It’s hard to optimize your operational and document workflow when everyone’s not on the same page.
As Harris Interactive points out, you know it’s a real problem when 83% of workers lose time document versioning issues each day. Just imagine them making manual changes in your invoices, quotes, briefs, reports, etc. Every time you need to create, edit, or adjust documents manually.
Fortunately, with the right document workflow management solution, you don’t have to deal with this issue at all.
In this article, we’ll cover what a document workflow is, how it works with examples, and 5 practical tips and best practices to develop a document workflow for your business today!
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is Document Workflow Management?
- How to Create a Document Workflow
- 5 Best Practices for Developing a Document Workflow for your Business
- Inkit Render for PDF Document Automation and Management
What Is Document Workflow Management And How Does It Work?
First things first, what is a document workflow?
Document workflow management is the process of creating, categorizing, editing, storing, and deleting files for your business. It’s your data’s entire lifecycle system.
This system is used to streamline your business’s document processes by lowering errors through automation.
Every business uses documents, but having a proper document workflow process means that you’ll have a much more efficient process that’s largely automated by the document management system you use.
This also means reducing human errors, having an overall smoother and more efficient operations, increasing your cyber security, and more.
According to FinancesOnline, some of the biggest business productivity losses have to do with document management.
Here are some of the biggest benefits you’ll gain by utilizing document workflow in your business.
Losing paperwork is typical in the office, but you’ll never lose your files again if you have a document workflow management system.
They will always be at the tip of your fingertips, available to you and your team members 24/7.
You’ll never have unwanted eyes seeing private documents because you can limit access to them and ensure that all edits are traceable to authorized members.
Rest assured that all your files will be stored in a secure database that is encrypted and has audit logs.
This is also why document control management is so important.
Having your files accessible to everyone in your team anytime anywhere means more room for collaboration. Moreover, a collaborative system will help fix problems faster because everyone will be on the same page.
This system can also keep track of versions before editing. There will also be transparency in this system because you’ll see which users edited the files, lessening the chances for organizational chaos because of traceability.
Automating your documents means that you’ll be spending less time looking for the correct forms to give to clients and writing them.
An automated system also means that it’ll be much easier to find files due to the search function available in your document workflow management system. You and your team can now divert your attention to other things.
Document automation helps with:
- Document creation.
- Delivering the document to the right person.
- And more.
Around 26% of waste and landfills globally are from paper waste.
Transitioning your work to paperless will save you a lot of money in the long run.
You’ll be purchasing less paper, copy toners, and printer inks because everything will be online. You’ll only have to print the items you need to.
Not only will mother nature thank you, but your wallet is sure to thank you as well.
Now, if you’d like to gain the above benefits, here’s what you need to know about creating a document workflow for your business from scratch.
How To Create A Document Workflow For Your Business: 6 Steps To Consider
Different businesses will require different document workflows.
Nevertheless, your company will reap the benefits of automating your documents all the same as long as you build the proper workflow for it.
Each document you use has a lifecycle that goes like something like this:
- Sharing and delivering.
- Legally compliant archival or deletion.
Obviously, the steps will vary depending on your requirements, needs, and the industry you’re in.
So, take the below steps as a general guideline and think of what they might look like for your company specifically.
An effective workflow is key to streamlining your business operations.
Your document management system is purely driven by rules and it won’t execute something it doesn’t know.
Here are the steps you need to follow and plan out to ensure a fully-functional document workflow process:
First, talk to your team and discuss the different workflows that are in use.
Look at the bottlenecks, see how the current system is being managed and how automation can improve it.
Discuss the end goal for each system and set benchmarks for success and customer outcomes.
Identify all your current resources and the personnel assigned to them. This is where you start pooling all your resources and assigning them to different workflows.
Take note of tasks that require approval and who must approve them during this step.
3. Diagram creation
When you’re done planning and organizing your processes, it’s time to make your diagram.
This is the step where you map out your process into a simple and easy-to-follow workflow. You’ll be able to visualize your process here to share with the teams.
For this step, consider your daily operations, standard operating procedures, project checklists, and more.
Before you implement your new workflow, make sure to test it out with everyone involved in the process first.
Then, take note of all the feedback and adjust your workflow accordingly. It will help you make it more effective by eliminating problems and bottlenecks before launching the system.
Potential KPIs to test in this phase will depend on your project and operations. But overall, try to look at:
- Cycle time.
- Employee satisfaction.
- Total project errors.
- Gross profit margin.
- Business goals.
- And more.
Once you and your team have revised the workflow according to feedback and are happy, it’s time to train your team members to use and orient them to your expectations and their roles.
Create new internal guides, standard operation procedures, and update your team accordingly.
Like a document workflow, a new system can be quite confusing initially.
We highly suggest not applying it to your entire organization immediately. Start with one process and then slowly implement the new system across your business.
Then, optimize based on feedback and results.
Here’s what that might look like in practice.
5 Best Practices For Developing a Document Workflow For Your Business
Developing a workflow is a long and tedious process that will eventually lead you to a much more efficient workplace.
Having all your files in a document management PDF is going to change the way your company works for the better. But it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of things you need and the number of documents you need to transition from analog to digital.
According to research, 59% of businesses going paperless achieved full ROI in less than 12 months. For that, a proper document workflow plan is essential.
Here are some practices you can follow for the best experience.
Start with one process
When transitioning to your new document management system, it’s easy to think that it’ll be much more time savvy if you do it all in one fell swoop.
However, the best way to ensure a smooth transition and avoid big problems is to do it one workflow at a time.
Stick to the process: plan accordingly, organize your collateral, create your draft, test it out and revise your process accordingly, train your staff, and then roll it out. Again, do things slowly but surely.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider using SMART goals.
Communicating regularly with your staff and stakeholders is key to ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
In addition, automating your process will mean fewer repetitive tasks to think about in the long run. First, however, you need to announce all changes in the system.
Don’t forget to ask for feedback from your customers and team members to improve the user experience.
Focus on user experience
When creating a new document workflow, make sure to look at it from a user’s perspective.
This doesn’t just include the workflow process but also the design. You have to think about the overall experience. Here are a couple of questions you can ask while evaluating user experience:
- Is it easy to use?
- Is the design straightforward?
- Is the text readable?
- Can I see my next step?
- Does the interface look like an extension of our brand?
- For more questions to ask, see our full guide on questions to evaluate document generation software.
These questions may seem small, but they play a massive part in your document’s accessibility, user experience, and your company’s image.
Analyze workflow regularly
Regularly analyzing your workflows will keep them running as efficiently and up-to-date as possible.
Make sure to discuss bottlenecks with your team before implementing changes in the system.
Zoom out and look at the bigger picture
When creating a document workflow system, look at your entire process from afar.
This will help you stay focused on what you’re trying to build. As the saying goes, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and this applies to workflow systems too.
To sum up, creating your document workflow system is a big job that requires time and resources but is worth it.
What you need though is the right document management system to help with your workflow.
But when it comes to choosing a documentation solution, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
So, if you’re wondering where to go from here, be sure to check out our full guide on 5 considerations for evaluating document management solutions!