Automation. It’s a corporate buzzword that gets thrown around a lot when organisations look to trim the fat by streamlining workflow to increase productivity and bottom line. But the thought of implementing an automated document management system often comes with a double-edged perception; good in the fact that it can speed up manual processes and save time and money, but not so good if it diminishes too much control over processes.
However a solid automation solution will typically result in between 40% and 75% savings that can be seen for several months to several years. As the figures start to stack up, so too does a growing interest in implementing a document management system (DMS) which can integrate automation for a growing number of organisations.
What exactly is automated document management?
In essence, automated document management software allows an organisation to control and manage document and information lifecycles to increase efficiencies and reduce risk. It lets you seamlessly control your documents from creation all the way to archival or destruction . A number of benefits associated with an automated document management process includes increased productivity, reduced costs, increase in efficiencies and a reduction in risk.
A great content management system also shares and manages information across a range of departments and systems within the organisation and provides strategies, methods and technologies for centrally storing and managing information in an organisation.
Not sure whether to push on with manual systems or take the automated plunge? Let’s take a closer look at some real workplace examples to see how automation stacks up against the manual process:
Example 1: Accounts payable
Without automation: An invoice or work order hits the accounts payable inbox to be processed. After it is received, it goes through verification, PO matching, an approval process, and manual data entry before being queued to be paid.
During this process, it can go from inbox to inbox and in-tray to in-tray before it gets approved to be paid, then it is manually processed by the authorised person, and manually archived in a filing cabinet accordingly.
A manual accounts payable process that involves moving invoices between departments and various staff for appropriate sign off exposes the risks of the invoice getting lost in the system, or delays payment, which can result in excess fees, accounts put on hold or missing out on pay-on-time discounts.
A benchmark manual data entry error rate of around 1-2% could cost your company big bucks. In fact, if you apply the 1-10-100 rule of thumb you’ll find an error at the point of data entry costs $1 to correct, $10 to correct at batch form and if left untouched past this point, $100 to rectify. That is of course assuming there are not greater consequences.
With automation: A good digitisation process prevents lost paper documents and has built-in alert functions to reduce the frequency of failures in conducting documentation processing. Documents are also centrally managed so the relevant information can be retrieved easily by the person who needs it. For example Kyocera’s Enterprise Content Management has a unique stamp system, which sets a clear authorisation process as it moves from person to person in the authorisation chain and alerts are sent to remind the person to process the document. This ensures efficient movement through departments, and enhances best practice through consistency of benchmarked protocols.
Example 2: Contract Management
Without automation: A manual contracts management process can increase the organisation’s risks because it expects human interaction to be efficient across things like probation dates and expirations. For example, a contractor performs work for the organisation and there is an occurrence which makes him negligent to loss or damage, and you discover that his actual contract and insurances expired the month before.
A manual system for managing contracts also exposes the department to inconsistencies where staff adopt their own method of processing and managing paperwork, thus increasing room for error.
With automation: There is little room for error with automation as alert functions send notifications which will prevent contracts expiring.
The digitisation of contract documents gives certain users permissions to access documentation and centrally stores terms and conditions and data in a benchmarked format to ensure consistency and minimise risks for error.
Example 3: Procurement & Project Management
Without automation: The manual process of internal circulation for department approval across procurement and project management where few departments collaborate are made much more complicated.
Paperwork, emails and document versions become hard to track and result in delays and potential errors.
With automation: The whole procurement and project management process is made increasingly easy and more efficient with automatic storage and management of various data relating to purchasing and authorisations - including negotiation data and price information, supplier information, individual supplier data files and final contract information, including expiration and terms and conditions.
A predefined workflow that has been customised to the organisation’s approval process will eradicate complicated exchanges of documents and will create efficiencies across document circulation and authorisations.
A new ECM will change how people work and affect the way documents are managed right across your organisation. It's not an easy or quick decision to make, but our Enterprise Content Management Checklist will help you consider your options and identify the right ECM to meet your business needs.