Whether you are in sales, accounting or operations, I hope this post will resonate with you. Workflow is a big deal. It is one of those terms that gets thrown about. “We need to optimize our workflow,” says operations and accounting. “You need to optimize your workflow,” says the sales guy. Either way, optimization in life is important, but the key is knowing where to do it. You can diagram workflows, build flowcharts, and invest a lot of money in a software application to facilitate your workflow. These efforts are all helpful, but the key to a successful workflow process is to start with accurate information.
I believe document capture optimization has the most significant area of impact within the world of ECM/document management. Companies large and small have spent significant amounts of money on document repositories and workflow engines. Information capture is either an old legacy platform or just handled manually. Based on the level of effort it still takes to label and store documents, companies have done the minimum required to name and store documents electronically. Document repositories contain documents and data without any correlation, or documents that have not been stored and labeled correctly.
By optimizing capture processes, workflow efficiency can increase as much as 50 percent. An example of an area where capture impacts workflow is the capture of large volumes of information needed to correctly identify and label documents without the need to deploy additional human labor. Simple tasks like matching line items between an invoice and a P.O. are tedious tasks that can — and should — be handled by technology and monitored by human operators. By doing this, accurate documents pass through to workflow without human intervention, while documents with errors are flagged immediately and fixed before being processed. I have heard metrics such as 50 percent of time spent on workflow tasks is spent on 5 percent of the total volume of information. That is a crazy statistic when you think about it, and it can all be resolved by optimizing capture processes.
There are specific applications dedicated to information capture, and these applications can bolt onto the front end of most document management/ERP/workflow systems as a faster, more accurate way of delivering documents and metadata. Optimizing capture through process and technology will drive down labor costs, costs due to error, and accelerate information awareness by providing correctly named and classified documents quickly.
No matter what department you work in, workflow matters. And while we often talk about knowing how to optimize workflow, it’s equally important that we know when to optimize it. Done properly, workflow optimization can cut out that 50 percent of time being spent on the 5 percent of volume. Imagine what your organization can do with that extra time? Now that’s optimization!