Digitize Your Workflow To Streamline Your Process
Records management is transitioning to digital-based management and technology solutions. The speed of this transition will vary from company to company, but its inevitability is certain: Organizations are experiencing dramatic growth in digital records, dictating that future solutions will be digital.
However, paper-intensive, manual processes are holding many companies back. Employees continue to rely on paper to do their jobs and respond to internal and external requests.
Having the right information at the right time is critical to every organization’s competitive advantage, yet paper documents needed to support workflows are often scattered in file cabinets, file rooms and other locations throughout the organization. This makes it exceedingly difficult for employees to find information when they need it.
By streamlining workflows with digital information, organizations are able to more fully automate business processes, speed digital adoption and deliver demonstrable business value.
Why is this important for records and information management (RIM) managers and business leaders today?
When paper is converted to images, information becomes available at each step of the workflow. Making information available across departments and divisions enables organizations to more fully automate business processes, improve collaboration and decisionmaking, and speed digital adoption.
RIM professionals are well aware of the challenges ahead of them. In a survey of Iron Mountain customers in December 2012, 30% of respondents said their top priority was to automate their workflows with imaging and data capture in order to make the right information available when it is needed.
- Striking the right balance: Many companies think that in order to “go digital,” they need to scan everything. However, they quickly realize that the cost to scan all records often outweighs the potential productivity gains.
- Change isn’t easy: Employees are going to continue to rely on paper because change is difficult. Some employees will resist moving to a more automated approach because they are comfortable with paper, while others may have concerns that automation may drastically change or eliminate their jobs.
- Inefficient workflows: In many cases, paper-intensive manual processes are keeping companies from moving toward increased automation, which is critical in responding to customer needs, reducing costs, addressing compliance and discovery requirements, and increasing productivity.
- Lost productivity: An IDC survey shows that knowledge workers spend an average of 8.8 hours a week searching for information, at an annual cost of approximately $14,000 per worker. In addition, an organization employing 1,000 knowledge workers loses nearly $6 million a year in time wasted when employees have to reformat information as they move between applications.1
Typical approach: If you look at real-world examples, you can see where organizations can achieve significant business value by incorporating records management as a strategic part of operations. In one example, Iron Mountain found that originators of mortgages scanned their documents to process them and then went back and indexed them and finally classified them for quick access. This process resulted in unnecessary duplication of effort and diminished productivity. If records management principles had been incorporated up front to automate and standardize loan file management, several steps could have been avoided and the records would have been consistently imaged, classified, indexed and stored.
Reframing The Challenge
Digitizing workflow is an opportunity to dramatically improve productivity, reduce costs and enable the organization to respond more quickly and efficiently to discovery and compliance requests. So, the challenge can be reframed as follows:
- Quickly locate and access documents online in your document management system or in a vendor-hosted archive without the high costs of scanning everything.
- Eliminate delays and inefficiencies associated with retrieving and working with physical files by making electronic information available to support workflow automation.
- Convert documents from paper to digital to optimize business applications and automate manual processes in areas such as human resources, accounts payable and work orders.
- Accurately index and classify documents for distributed access to enable productivity gains and faster response to audit and discovery requests.
Driving Business Value
In addition to cost and productivity improvements, incorporating records management into more fully automated workflows provides other benefits, including:
- Manage growth: Organizations gain the ability to absorb and strategically manage the dramatic growth of electronic records in a hybrid environment when paper is still part of the process. Digital transformation is inevitable, and organizations must transition or risk being left behind.
- Enhance collaboration: In reducing duplication of effort by making electronic information available when it is needed, organizations can eliminate many of their manual, paperbased workflow functions. As a result, they are able to create processes supported by technology systems, which can enhance collaboration across groups and applications.
- Set the foundation for next-generation business initiatives: Streamlining workflows and managing the quality and integrity of data are becoming increasingly important factors in business initiatives centered on cloud services, mobility, social media and big data. Building the right processes and deploying the right tools and technologies now will not only drive immediate business value, but it will continue to provide benefits for many years to come.
Here is an example of how digitizing paper-based information enhanced business value at an industry-leading company:
Parker Hannifin, the world’s leading provider of motion control technologies and systems, needed a way to cost-effectively manage a national purchasing card program and eliminate manual, paper-based processes. With Iron Mountain, it was able to build a program that converted hard-copy records on both an ongoing and as-needed basis, and hosted the images in a centralized, online repository—improving information visibility and accessibility. The results included:
- Improved visibility via enterprisewide access to information.
- Enhanced fraud detection capabilities.
- Reduced average cost of an audit request by 60%-70%.
A Discussion Guide for Digitizing Records
The following questions are designed to facilitate discussion among record managers, department heads, IT managers and compliance managers, and help you apply the material in this chapter:
- Of the possible benefits that would come from digitizing our paper records, which would be the most advantageous to our organization, and why?
- Automate critical business processes.
- Quickly locate and access records online.
- Improve decision-making.
- Demonstrate business value of going paperless to leadership.
- What processes within our organization could potentially benefit from being less paper-based? What record types would be affected? Where do we currently store those physical records?
- How can we best demonstrate to key internal stakeholders that digitizing our current manual, paper-based processes can result in significant savings that could be reinvested to support our organization’s key initiatives?
- What is holding us back from making records digitization and more automated business processes a reality within our organization: security, technology requirements, staff training, executive support or other factors?
A Discussion Guide for Records Unification
The following questions are designed to facilitate discussion among records managers, IT managers and compliance managers, and help you apply the material in this chapter:
- If 80% of companies have formal policies for records and information management, but only 37% of companies are able to consistently apply policies across all of their records types, which segment of this survey group is most representative of our organization, and why?
- When it comes to unifying our physical and electronic records, which of the most common challenges present the biggest obstacles for our organization: explosive digital records growth, social media, unclear leadership or ownership, managing legacy records? Are there any others?
- What would be the greatest value to the business if we were to pursue unifying our records? How could we demonstrate that value tangibly to our senior leadership?
- Do we have enterprise content management systems that offer records management capabilities, and if so, how are we currently using them?
- What challenges have we encountered when trying to connect systems together so they can share a common policy?
As with many of the challenges facing RIM and business leaders today, a key obstacle to “going digital” is not knowing where you will make the biggest impact and, in some cases, not knowing what “good” looks like. For many companies, this is a relatively new venture. Fortunately, there are vendors that specialize in records management and have significant expertise and experience in knowing how to digitize information and remove paper from workflows, and how to drive business benefits— now and in the future. Ready to get started? Contact Iron Mountain.
1 “Managed Print and Document Services for Controlling Today’s – and Tomorrow’s – Information Costs,” IDC, January 2011