January 3, 2018
At the heart of every business is the workflow. The sequence of processes that a piece of work passes through, from capture to its eventual storage, has a profound and lasting impact on an organization. A successful workflow leads organically to a successful business. But as new media and new data are constant features of the digital economy, businesses must learn to constantly innovate and reinvent themselves in order to better manage their workflow.
Naturally, no businesses start out with the perfect solution. Poor decisions are often made early on, and inefficiencies that are difficult to identify and change once they are part of the system creep into a workflow. But companies that are willing to take a hard look at themselves and are committed to incorporating automation into their workflow stand to make major gains as the digital economy gathers momentum and changes the way we work.
The effort to improve efficiency across all aspects of an organization is known as Business Process Management (BPM). “It is the combination of people, process, governance, information, technology, ongoing improvement methodologies, and a commitment by the business as a whole to change the ways in which we work,” according to the 2017 Report on Business Process Automation compiled by AIIM, which found three areas of workflow where most organizations are focusing their attention:
When the capture and workflow aspects of these three key processes are put under the spotlight, then big changes become possible. It all starts with the process of capturing information.
Today’s companies receive a vast amount of incoming information on a daily basis via a variety of channels. All that data needs to be handled and stored quickly and correctly. From invoices and bills to contracts and forms – data arrives in the form of emails, PDFs, scans, and social media comments, and it all needs to be processed efficiently.
AI Foundry uses Info Input Express and variety of state of the art capture programs to manage incoming data. Paper documents are scanned and OCR’d, while electronic documents are tagged and stored in the appropriate location based on classification or file type. Meaningful content is extracted and put into a workflow, as well as populating searchable metadata.
Why Is There Still So Much Paper?
With all the technology at our disposal, most people naturally expect there to have been a profound decrease in the amount of paper generated. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. AIIM explains that “in an era in which most organizations at least claim that they are moving to digitize their business models, the percentages indicate that far from ‘digitally transforming’, many organizations still have a long way to go when it comes to automating the basic back-office processes that are the guts of any business.”
Why is that? Legacy systems cast a long shadow, and many organizations are still shackled by technologies and processes that were established in an earlier era. Change is hard. AIIM’s John Mancini argues that “a number of core processes that frankly have been the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the ECM industry for a long time – contracts management, accounts payable, accounts receivable, digital mailroom, and legal, to name a few – in which the majority of organizations have yet to seriously attack the paper problem.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Not with the tools that are now at our disposal.
AI Foundry believes that enterprise content management (ECM) needs to be tied tightly together with business process management (BPM). That means companies need to have a real-time digital representation of their structures, as well as robust support for controls and notifications that assure policy compliance and remote integration. With these in place, good BPM becomes tightly wound into how a company operates.
ECM became mainstream in the 1990s when early adopters were encouraged to invest in high-value, mission-critical software to automate key processes. That era is behind us now, and the rise of sophisticated cloud computing and mobile devices has brought costs down while making improvements in core ECM technologies more efficient, and available to companies of any size.
AI Foundry’s Agile solutions outperform legacy ECM platforms by offering a new approach in three major areas:
It Needs to be Holistic
Transformation of a workflow cannot be assigned to a single department. From evaluation to software purchase and implementation, buy-in is required across a whole organization if the new workflow is to succeed. Organizations that come together to identify opportunities, improve and automate their processes, and implement changes to their workflow are the ones that are pulling ahead.
The AIIM Report acknowledges that progress has been uneven, but there are solid reasons to believe that a transformation is now firmly underway. “While process improvement and automation are not screaming along at the fever pitch the supplier community had wished for a decade ago, they are truly in motion and gaining momentum.”
There is no substitute for a healthy capture and workflow in any organization. Understanding exactly what it is that is holding your transformation back is the key to unlocking the process and getting ahead of the curve.
Download the Business Process Automation 2017 report, for more detailed insights.
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