Electronic document workflow – for whom and what is it?
Many entrepreneurs and managers would like to implement an electronic document workflow system in their companies. Digital transformation, digitization of documents, DMS… these are very current topics and there is a lot of talk about them in business. It seems that the sooner these solutions are implemented in companies, the better.
However, how to assess whether a company is ready for electronic document workflow? There are several issues that are worth analyzing and answering specific questions will give us an answer.
What is document workflow?
We deal with the circulation of documents every day and this was happening long before the era of computers. The company receives an invoice, employees fill out leave applications, offices send letters, contractors submit offers in tenders, management board members sign contracts… All these activities generate the need to involve specific people in the document workflow process. Each document sometimes goes through a certain formal path several times, it is repeatable, according to a pattern created by a given company, institution or office.
This process, described in its most abbreviated form, is nothing more than the flow of information between various people or objects. The information contained in the documents is processed. This process of document flow among people who perform a specific set of activities is called “workflow”.
Electronic document workflow – what is the difference?
This type of document circulation is, of course, digitized, i.e. supported by information technology. It is very likely that in every company that has a computer, handles e-mails, uses accounting programs, electronic signatures or stores scanned documents – electronic document workflow takes place.
However, business owners may feel somewhat dissatisfied and feel that this “involuntary” electronic document flow is not sufficient because it is not formalized in any way. However, documents are often circulated in paper form, have stamps, and are written in a paper register. There is a desire to put this process into a specific framework.
How and when to do it?
It is worth helping yourself by answering one of the important questions: how many people participate in the flow of documents? One person is not enough to implement major changes, but a few people may be enough to start the process. Several dozen people involved in the daily circulation of documents is a situation in which action should definitely be taken.
The next question concerns the mode of work – does it take place stationary in one location? If so, the flow of documents and matters is simple and does not require radical changes and digitization, because the path of their circulation is short and not time-consuming. However, in a situation where we are dealing with work in several offices, company branches, locations, or even remote work, a workflow system seems to be necessary.
Is Electronic Document Workflow profitable and does the investment ever pay off?
This is an issue that is difficult to assess unambiguously, because a lot depends on the company owner’s definition of “profitability” in a given industry. The document workflow system optimizes administrative work, commonly known as the “back office”. This type of work usually never brings an increase in sales, it is aimed at generating savings rather than profit.
The purchase and implementation of a workflow system is not cheap either. Subsequent maintenance of a given system also costs money. Internal costs should also be added, such as the involvement of people in training the team.
“We’re probably not ready for this…” – what then?
Let’s not give up. The market has several systems that operate in the “cloud” and are equipped with predefined templates of popular processes. Checking such a solution is a good test of whether the system will be accepted at all in a given company and will fulfill its role. Sometimes it turns out that it is sufficient and there is no need to invest in expensive systems, and sometimes companies decide to make purchases seeing a number of benefits. It is worth knowing that from 2022 there will be one modern and completely free document workflow system.
Invest in people
Implementing a workflow system often comes with a number of concerns. Most often in the context of employees whose bosses state that they are not ready for changes and prefer the traditional form of document flow. Life often proves that this is not true.
People are afraid of change, and fear most often only has big eyes. Leaving your comfort zone requires strong determination. Managers will play an important role here as they must be the driving force behind good, long-term changes.
Using free document workflow systems will primarily allow the team of employees to get used to a possible new work pattern. They will feel the benefits themselves or verify what needs to be improved. Only then will it be worth making the decision to invest money. Because a good investment is certainly one that we are sure is being used appropriately.
Are you interested in implementing a workflow system in your company?
Use our fully free Dew-X application, which will make document flow in your company simpler and more effective. Contact us now to easily and quickly manage everyday processes in your company with this tool.