No matter your industry or size, your company likely processes a multitude of documents every single day. They may be digital files, printed assets, or a mix of both. And the process your teams use to create, digitize, share, and maintain them is called a document workflow.
Whether formally established or not, your teams follow a document workflow to get their materials from Point A to Point B. They have a specific system in place to conduct business and share resources with internal or external teams.
However, if your document workflow isn't intentional or even documented at all, it's probably causing some day-to-day process challenges or even holding you back from your full potential.
In this post, we'll highlight four ways document workflow management can boost efficiency, support your teams, and increase your bottom line.
Standardize Key Processes
Each document workflow you put in place literally documents the standard processes and best practices around creating, sharing, and managing your organization's business documentation.
Since every department uses physical and digital documents in different ways, they each have their own workflows. In many cases, these workflows aren't formally documented or recorded, which means they're guided by institutional knowledge.
While it seems easy to let your veteran employee train new staff or remain the sole operator of your document management system, that well-oiled process will disappear with them if they transition out of your organization.
Documenting each core process and optimizing it through a software solution helps keep your teams on the same page and trains new employees to follow best practices from day one.
For example, employees should always store logs of customer service calls on Drive X, in Folder X, with X, Y, Z Access Permissions, not on their local device.
As you look for ways to create an optimal document workflow management system, ask your current employees what processes they already follow. From there, you'll likely be able to determine a consensus and cut out any tedious or costly extra steps — like printing a file in one office, then sending it down the hall so another department can scan it into a cloud-based drive.
Maximize Employee Expertise
The established processes within each document workflow do more than standardize how your teams operate. They also help eliminate inefficiencies and automate numerous tasks throughout your organization.
Automation typically relieves employees of remedial tasks, leaving them more time to focus on higher-level initiatives or processes management rather than execution. For employers, this means a greater value for each team member's wage and less potential work time spent on tedious tasks that a software solution could easily manage. Plus, it dramatically reduces the risk of human error associated with manual transcription, file organization, and more.
Effective document workflow management can maximize team efficiency and reduce manual labor, but its benefits also spread across multiple levels of your organization. Stakeholders, managers, and leadership teams can use document workflows to establish a baseline, then measure both team and process performance against it.
With transparent processes to follow, managers and executives can identify when teams don't follow the pre-defined document workflow or when the workflow itself isn't well optimized. Then, they can use these insights to correct any missteps or remove roadblocks, whether personnel or process-related.
Optimize Your Cash Flow
Bills, invoices, and other accounting-related assets are some of the most critical documents that pass through your organization. That means the processes you follow to manage these documents can significantly impact your cash flow. As you think about your current accounting document workflow and your ideal state, consider questions like:
- Do we send outgoing invoices to our clients on a consistent cadence? Through a consistent channel? How often do we follow up to ensure payment?
- How do we ensure incoming invoices are paid before we file them in our records? How often do we incur late fees due to insufficient follow-up?
- What's our document retention schedule? Does it follow accounting and industry best practices?
You can survey your accounting teams and maybe even a client or two to get a clear picture of your current accounting document workflows and assess any gaps. When implemented correctly, document workflow management can shorten your cash flow cycle and help you avoid late fees or other similar financial penalties on your business expenses.
Plus, putting a well-defined, comprehensive process in place will help prevent invoices, statements, and other critical information from falling through the cracks or into the wrong hands.
Promote Long-Term Scalability
The easiest processes and systems to expand are those that are well-run and well-documented in the first place. Technology-enabled document workflows help create a repeatable, scalable framework for your organization's critical functions.
They allow you to grow your team when you need to but enable you to stay agile and leverage the power of technology to keep operations running smoothly. With the proper workflows in place, you'll be able to grow your operations even when you aren't ready to add headcount or introduce new variables into your operational structure.
Plus, optimized workflows pave the way for more informed strategic planning and goal-setting, allowing leaders to plan for upcoming changes, remove inefficiencies, and promote organization-wide growth over time.
At UBEO, we know there's no one-size-fits-all approach to workflow management. That's why we conduct a deep dive into your organization to identify the best technologies and processes to support your goals and empower your teams to do great work.
Whether you're operating with an informal process or looking to upgrade your legacy document management solution, our team can help you identify the best-fit solution and uncover new opportunities for optimization.
Alan has been a leader in content management consulting. Alan has worked with hundreds of customers to streamline their document workflows and improve service and communication both internal and external.