Transitioning to a paperless office is a longstanding commitment to finally bid farewell to paper in your company. With digital transformation, it’s becoming more and more of a reality: whether it’s accounting, ordering processes or HR activities, the handling of documents in internal and external business processes is being digitalized step by step.
There is widespread recognition that the great benefit of using digital documents not only consists in the fact that companies print out less paper and no longer produce mountains of files. By switching to digital documents, numerous company processes can be automated and made more effective. The prerequisite for this is a well-functioning document management system (DMS). It forms the central building block for handling the workflow with digital documents, i.e. designing, implementing and improving processes.
However, many businesses shy away from this task. Either because they are afraid of the effort involved in redesigning processes or because they believe they lack the necessary know-how to implement such processes. In this blog post, you’ll discover the seven biggest challenges in DMS workflow management.
1. Digital Processes Must Not Be a Black Box
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that many individuals have significant knowledge gaps when it comes to everyday digital topics. The majority of respondents were unable to explain two-factor authentication or how to recognize a secure internet connection. These are issues that lots of people face on a daily basis in their digital environment.
Companies are a mirror of society. What’s more, employees often regard digital processes as a black box with rules and functions that are not immediately apparent. As a result, rules are simply followed once they have been established, even if they don’t make sense for a workflow. This results in unmotivated employees who act in a reactive rather than a proactive manner.
To break this vicious cycle, employees must be involved in digital workflows while their processes must be transparent for everyone involved. This is the only way to ensure both the effectiveness and acceptance of processes in a company.
2. Digital Processes Must Have a Defined Structure
Especially in large companies with many employees, processes must be precisely defined so that everyone adheres to them. Defined processes enable you to set up efficient structures to keep workflows moving in the right direction and serve as a guide for employees to utilise their skills where it makes most sense from a business perspective.
This is even more true for digital processes. A poorly functioning document workflow in paper form will not work any better digitally. For this reason, it’s important to put existing workflows to the test when digitalizing processes. At the same time, this presents an opportunity to use digitalization to eradicate old mistakes in the workflow and embark on new digital ventures.
3. Digital Processes Must Be Able to React to Changes in an Agile Manner
Speed is becoming increasingly paramount in our digital world. Organizations must be able to react more quickly to changes and adapt their processes to new circumstances. For the workflow management of digital processes, this means that they must not only be able to react to external influences in an agile way – as was made clear during the coronavirus crisis – but also adapt their processes to new environmental factors.
Digital processes should also allow for rapid implementation of internal improvements on a systemic level. With excellent digital workflow management, you should be able to set up and test new processes within just a few hours. This agility gives all business units better scope to respond to new requirements.
4. Digital Processes Must Be Flexible
Many companies are hesitant to implement digital systems due to concerns that they will create conditions that cannot be undone at a later date. Underpinning this is the fear that rigid processes tend to hinder digitalization rather than making it more efficient. However, this fear is not unfounded.
That’s why every process has to face the question: what happens when you have to change the new process again – and do so during ongoing operations? This is only possible if a digital process is structured in such a way that it can be adapted to new challenges both quickly and flexibly.
5. Digital Processes Must Be Simple and Decentralized
Implementing digital processes often entails a great deal of IT overhead: systems have to be set up and maintained, while employees have to undergo extensive training on how to operate the new systems. Related to this, companies usually have to establish a central authority to monitor the processes and decide what to implement.
Such a centralized approach, based on specialized knowledge and expertise, is expensive, hinders necessary innovations and often has a demotivating effect on employees and entire teams. That’s why digital workflow management should rely on systems that follow a low-code approach and do not require programmers or IT specialists. Each department should be able to design its own processes so that new ideas can be implemented quickly.
6. Digital Processes Must Be Traceable and Identifiable
A digital workflow means that document management processes are fully automated. In rule-based workflows, documents are filed based on predefined parameters and assigned access authorizations for processors or groups within or outside the company.
As part of this process, you have to ensure that this workflow always conforms with the applicable compliance guidelines. To this end, every step of the process must be recorded and documented to ensure you can trace everything precisely.
7. Digital Processes Must Be Reversible and Controllable
Digital workflows are easy to adapt and change. However, this flexibility only benefits companies if it’s not a one-way street. In other words, digital processes require a memory that allows you to reverse changes at any time. After all, you can only make secure modifications to the system if it’s possible to restore a previous state at the push of a button.
At the same time, digital processes require controlling: workflow management can only function efficiently if the process runtimes are monitored and reports generated that provide precise information about the system’s performance and indicate when and where there’s optimization potential.