We’re sure you won’t need reminding of the fundamentally important role documents – both physical and virtual – play in your organisation’s day-to-day operations.

With the various common business documents encompassing everything from invoices, purchase orders and finance reports to HR guidelines, software documentation, marketing materials, and much more, there will be a lot of documents that support your own business’s activities.

For your organisation, those documents are likely to run into the hundreds, or even thousands. So, when it comes to the routine management of those documents, it should not perhaps be any surprise that manual document processing is being phased out by many companies in favour of more digital and automated methods.

Document Management Workflow

What is document workflow management?

The term ‘document workflow management’ refers to the organised movement of documents between different places or people, in order to fulfil a specific purpose.

The use of documents within the workplace to support all manner of business functions is practically unavoidable, and the typical document used within your own business will pass through various ‘checkpoints’. It might be passed between various employees, departments, and/or other parties, perhaps undergoing a multitude of approvals and changes.

Even once a document is processed, it will often need to be effectively stored away, whether in a physical filing cabinet or an electronic document management system, so that it can be easily retrieved later.

In short, the typical business document undergoes quite the journey. And given how crucial these documents will be to your business, it won’t be in your interests for your document management processes to be inefficient, unreliable, or poorly organised. So, it is well worth investing in the continual optimisation of your company’s document workflow management.

Why is it important to streamline your document workflows?

The management of your organisation’s documents isn’t a process that you can just leave to chance. Given all the hours that you and your personnel will spend handling documents within the business, you will want your document workflow management to be streamlined for the utmost efficiency.

Below are some of the factors explaining the immense importance of well-optimised document workflows:

  • The need for the utmost accuracy. The optimisation of your business’s document workflows can greatly help cut out those mistakes that can otherwise so easily creep in and need to be corrected later. Inaccuracies in your workflows look unprofessional, can delay vital workflow processes, and can lead to knock-on errors further down the pipeline.
  • Your organisation’s compliance obligations. Compliance will always be one of the uppermost priorities of any responsible company, and the streamlining of your business’s document workflows will help make this more achievable through better record-keeping.
  • Faster processing and improved productivity. A lot of questions have been asked in recent years about how organisations can bolster their productivity, and the streamlining of your organisation’s document management processes will certainly help with that. The manual processing of documents – encompassing such stages as physical data entry and manually filing documents away – is tedious, time-consuming, and a recipe for mistakes. The more digitised and automated handling of document workflows helps eliminate a lot of these issues, so that staff can spend less time having to correct mistakes and other problems.
  • The constant pressure to reduce costs. Manual data entry alone is expensive, due to the labour costs this incurs – even before one accounts for the additional costs of fixing errors. And as we all know, in recent times, businesses have been under greater pressure than ever to lower their day-to-day costs. Faster and more efficient workflows will significantly help with this.
  • It helps bring your organisation into line with the new world of remote work. There is a good chance, even now, that not all the employees within your organisation who formerly worked in the same office space as you, have returned to doing so. In fact, some of them might never return to the traditional office. In the ‘hybrid office’ environment, the continued manual processing of physical documents can be an achingly slow and awkward process. Automating these workflows and embracing the more widespread use of digital documents can allow your business to work at full capacity, even when a lot of your personnel might not share an office.

How to optimise your document workflows to make business processes more efficient

In order to streamline your organisation’s document workflows, you will need to shift from manual processing to more digital and automated approaches. Here are the steps that will enable you to accomplish that:

  • Map your existing process for managing documents. Creating a process map of your existing workflow will give you a better overview of the steps your organisation is presently taking to process its documents, and the connections between those steps. This will allow you to appreciate how your current processes work, so that you can quickly identify areas for improvement.
  • Pick out the metrics that show the performance of your current processes. How will you know your optimised document workflows are actually performing better than your old methods? The short answer: by identifying the metrics that you can track to measure exactly how much the performance of your workflows has improved. Those metrics could include the likes of processing speed, the frequency and number of errors, and the return on investment (ROI) that your workflow delivers.
  • Analyse where the bottlenecks are in your current processes. There are all kinds of issues that can potentially emerge with document workflows, that might be slowing down your own organisation’s processes. But do you know what they are? A fishbone diagram could help you better see where issues are occurring with your company’s methods, materials, labour, and/or environment. This can be supported by a root cause analysis, which will enable you to drill down to the root causes of certain problems, instead of merely addressing the symptoms.
  • Model the improved document management process. So, you are now hopefully familiar with the root causes of your organisation’s current inefficiencies in its handling of documents. You should therefore now be better informed on exactly which elements of the process you are going to automate. As a consequence, you will now be in a position to put together a document management process model. This should detail what will happen at each stage of the workflow, what documents need to be processed, where those documents will be routed to, and who will be responsible for approving the paperwork.
  • Proceed with the digitisation and automation of your organisation’s document workflows. This will be the stage at which so much of it comes together. It is the stage at which you will be digitising and automating various steps in your organisation’s document management process, with the aim of creating what might eventually be a fully automated – or almost fully automated – workflow. This should be supported by the ongoing tracking of your workflow performance – using the metrics we cited earlier – so that you can carry out further refinements over time.

Using software solutions to manage document workflows

When you are looking to optimise your own organisation’s document workflow management, a tool that is likely to make this task so much easier is our own Vision Pro platform.

Vision Pro allows for the easy uploading and storage of documents online, so that you and your personnel can access them from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, using any device.

Not only can our solution enable your business’s documents to be stored securely online, but you can also set alerts to remind members of your team in the event of documents requiring attention or needing to be updated. These can include auto notifications when a document is due to expire, needs to be reviewed, or has other issues that should be urgently addressed.

It all forms part of the complete software package for the management of your organisation’s assets, audits, and risk compliance measures. Speak to one of our specialist advisors today, and we will be pleased to detail more of the ways in which Vision Pro can support your business well beyond the streamlining of its document workflows.