to sign off (electronically or otherwise) on a digitisation push. What now?

Organisations have different missions, are subject to different forms of regulation, and experience different competitive pressures. A pharmacy, law firm, and plumbing business all need to pay bills and charge customers, but their workflows likely vary considerably.

That noted, there is one foundational stone for digitisation, as well as three business processes organisations have been most inclined to digitise.

First things first: Engage an MPS provider

When you think of work documents, your mind tends to turn toward the office printer. It’s no surprise then that managed print services (MPS) providers are well positioned to analyse your organisation’s informational lifecycle and assist in driving a digital transformation that will improve business process efficiency.

Thousands of organisations across the globe have embraced the HP JetAdvantage range of solutions for workflow management, for instance. Whatever the process (e.g., records management and archiving, claims processing, accounts payable and receivable, risk management, case management, HR management, client onboarding, regulatory compliance, or supply-chain management), a good MPS provider should have customisable solutions that allow an organisation to capture, store, and manage information efficiently.

Pro tip: If you’re trying to work out which is the best MPS provider for your organisation, you’ll want to evaluate the candidates against the following criteria:

  • Whether they are a good cultural fit for your organisation
  • Whether they provide comprehensive assessments and strategic road maps
  • Whether they provide flexible contract terms
  • Their level of implementational, industry, and software expertise and SLA quality commitment

Start with the big three

Aside from teaming up with an MPS provider, there are three processes ripe for digitalisation you can likely start with at your organisation:

1. Accounts payable and receivable

It could cost your organisation up to $56 (or US$40) to process a single invoice manually, according to Due. Given the Australian Government has calculated that businesses process around 1.2 billion invoices a year, that’s a lot of incentive to go digital.

To do this, an audit will need to be carried out to analyse the flow of documents. Once this is done, you’ll want to install automation software that has a user-friendly interface and makes approval and verification tasks straightforward.

2. Claims processing

InsureTech trends similar to those outlined by FinDev Gateway are still a work in progress, but according to Genpact, insurance industry experts are in broad agreement that partly or entirely digitising the claims process has made it more efficient. It should also be noted that digitisation (of any process) makes it far easier to generate big data.

Once this data is available, it’s possible to do things like detect fraud, price risks accurately, and develop new products. As Medium notes, with the rise of AI, it’s also worth making the point—especially to the CFO—that it will be far simpler to unleash existing and yet-to-be-released AI (and thus, improve productivity significantly) on digitised workflows than those that are pen-and-paper based.

3. Records management

According to the National Archives of Australia, even the staidest organisations are digitising physical records to improve access to information, improve privacy protections, and save space. A plethora of electronic document and records management systems (eDRMS) and record keeping–compliant information systems are now on the market. See here for more tips on how to decide which system will best improve productivity for your organisation.

By following these tips, you can start your organisational journey to digitalisation. Down the line, the business decision-makers will be thanking you, as your business will prove more agile and efficient, thanks to your modernisation efforts.