As offices struggle with the impact of the coronavirus, you will hear more and more about the touchless office. As people get increasingly nervous about the spreading of germs, touchless technologies could help workers regain the confidence they need to return to the office.
But paperless processes are just one reason to adopt Electronic Content Management (ECM) solutions. I recently participated in an article for the Imaging Channel about how the coronavirus has accelerated the digital transformation. It is clear that businesses are accelerating initiatives to make workflows touchless and support more work-at-home employees. Given the pressing challenges business face, how can more departments get buy-in from executives to help make this transition happen quickly? Here are a few lessons we have learned over the years.
IDENTIFY AUTOMATION OPPORTUNITIES
Any business process that relies on paper or manual approvals can be automated. However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean it should be done. In fact, many people will get nervous any time it is suggested that you can eliminate a process that seems to be working. We have seen over and over that it is vital to build a business case for automating a process with ECM.
First, identify processes that can be automated using electronic content management (ECM) and streamlined workflows. The most common process solutions are around procurement, accounts payable (AP), and contract management. Take time to map out your processes and understand where information comes into the business, what is done with it, and how it flows.
EXPLAIN THE BENEFITS
Too often, when proposing a technology investment, the benefits seem self-evident to the proposer, but they fail to convince others of the advantages. Before securing funds for any capital projects, make sure the people who need to make the decision understand why it is important and why a particular project will benefit the organization or customer base.
Establish trust at the beginning of the project. Be transparent with what the goals are, and make sure you are personally responsible for communicating the follow-through. If a goal cannot be met, call the stakeholders up, tell them the issue, and manage their expectations.
We have found that hard numbers help engage stakeholders and encourage buy-in. Identify potential savings— identify how much can be saved and what will be the return on investment. If you can’t produce hard numbers, it is harder to get budgets approved.
YOUR LOGIC MUST BE IMPECCABLE
Every business has forms or documents that are essential to business. But just because you can automate routing and processing does not mean you should. Identify the broken processes but also find out why they are broken.
For example, we find that many businesses have digital documents that get printed in order to be approved and finalized. Often, there is a reason why this step is taken. Is it because different departments don’t communicate well? Is it for retention regulations, or that there is no digital storage system in place? Is it simply personal preference by one individual?
Work with the day-to-day users to find the answer to these questions. If you simply create a new automated process without finding out why the old one broke down, you may find the same thing happening over again.
As mentioned above, touchless is the safest way to run an office today. According to the CDC, 80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. But the touchless concept is also a more advanced version of what most businesses have been moving towards, the paperless office. It means more automation, more streamlining and more digitized routing and processing of documents, all done with as little human intervention as possible.
Touchless automation for business processes reduces the manual time for processing the data, minimizes steps in processing and results in fewer errors and higher efficiency. One of the unique features about the process is that it automatically ensures that the minimum cost is incurred in the business process.
Of course, the most fundamental requirement for a successful initiative is getting buy-in from directors and C-level executives. Getting that buy-in helps to set the direction and goals for the project and push it forward. That’s why the first stage in going paperless is to create an internal enterprise content management (ECM) team. If you are ready to push your organization to adopt new ECM and automation technology, talk to the business process experts at the Gordon Flesch Company. We’re ready to help you build that business case.