There comes a time when a company document flow based on forwarding physical documents between employees ceases to be sufficient. Rising number of documents and matters as well as employees working from different places – these are the reasons why companies begin to consider introducing electronic document flow.
This article is meant to offer advice on how to organize effective documentation flow in a company.
Defining business and operational objectives
The first step, even prior to the implementation of the system, should be defining business and operational objectives you want to achieve once the solution is implemented. It is a very important task as clearly defined objectives will determine subsequent actions of the project. An example of a well defined business objective in e.g. “eliminating payment gridlocks,” and of operational objective: “decreasing cost invoices approval time by 50%.”
Identifying processes to be improved
Once the objectives desired to be fulfilled are defined, it is necessary to define what business processes (and document types within these processes) should be optimized so that relevant objectives can be achieved.
Analysis of current processes realization
In the next step, it is worth to perform the so-called “As Is” analysis Of the selected processes. The analysis is used to identify particular steps in a given process, the way they are performed (manually/automatically), average duration time and average paper usage. Collecting this information helps in specifying what modifications have to be made in the processes and which changes have to be prioritized (most time consuming, most cost producing, and most risky).
Selecting a solution for electronic document flow
Electronic document flow can be organized using different IT tools – starting with completed applications requiring only to be set up (e.g. MS Sharepoint), through acquiring additional modules in larger systems (e.g. ERP), ending with dedicated solutions ensuring biggest flexibility in adjusting processes and documentation flow. When choosing the right solution, it is worth to verify not only the possibilities and cost of the tool in making own processes more efficient, but also the experience and implementation methods of the provider – these are important factors greatly influencing the success of the full system implementation.
Implementation of the solution.
It is good to start the implementation of the selected solution with one relatively simple business process. This allows to, first, for the quick verification of the implementation realities (also on the part of you own company), second, it allows employees to get used to the new work method.
Cyclical verification of the objectives fulfilment
Effective documentation flow is a solution for fulfilling defined business and operational objectives. Fulfilling these objectives is not always possible on the day the solution is implemented and it often takes some time. Both the selected solution and the provider should ensure support during the transition period: monitoring of the objectives fulfillment level, potential modifications of processes and the solution, so that the objectives are fulfilled.