This article will tell you how to digitize your business documents in 2022 with the right methodology and document management software and document workflow systems.
- How to digitize your company documents, manage document workflows and processes in 2022.
- Problem of digitizing
- The first step should be to create a universe of processes for all incoming, outgoing, archived, and destroyed documents.
- The universe of processes
- Business process management for physical, digital and special documents
- Document workflow
- The archivist problem
- Deductive search of the best document management software
- Step two: Create a document catalog and best practices instruction.
- Step three: start filling the document management system.
- Library of document elements and document templates
- Fast OCR and search.
- Document workflow.
- The document lifecycle management in document management software
- Power of data.
- Information security in digital document workflow.
Let’s get started! In the world of digital technology, there are two types of people: those who use technology + systematic knowledge and those who are left behind. Those who use technology understand that it can help them save time and money. They also understand that there are a lot of resources available online to help them learn how to be successful with technology.
Problem of digitizing
A near paperless office will make your business more efficient, your employees happier, and the world a better place. But creating and managing those digital documents is a big challenge. Plus, many lawyers do not recommend completely getting rid of all physical documents and replacing all signatures with digital facsimiles, which creates extra problems when managing both digital and physical documents. But with the right implementation methods, processes, and document management software, your company can take advantage of both worlds!
The first step should be to create a universe of processes for all incoming, outgoing, archived, and destroyed documents.
The universe of processes
The universe of processes is a description of all entities created and consumed during the processes of document circulation, archiving, digitalization of documents. Everything outside of the universe of the described elements is usually not taken into account and consequently cannot be digitalized systematically and is usually lost.
In addition to the actual digitization of documents, the description of the processes makes them more controllable and transparent.
- In some document management software, employees can no longer create documents outside of templates. In organizations using such systems, there is a separate procedure for requesting the creation of new types of documents.
Business process management for physical, digital and special documents
The workflows are usually created and maintained by business process management (BPM) software. These software applications are designed to automate processes and make workflows more efficient. BPM is used in all areas of business, including human resource management, finance, manufacturing, customer service, and technology.
When describing the processes related to document management, it is necessary to adopt common definitions and take into account the points described below:
- There is usually no such thing as a purely digital workflow, because there is always a risk of losing any data, so both physical and digital documents are usually stored, duplicated and archived.
- Sometimes important documents are sealed in special cases that destroy documents when attempted to remove them. Conditions of destruction, expiration dates of documents and copies are important to record in document management processes.
- Sometimes video recordings of how responsible individuals left their signatures, the writing instruments used for signatures, and protocol of the signing process are kept along with specific documents.
- In addition to the obvious digitization of documents by scanning physical media, or by creation of purely digital documents, digitalization can consist of digital indexing of documents, creating machine-readable tags, embedding chips in documents so that they cannot be stolen or shown to unauthorized employees, and can consist of digitizing and systematizing parts of document templates to generate the right documents on demand.
- There are also many ways to protect data, when a document falls outside the organization becomes unreadable.
- It is also important to consider and describe all the processes of information security, so that you do not accidentally get a situation where one employee downloaded a virus-encryptor and all the documents of the organization were encrypted.
Document workflow is the storage, collection, cataloging, disposal of what an organization considers to be documents.
When describing workflow processes, it is important for you to consider all possible routes for the movement of documents, types of documents, to whom what access is open, as well as all possible roles of addressees, senders, editors, moderators, administrators and responsible persons for producing, coordinating, destroying and archiving documents.
The archivist problem
It is especially important to calculate and describe the methodology of the archivist in the form of processes, since this is usually a rather vulnerable place where documents can be lost due to the slightest confusion in electronic document management, as well as when changing an employee to a new one. This place is also the most vulnerable to any government inspection.
Deductive search of the best document management software
One way to find the right electronic document management solution is by describing the main processes, KPIs, and comparing solutions in a table or spreadsheet. Make sure you study all of your choices before committing to one.
The most important property for successful centralization and implementation of a document management software is the ability to integrate with other systems via API, and even better, existence together with other systems in a common ecosystem where information is transferred quickly, without programming knowledge, without distractions.
Step two: Create a document catalog and best practices instruction.
In order for the whole system to work in parallel with the processes, you should design, standardize a catalog for searching documents.
This catalog should indicate the type of document, dates of creation, modifications, the employee who created the document, the reason or situation of creation, which quarter it belongs to, relevance and retention periods.
The catalog should be accompanied by instructions similar to those done by programmers, with best practices for naming and tagging documents and document elements.
Step three: start filling the document management system.
After describing and making improvements to document-related business processes through your BPM system, you can start digitizing documents, documents workflows, roles and entering them into the digital document management system.
Library of document elements and document templates
The most important function of this step is to create a library of documents and the metadata associated with them, as well as the corresponding workflows. Also you should define the content of each document and what types of document it is, what is its purpose, how the document will be used and when. You must also determine the document’s destination, as well as the way in which it should be stored, how much time it should be preserved and how long a document should be kept in the system after its use. It is worth mentioning that it is not enough just to store the document in the system; you must also specify how it can be accessed.
The good document management system also allows you to create document templates with predefined fields, in order to speed up document creation.
Once the database of elements & documents is created, it should be filled with the corresponding information, documents and their elements.
Fast OCR and search.
A document management system should provide fast scanning by making your physical documents readable by the system through OCR (Optical Character Recognition), Intelligent Data Processing (IDP), and the ability to search across all documents.
When creating and storing documents, they must be classified and tagged with the appropriate keywords. Recommendation systems and classification of documents help with this.
With the document management system in place, you can begin the actual process of creating the document workflow. This means defining the document and its context, assigning an owner, a workflow manager, as well as workflow templates. In addition to this, there are two main aspects of the document workflow: the first is about the document, and the second is about the process. It is important to note that when you define the document’s workflow, you need to ensure that the process is completed. This is why it is necessary to think through what documents need to be defined in order to complete the process.
If you want the system to provide access to the documents and the document elements from other systems, you should first set up links between the two systems.
Also the document management software must support an appropriate level of automation, in order to not waste time with manual steps, allowing you to focus on more important issues.
This automation can consist both in the operation of the system itself and in chains of automations throughout the ecosystem. Document management software included in ecosystems with Robotic Process Automation available are especially good.
Using RPA bots, you can do, for example, automatic tagging, indexing, decoding through OCR of scanned documents, and sending them to all necessary recipients.
The document lifecycle management in document management software
The document lifecycle management system helps to manage all aspects of a document’s life-cycle. You can use this system to monitor a document’s progress, track its status, check its completeness, and finally archive it. With the document lifecycle management system, you will have the ability to create and assign actions, to add comments and reminders, and to link a document to an external system. Another benefit is that the document lifecycle management system enables you to perform document maintenance easily.
Power of data.
The more digital documents and workflows go through your system and the more information is stored in the most accurate form, the greater your opportunities for machine learning and big data analysis will be.
Information security in digital document workflow.
You must ensure that all users follow appropriate procedures to maintain confidentiality and integrity. Your digital document workflow system can be an effective tool for this.
All data must be protected at every stage.
Once a document has been scanned and stored in the cloud, the data must not be made available to third parties without your express permission.
In modern systems, this is emphasized through proper design and well-tested code.
I must say that I am absolutely convinced that we are entering the “information age” where digital content is becoming more and more important.
The more digital documents and workflows go through your system, and the more information is stored in the most accurate form, the greater your opportunities for machine learning and big data analysis will be.
At the end of the article I must say that I have not included the most important aspects of secure digital document workflow such as user training. But I hope you get a picture from this overview of what you should be thinking about.
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