b2ap3_thumbnail_BlogImage11.jpgWhat’s the secret to improving business-process productivity while lowering operating costs? For document-driven processes, workflow is the magic ingredient.

For many businesses, scanning paper documents and transforming them into digital images is a first step into content management—but it can be a mistake to stop there. While there are benefits to simply scanning paper documents and getting them into an electronic form, adding workflow can bring an order of magnitude greater efficiency and productivity to document-driven processes.

Automated electronic workflow can be applied to improve a wide spectrum of document processing operations—including invoice processing, loan approvals, insurance claims, mortgages, sales orders, customer inquiries, prescription fulfillment, publishing, engineering drawings, new employee processing, and new customer onboarding, to name just a few.

Workflow improves document processes by automating the flow of documents from worker to worker, streamlining and adding a formal structure to the process. Instead of workers manually passing paper documents and folders from person to person and office to office, documents in electronic form can be transmitted over a network, and can be routed from worker to worker and accessed by multiple workers across an organization and across geographies.

Workflow, however, is more than simply a routing system. Most business processes are governed by certain rules, policies, and procedures. A well-designed workflow system incorporates a rules engine that ensures that the proper actions are taken in accordance with established business rules that are critical when it comes to process integrity and legal or regulatory compliance.

Besides streamlining a process, workflow provides a host of benefits—including greater visibility into a business process in the form of audit trails, and enabling managers to monitor the status of transactions that affect business operations. Worker productivity and efficiency at each stage of a business process can be monitored, measured, and optimized. Automatic alerts can be set when information is missing or tasks are not performed on time, and work can be rerouted to improve a process or when a worker is sick or on vacation.

For processes like insurance claims that involve supporting materials (property damage photos, field investigator notes, etc.), electronic folders with all relevant materials attached can be routed. Workflows also can help workers perform their tasks by making images and index data easily accessible on-screen as part of a dashboard or portal.

Our enterprise content management (ECM) specialists have designed and built workflow solutions for businesses that have helped improve their operations in a number of ways, including:

  • Streamlining a bank’s mortgage approval process and reducing the number of days it took to complete the processing of loans.
  • Improving a manufacturer’s sales order process by ingesting incoming faxes and converting them into electronic files that enabled faster order fulfillment with fewer errors and better accounting.
  • Streamlining a financial services firm’s new customer on-boarding process, which enabled the firm to reduce the time it took to perform background checks  and on-board a customer from two weeks to one day so that the firm could begin trading on the customer’s account.
  • Improving the processing of millions of customer correspondence documents for a health insurance customer by automatically channeling each document to the appropriate department.

Workflow technology, meanwhile, continues to advance—adding support for mobile devices, digital signatures, links to social media services, and cloud-based options. The ease with which the latest generation of workflow can be configured and revised enables business managers to create and modify workflows without having to rely on IT specialists.

Companies that have benefited from document imaging and workflow are gaining further competitive advances by employing advanced data capture, which enables information to be extracted and fed into financial, planning, business intelligence and other business systems.

Workflow can make information available across an organization to yield a number of strategic advantages—for market intelligence, planning, and accounting. As PayStream Advisors relates, “The real value of eInvoicing lies in how successful you are at assimilating invoice data into accounting systems and management workflows.”

For invoice processing, as PayStream Advisors explains, workflow allows workers to respond quickly and effectively to supplier inquiries, while supervisors gain the ability to track the status of individual invoices, view the work of individual approvers, or monitor the entire approval process. Moreover, early capture of invoices ensures that all liabilities are accounted for, facilitating cash management and reporting.

To learn more about how your business could benefit from workflow, contact the experts at Imaging Solutions.