Consumers are driving business change. As noted by CMO, 67 percent of consumers now expect companies to personalize content based on the current context, and are seven times more likely to complete sales when brands respond to inquiries within an hour. This means that paper processes can’t keep up. Organizations need digital workflows that streamline document completion and empower data collection to deliver a real-time response.
Many companies still haven’t got the memo. Despite articles published six years ago, highlighting the danger of “clinging to paper-based document processing“, businesses still spend more than $120 billion per year on printed forms and documents. Even worse? Almost half of all documents generated are thrown out by the end of the workday.
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There’s always a disconnect. Physical document capture, store, and handle processes to appear impossible, but draw their strength from familiarity, not functionality.
Ways to Eliminate Document Process Complexity
Here are three ways companies can cut document process complexity and deliver on digital expectations.
1. Reduce Redundancy
Paper processes remain popular because they’re often seen as less complicated than digital alternatives. Why? Because many document creation and management tools don’t play well with legacy applications and processes, meaning staff spends more time creating and sharing digital forms than it takes them to print off physical copies and walk down the hall.
But without the ability to discover what tasks have been completed and what remains outstanding, staff often create multiple, conflicting workflows that reduce total efficacy and increase overall complexity. Besides, paper-based document handling comes with an inherent security risk. While customers are now willing to share personal data for lower-priced services or extra benefits, they expect this data to remain secure. Duplicated paper forms put consumer privacy on the line.
Digital creation and sharing tools that work with existing applications can help streamline business processes by providing a central hub for digital documentation. Staff can easily ensure they are using the most current form and file versions without risking the personally identifiable information (PII) of consumers.
2. Deliver Data at Scale
Your biggest resource in the digital age? Big data. Your biggest potential problem? Big data. According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, 72 percent of respondents said they “have yet to forge a data culture,” and 53 percent “are not yet treating data as a business asset.”
But with customers now expecting on-demand answers from once-laborious processes such as loan applications and insurance claims, companies can’t afford to ignore the value of complete, accessible, and searchable data at scale.
For most organizations, critical business process data primarily resides in forms. Consider a loan application. Multiple forms from lender, lendee, and third parties (such as appraisers or credit agencies) must be completed before any loan is processed. Using paper forms fragments and frustrates these efforts. Data may be improperly entered or incomplete, reducing the pace of the process to a crawl.
Want data delivery at scale? Form field detection, optical character recognition (OCR), and standardization can help. Using digital workflow solutions, companies quickly pull data from completed forms, correct for data entry errors or missing information, and empower teams to meet evolving consumer expectations.
3. Automate ASAP
Workflow automation is a hot topic creating a frenzy among staff worried about their jobs as automated and AI processes evolve. According to Fortune, some experts argue that up to 40 percent of jobs across the globe could be replaced by robotic automation. The more likely, less doomsday interpretation. Automated solutions will replace tasks rather than jobs. What’s more, automation brings direct benefits to employees’ well-being. As noted by the Tech Republic, 72 percent of workers credit technology for helping reduce the stress of their jobs.
When it comes to paper, automated business processes offer three key benefits:
- Reduced Errors: Humans don’t excel at high-volume, low-skill data entry. Machines do. Digital document automation reduces total error rates.
- Enhanced Agility: When data entry, capture, and storage are automated, the staff is better able to access critical information, analyze data sets, and respond to market trends.
- Beyond Legacy: Good enough legacy processes are losing the battle, but many companies still rely on custom-built, in-house applications, and services that don’t play well with cloud solutions. Set the stage for cloud-based app migration by getting the most from your existing document processes with intelligent automation.
Paper processes are cumbersome, time-consuming, and complicated — but they remain the go-to workflow for many organizations despite the growing need for digital, data-driven solutions. Despite familiarity and functional dependence on legacy solutions, these processes are seemingly insurmountable but increasingly susceptible to the sharp edge of enhanced workflow automation.
Crystal Hoecker is a senior marketing manager at Accusoft. With a degree in Mass Communication from the University of South Florida, Crystal prides herself in her career accomplishments. Since her career began in 2012, she has held various roles in the technology industry at companies including Tribridge, DXC Technology, and Crowdsavings. In her spare time, Crystal enjoys traveling, trying new local restaurants, and spending time with her family.