Document management is probably one of the most vital challenges for your company right now.
When we talk about documents, we think not only of legal contracts, but also invoices, receipts, accounts receivable, tax documents, and more. Regardless of the department, it’s important that you work efficiently if you don’t want your employees swimming in paperwork and, more importantly, making mistakes.
Today, 92% of workers risk losing important documents if managed manually. In 2023 it’s no longer sustainable to lug around paperwork and flood your offices, which is also visually exhausting for those who have to process it.
There are many companies that have decided to leave this behind and not just outsource the automation of their documents, but develop infallible systems that boost overall productivity and allow employees to put their talent and creativity where it’s needed.
Today, your company will be no exception. We’ll list five key factors to improve your daily workflow and make document processing the least of your responsibilities. Ready to swim in the deep end with us? Let’s get started!
5 sure-fire ways to improve your stationary workflow
1. Digitize the paperwork
It consists of converting physical documents into digital files that can be stored, searched, and shared electronically. It’s an elementary process, but one that will help you in the long run to:
- Save space: physical files can be deleted or stored in a smaller space. This frees up space on your company’s premises and reduces storage costs, not to mention a great visual relief
- Better accessibility and searchability: through keywords and phrases in documents. This allows team members to find the information they need faster and more accurately
- Facilitates teamwork: through access via cloud and online storage systems, helping remote collaboration
- Increased efficiency in business processes: employees can work faster and with fewer errors, as they’re relieved of heavy tasks and can focus their attention on other areas such as improving customer service or development of key skills
- Cost reduction: avoid unnecessary investments in printing, copying, storing, archiving and distributing documents
Having any type of document available in a cloud is an advantage that speeds up many administrative tasks. It’s not about eliminating physical paperwork but to take on unnecessary storage of paperwork. You’ll realize how it’s possible to fully digitally process and even legally sign documents.
2. Use business form templates
These are pre-written documents that you can customize for a variety of business purposes, from creating invoices and contracts to reports and customer contact forms. Their usefulness? It’s simple:
- Consistency: you’ll ensure that all documents in your business follow a consistent, professional format. This is especially important for documents like invoices and contracts that are exchanged with customers and suppliers. Formatting and presentation uniformity conveys a professional and organized image of your company
- Greater efficiency: with a pre-made template for each type of document you need, you’ll ensure that all the necessary information is gathered and avoid having to create the document from scratch. Moreover, if you work in a team, you can share the templates with other team members and everyone can use them according to their function
- Customization: although they’re pre-made, most of them allow customization to adapt the document to your specific needs. For example, you can add your logo, change the font size or choose your company’s colors. This way, they become a valuable part of your brand image
Using Smallpdf’s business form templates guarantees standardization throughout your document flow. If you have already managed to digitize your physical paperwork, using forms is one more step towards total automation. Three key factors are still missing, let’s move on!
3. Capitalize on automated document management tools
The aim is to save, sort and fully handle your business documents in a fully computerized way. Although we’ve already talked about digitizing paperwork, you should always have a human hand and eye in the process. No need for that here, because you’ll have:
- Better accessibility and easier searching: you can classify documents by categories or preset keywords, and the system will automatically sort them for you. These configurations will be saved for all future works
- Increased document security and confidentiality: to protect confidential information and prevent unauthorized access to documents. This helps maintain the confidentiality of business information and guard it from possible theft or loss
- Improve legal and regulatory compliance: meet legal and regulatory requirements by enabling tracking and management of documents and records related to business needs and current regulatory requirements
These systems support entire departments and are reasonable enough to manage themselves through artificial intelligence. We’re talking about completely delegating all document workflow and simply selecting or commanding where they should go or be used.
4. Establish a versioning system
This software is a comprehensive solution to control the number of changes and versioning of a document over time. The introduction of a version control solution enhances the workflow by:
- Record changes and track issues: you can see what changes have been made to a project and who made them. This makes it easier to identify problems and correct mistakes
- Team coordination: when several people are working on a project, it can be difficult to coordinate who is doing what. With a version control system you can see what has been done, who did it and when it was done, which helps with better overall planning
- Experimentation and testing: it also allows you to experiment with new features or changes without affecting the current version of the document. This means you can test new features without compromising the stable or primary version
- Rollback and recovery: if something goes wrong in a project, it’s important to be able to roll back to an earlier version to fix the problem. A versioning system allows you to revert to earlier versions to recover lost work or fix bugs
- Documentation: it also allows you to document the progress of the project. You can add notes to each version, record the purpose of the changes made and any other relevant information
Once you have your documents digitized, use pre-established forms and an automated system, the versioning system will bring order to the entire work history. It’s one more step towards perfecting the workflow, where you can go back and forth in time and correct errors even in reverse.
5. Define actionable protocols and procedures
Moving out of digital and back to the analog of the human eye is essential to improve workflow in any company Here’s a map that shows how to execute protocols taking into account all the above contexts:
- Identify document priorities: these include invoices, contracts, reports and emails, among others. It’s important to understand the purpose of each document and the frequency with which it’s used to know when and how to route it to automated systems
- Create a classification how-to: it’s necessary to create a clear and consistent classification protocol. This will allow efficient organization of the documents and make them easier to sort, even with a digital tool
- Define a step-by-step for new employees: these may include the process of creating, editing, reviewing, approving, and archiving documents. It’s also necessary to define who is responsible for monitoring and what deadlines apply to deliveries
No order exists without the human eye.
Although we’ll leave it aside for a bit at first so you can discover the benefits of digital order, it’s necessary to have a plan in place for each new employee to get organized. Process automation is a support, invaluable yes, but the guiding hand must be clear about what it wants and its significance in the existing framework of the organization.
First think about organizing, then think about streamlining
Work never stops and neither does paperwork to the same degree. But we live in an age where being creative, thinking outside the box, and making changes when needed is the name of the game.
Taking care of paperwork seems uncreative, but it gives you the opportunity to unburden yourself and get down to implementing what’s new. For maximum efficiency in your workflow, remember to:
- Go fully digital: this will free up physical and mental space for every member of your team
- Use pre-made templates: reducing the time spent on each form that needs to be sent to a client or partner
- Take advantage of automated document processing: and replace exhaustive review with more deliberate monitoring
- Use a versioning system: and don’t worry about mistakes you made in the past
- Establish clear action protocols: whether systems fail or you need to personally collaborate on papers, this step-by-step guide takes the fear out of what would happen if the current order had to be changed
In 2023, efficiency means how productive we can be with less investment and, more importantly, less wear and tear. We’re counting on you to follow these steps and take your year to be as efficient as possible. Make it a good one!
Guillermo is a Venezuelan SEO content writer currently living between Uruguay and Argentina. He is currently a head content writer for Skale. His articles have reached more than two million people across the Americas. He is a firm believer in love, dulce de leche and Kelly Clarkson.