If you’ve ever collaborated with colleagues on a single document using a web-based document sharing service, you’ve tasted the power of digital workflow solutions. Rather than passing around paper documents or trying to harmonize input manually, team members can see each other’s feedback in real time with tracking and accountability. This solution not only streamlines the collaboration process but greatly lowers the risk of errors and misunderstandings.
The same productivity-enhancing payoffs are achievable in any scenario where paper-based processes are replaced with digital workflow solutions. Digital documents can be instantly shared or edited by multiple people with full visibility of each person’s contributions. A variety of assignment, tracking and categorization options can be applied to ensure that timely steps are taken in the proper sequence. And since digital documents are searchable, they’ll never be lost or misfiled.
Begin Digital Transformation With Workflow Automation
Digital transformation demands that organizations rethink processes, and workflow automation is one of the best places to start. Begin by abandoning the assumption of physical routing. Multiple people can collaborate on digital assets at the same time, so paper transfers can be replaced with automated notifications. Physical signatures are no longer necessary when approvals can be registered with the click of a mouse or a tap on a phone screen.
Data quality improves because fewer copies are created. Reporting is simplified because managers can monitor the status of every process in real time. The nine hours per week that McKinsey estimates the average employee spends looking for information is all but eliminated.
With workflow automation, multiple tasks can fire off in parallel and be completed in hours rather than weeks. For example, the time needed to onboard a new employee can be dramatically shortened with rules that simultaneously notify facilities managers of the need for a desk, alert IT to provide a computer, and enroll the new hire in the organization’s benefits and training programs.
But there are more reasons to automate workflows than simply to save time. By integrating workflows with other applications, powerful new capabilities can be unlocked. For example, when a customer is added to the sales database, their information can be recorded in the marketing automation system, triggering it to send a thank-you with a coupon for the next purchase. A change in the customer’s status, such as a promotion or job change, can be noted in the organization’s customer relationship management system, prompting a sales representative to send a congratulatory note with an offer. In sales, where timing is everything, having up-to-date and actionable information is the most effective way to convert change into opportunity.
The web-scale companies dominating new economies have replaced paper with self-service automation and linear workflows with parallel ones. Why shouldn’t your organization do the same?