What’s your core business? Accounting? Legal? Medical? No matter what it is, we’ll bet that a large percentage of your employees’ time is taken up with tasks that are not directly related to your core business…tasks like direct mail, invoicing, maintaining personnel records and a host of other processes that are necessary to keep your business going, but that do nothing to improve your bottom line.
Smart companies are learning that by hiring a business process outsourcing company to manage their internal documents, they no longer have to spend valuable time tracking down the correct invoice, resale certificate, HR record, or any other document. While it’s true that most of today’s documents are created digitally, many companies still have file cabinets filled with old paper documents. Whether digital or paper, most organizations find that managing all of the data contained in these documents is an onerous task.
Paper Alternative is one outsource company understands that your internal documents and data, while not directly related to your core business, are, in fact, both the lifeblood and the history of your organization. Your organization’s internal documents may contain everything from financial records and strategic plans to personnel files and benefits records. So, the question becomes how to manage this data, and improve business processes and efficiencies as well.
We believe that there are three steps to getting a handle on your data:
- Eliminate paper files
- Determine essential processes
- Choose a digital document management system that will enable you to:
- Store, manage and search your documents in a logical way
- Provide enterprise and remote access to documents, based upon need
- Create audit trails for process management and legal discovery
- Integrate and automate business processes with your document management system
- Make the best use of your resources
Eliminate Paper Files
By converting all of your archived paper documents to digital formats, an outsource company can extract the line item detail and other critical data that you need, so that it’s available to you with a few quick clicks, rather than an hour-long search through dusty files. While outsourcing may seem like an unnecessary expense, in the long run, most companies find that relying on professionals costs less in both time and dollars. Another benefit of an experienced document conversion firm is that accuracy of both document scanning and data extraction is usually vastly superior to that done as an “in-house” project.
Some scanning services may require you to box up the paper and ship it to them, but many will perform that service for you, for a fee. Again, your goal is to expedite the elimination of paper. So, hiring a company that is focused solely on that goal usually gets the best results.
Determine Essential Processes
It’s been our experience that many paper-based processes, while at their core essential to a business’s operation, can be improved and/or condensed when transformed into digital processes. If you are a large business, with many locations, many employees and many different processes spread across various departments, you might do well to hire a business process consultant to help you map out your essential processes. A starting place is usually found in an organization’s operations manuals.
Smaller companies are not usually as complex, having fewer locations, fewer employees, departments and processes, so often appointing one person who has a good grasp of the company’s functions to oversee a sort of mapping process of all the processes is all that’s needed. Armed with a few flow charts, this person can usually start the ball rolling, and once begun, then the digital process can be tweaked on the fly for optimal efficiency.
Define Your Needs
Consider the types of documents and other content that you have in your company that your employees need access to or that you need to distribute to other company locations or to others outside your company. Think about the workflow that you need to maintain in order to keep your company functioning smoothly. Think about the ways that you need to collaborate and communicate both internally and externally. Finally, consider any certifications or legal requirements to which your company must conform.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July, 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.