The hidden cost of poor document workflow
While managed print services have rapidly become commonplace in organisations across the globe, effective document management solutions have been adopted more slowly. That’s despite the fact that the majority of businesses have access to multi-function printers (MFPs) that can print, copy, scan and even fax – and poor document management means businesses are losing sizeable sums of money through the hidden costs of poor document management.
Every day more and more information flows into organisations — everything from invoices and payments to emails, documents and social media data – meaning that unless an efficient document management system in place, information tends to be stored in disparate systems and locations. As a result, the ever-increasing flow of information becomes less usable and takes longer to find.
Some of the costs directly related to inefficient document management are clear – the likes of time taken to manually file and retrieve paper documents, the cost of filing cabinets and even the cost of floor space taken up by paper storage methods.
A cumbersome manual process can also lead to less obvious costs, such as the loss of discounts. For example, where an accounts department spends time copying invoices and filing duplicates before routing them to colleagues for approval, paperwork can be lost, people may be away on business or documents could simply sit for too long on a desk, making it difficult to consistently pay invoices on time, preventing organisations from taking advantage of early-payment discounts. In the worst case companies could even end up on a key vendor’s black list and have a hard time collecting on receivables.
As well as ensuring companies take advantage of MFP functionality – the print and document equivalent of the Swiss Army Knife – paper-based invoice management can automate a number of arduous processes. Invoices are scanned once when they arrive and documents are automatically indexed and stored in a secure central repository. For approvals, the system pushes the electronic invoices out to approvers for review, with status reports and alerts to prevent overdue payments.
As remote and mobile working becomes the norm, end-to-end electronic document management will become ever more important – staff can’t be relied upon to be in the same physical office at the same time. It’s difficult to approve a paper invoice when you’re traveling and your desk’s inbox is 3,000 miles away. But that’s no problem when you’re using a digital document management system.
Other benefits of going digital include:
- 24/7 availability of documents, anywhere
- Easy and fast document retrieval
- Improved control and visibility of documents
- Increased document security – only authorised staff can view sensitive documents
- Less chance (virtually nil) of completely losing a document
- Improved disaster recovery than with paper
- Reduction in print output and the cost-saving and environmental benefits it brings
- Regain valuable office space taken up by filing cabinets
- Cut user training time and cost
- Improved customer service – documents can easily be found on screen while on the phone to a customer
- The ability for staff to spend time on the tasks that matter such as growing business. This highlights the numerous wide-ranging benefits of electronic document management which, in my opinion, is all set to really take off in the business world this year.