September 13, 2022

Why Should you Switch to Document Workflow Automation?

Document workflows are of empirical importance today. With multiple use cases, chances of errors, huge volumes, unstructured data, etc. sticking to traditional methods is a strict 'NO'. With this article, we have tried to throw light on various reasons and benefits one would get post automation.

From contracts and invoices to business plans, marketing brochures, teaching materials, case files, insurance claims, and the list goes on and on. Organizations – regardless of industry – process vast amounts of documents everyday. In fact, the average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper annually and this volume continues to grow by 22% each year. Also, as per a report from automation software maker Zapier it was found that 94% of small and medium-sized business (SMB) workers said they perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks. The report also noted that 90% of knowledge workers found that automation improved their jobs and 66% said automation has made them more productive.

But before we take a deep dive into various benefits of document workflow automation, let's quickly understand the meaning of document workflow.

What is a Document Workflow?

Document workflow is the process that guides a document through your organization until it has all of the relevant authorizations and signatures. At the end of the workflow, the document will be legally binding and ready for archiving or further processing. The exact workflow will depend on the document and your organization’s structure. 

To give an example, the document workflow for a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) might look like this:

  • You create an NDA draft and send it to the HR department.
  • HR reviews the document, makes any necessary adjustments, and sends it to the legal department.
  • Legal completes their own verifications and forwards the document to an internal stakeholder.
  • The stakeholder reviews the document and passes it to the accepting party.
  • Finally, the accepting party signs the NDA and returns it to you.

Now that we have shed some light on what a document workflow is, we need to understand what it means by document workflow automation and the need to automate document workflows.

Why Automate Document Workflow?

If each of these steps is done manually, the process gets very complex. Anyone could forget who the next recipient is, or the document could go to a dead inbox if there’s been a recent staff change. It can also be impossible to track the document.

Automated document workflow removes uncertainty from the process. You can predetermine all recipients, and they can forward the document with a single button. You’ll also be able to track the document in real time to avoid delays.

What Does it Mean to Automate a Document Workflow?

Your business likely relies on several key documents. Perhaps you have files for customers, order forms, reports and more. To explain document automation, let's pick a document type that almost every business needs: HR forms. Let’s say an employee is joining your company and HR needs to fill out paperwork for this.

With document automation, your HR staff has access to the relevant document templates for hiring forms. The form is saved, digital, and doesn’t need to be adjusted. Much of the information that belongs in the form is automatically populated into it. Think of when you go to buy something online and Google fills in your address for you on the check-out for you. 

Document automation works like that but can be even more sophisticated. The software can collect several documents like in-take forms and turn them into the start of a year-end review form. The software may present decision trees and generate paperwork automatically based on the choices your staff make. It can also send forms to others, allowing multiple team members to easily sign off on key decisions like hiring.

With automated documents, your HR professional will spend less time filling out the forms, and this gets your new employee to work faster and the HR professional back to other tasks. That is just one small efficiency that document automation can introduce into your business. Ultimately, anywhere that someone is filling out a form, report, or paperwork, they could have software speed up the process for them. An overall effort to integrate document automation into your business can help you save countless hours and become more productive and lean overall.

Employees appreciate document automation because it frees them from paperwork and allows them to focus on their job. The side benefits are that this also means there is less physical paperwork to manage. You can also eliminate existing physical papers with document scanning.

Who Benefits from Document Workflow Automation?

Document workflow automation has a wide range of applications as it can assist any business that needs transaction-based documents or paperwork. Document automation is used in a variety of sectors, including:

Legal Legal
Sales Sales
Real Estate Real Estate
Financial Services Financial Services
Healthcare Healthcare
Human Resources Human Resources
Manufacturing Manufacturing
Government Agencies Government Agencies

In short, any firm that depends on paperwork, such as contracts, hiring documents, legal documents, financial forms, and healthcare forms, can automate its paperwork and processes.

How to Achieve Document Workflow in Your Business?

Implementing a document workflow automation typically involves the following seven steps:

  • Identify the processes that would make good candidates for automation, namely those made up of repetitive manual tasks. In doing this, prioritize the workflows that are most inefficient and prone to human error or ones that are expensive to do manually.
  • Map out the process and design the workflow. This step requires an in-depth knowledge of business operations.
  • Define the business goals. Organizations should articulate how implementing workflow automation can deliver on specific goals, whether those goals involve saving money, improving efficiency, reducing errors, boosting productivity or delivering another benefit typically associated with this technology.
  • Research, choose and implement the workflow automation software. Organizations should pick software that has the features, functions and service-level agreements at the right price point to help them achieve their stated business goals.
  • Train employees to use the workflow automation software or platform , supporting the initiative with a solid change-management program.
  • Establish KPI metrics and use them to measure success and adjust automated workflows to meet the goals.
  • Drive continuous improvement by gathering employee feedback, which combined with the KPIs can improve the user experience and the overall workflow.

Benefits of Document Workflow Automation

Here are some of the advantages of adopting a document workflow automation for your business:

  • Enhance transparency

  • Decrease costs

  • Improve productivity

  • Increase Stability

  • Eliminate bottlenecks

Enhance Transparency

When employees have clear access to all the right information, they understand the organization’s internal processes better, which leads to increased transparency. The lack of a document workflow may cause duplication of work and redundancies. 

Decrease Costs

Manual document processes aren’t just challenging, but they are also expensive to maintain and operate. The more manual processes you have, the higher number of personnel you will need to handle them, which can lead to more mistakes and higher labor costs. But automating processes with document workflow saves up on operating costs, filing costs, and storage costs.  

Improve Productivity

When you replace repetitive and manual document-centric processes and replace them with streamlined and automated document workflows, it directly leads to improved productivity in the organization. After all, when employees don’t have to manage manual processes on their own, they are able to focus more on their core responsibilities and get more work done in less time.

Increase Stability

A document workflow helps bring more clarity for everyone involved and provides guidelines for how every document should be managed. This reduces overall organization chaos as everyone knows what needs to be done.

Eliminate Bottlenecks

With all of your processes transformed into streamlined workflows, it becomes easier to identify bottlenecks and solve business problems before they cause any permanent damage.

Workflow Automation Examples

Below are some common examples of tasks that document workflow automation can handle:

  • Organizing document approval and signing;
  • Facilitating invoicing and other accounting- and sales-related processes
  • Responding to customer inquiries and requests.

Document Workflow Automation and VisionERA

Manual and paper-based document workflows are labor-intensive and inefficient. They require repetitive tasks like data entry and leave a wide margin for error. VisionERA’s fully integrated document workflow automation capability can help organizations streamline and automate their document  workflows  that are paper heavy and prone to errors. Powerful machine learning coupled with OCR technology can aid businesses leverage hidden insights, patterns, and templates to automatically improve their document workflows. 

Built by experts to provide data accuracy and reduce errors, VisionERA can help organizations across domains to secure business critical information in a short span of time while streamlining tedious, document-heavy tasks in their day to day operations while keeping human intervention to a minimum. 

Loaded with data capturing abilities, VisionERA captures data from a variety of sources, analyzes it and then generates predefined actions such as classification into categories, extraction of key information, routing, and exporting the output to downstream applications for all your business needs. Powered by proprietary AI technology with zero third party dependency, VisionERA can revolutionize document centric businesses with HI-AI collaboration. 

Custom built for organizations, VisionERA can help them recognize real cost savings by aiding them to reduce reliance on human interactions in complex processes while helping them increase their employee satisfaction rate. 

Get faster, consistent results with cost-effective workflows now by booking a trial with us.

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