When it comes to implementing digital transformation solutions, accounts payable often takes a backseat to other business processes. This makes sense because of the increased rigor that financial documentation goes through during processing. However, optimizing customer-oriented workflows without optimizing your invoice and billing solutions is a half-measure that will generate production bottlenecks in time.
Instead of treating your accounts payable department like a burdensome cost, you can implement innovative managed services that will transform accounting processes into value-generating assets. Once you start quantifying value in terms of cost-savings and efficiencies, the opportunity to upgrade your accounts payable processes is one you will want to take as soon as you can.
There are three ways that managed services can help generate value in enterprise financial departments. From digitally processing invoices to implementing state-of-the-art data and network security solutions, you can provide your accounting department with the tools it needs to produce long-lasting value.
Three Workflow Solutions to Improve Accounting Efficiency
Today’s finance officers have to cope with increasingly complex regulations while being able to offer useful advice to executive partners using modern data analysis to draw insight. This puts CFOs in a position to balance concerns of performance, efficiency, and risk using data that may not always be immediately available.
To be able to take advantage of the data that accounts payable processes generate, you need to collect, store, and communicate data effectively. A solid financial data infrastructure can remove up to 25 percent of your current staff’s workload, increasing your capabilities significantly.
Our workflow optimization specialists identify three valuable ways today’s organizations can reduce waste and inefficiency in the accounts payable department. These include customized workflow solutions, managed print services, and mobile compatibility.
1. Customized Workflows
Your organization operates according to a strict set of unique processes that determine what happens to incoming financial documentation. Those processes include solutions for invoices, procedures for billing, and retroactive corrections of mistakes (when possible).
Paper-based workflows are simply too slow and too inefficient to generate value in today’s workplace. But you cannot reasonably expect to bulldoze your own existing processes and replace them ad-hoc with brand new digital ones.
You need customized digital workflows that mirror your paper-based processes while improving the speed and efficiency with which accounts payable employees process individual documents. This allows you to set hard-and-fast rules that enforce regulation compliance and speed up the capture of incoming financial documentation.
Additionally, customized digital workflows allow you route new documents using automated tools that prevent the possibility of sensitive data getting into the wrong hands. Customized workflows allow you to keep a closer eye on data transfer and printing so that your company enjoys greater data security.
2. Managed Print Services
Printing can account for up to 15 percent of unreported annual business spending. That alarming figure is easy to understand when you factor in the cost of ink and toner cartridges, paper, printer maintenance, and employee downtime caused by printer-related issues.
Managed print services transform your print fleet into a value-generating asset that is scalable, efficient, and easy to manage. These services turn an ad-hoc expense into a fixed fee while incentivizing your service provider to keep your print fleet in perfect working condition.
Powerful analytics allow you to look at print consumption at the individual user level to determine which employees are abusing print resources – and why. This also gives you the power to change your print fleet layout to accommodate employee workflows so that the departments that print the most have the ideal resources available to do so.
3. Mobile Office Solutions
Enterprises are increasingly moving towards the Bring-Your-Own-Device trend. For an increasing number of employees, work no longer refers strictly to what happens at your desk. The ability to process and communicate data from the palm of your hand is an important and valuable asset.
While there are legitimate security concerns to letting employees use their own mobile devices, the fact is that employees will choose on the most convenient way to get things done. If that means using a mobile device to send sensitive customer financial documentation, it is up to you to make sure that the transfer is a secure one.
Developing and deploying robust mobile office solutions help to standardize processes and procedures for using mobile devices. This allows employees to print, scan, and transfer sensitive data from their mobile devices securely, while enjoying full access to company resources.
Are you ready to incorporate state-of-the-art workflow solutions into your accounts payable processes? Join us for a free webinar on May 23rd! Register today.
Every day large volumes of paper documents can become difficult to manage, often leading to data entry errors, loss of information and inconvenient work delays. This inefficient use of time, office technology, office equipment, and human resources can result in significant financial losses for any sized business. Workflow Automation and Business Process Automation help businesses boost their productivity and efficiency.
Workflow Automation software is comprised of a set of tools aimed at maximizing all the benefits of performing automated business processes while reducing costs. It allows individuals to automate repetitive business processes and easily follow up on uncompleted tasks. Users gain knowledge into workflow performance with in-depth visibility into what needs to be done, who is involved in the process and what will happen after an action is taken.
In order to build effective automated processes, organizations should implement workflow software that will deliver the following five essential features:
- 1. Accessibility
Today, the most efficient workflow software systems are mobile accessible, providing users the ability to view document information, give approvals and access data and reports from any location at any time. It’s not enough to rely on one platform, as workflow software should be compatible from Mac to PC, tablet to smartphone and laptop. With mobile accessibility, security is a requirement. Advance workflow software should offer role-based access control so that workflows containing sensitive information can be kept hidden from certain users. Administrators can easily customize what each individual user can see and do, ensuring accessibility without sacrificing document and information security.
- 2. Visibility
High-level decision making depends heavily on the documentation at hand, corresponding data, and effective communication, which can be tough to monitor. Decision makers want to know quickly which processes are on track and which ones are in need of attention. Advanced workflow software provides a structured, centralized system allowing users to effectively track business processes and documents as they are completed. Of course, building automated business processes within workflow software may result in an inefficient process design. Robust, built-in workflow reporting improves visibility, allowing users to see what’s being held up and where to focus attention. This allows key people to instantly check the status of a process, analyze critical workflow steps and make effective decisions.
- 3. Notification
Within a busy environment, people tend to abandon documents if they are not reminded of them. An effective workflow software system will send notifications to remind users of action items such as upcoming approvals, data entry and indexing. With automatic notifications, users no longer have to wait for someone to hand off a document onto their desks. Workflow software makes business-critical documentation available on demand, immediately accessible and ready for action. Event triggers add flexible intervals between workflow actions based on the timing of a process. A process can be set to notify a user once a week, once a day, or once an hour. Ensuring best practices, by eliminating paper chasing and reducing processing delays, workflow software confirms that all steps have been completed correctly and checkpoints met before moving forward.
- 4. Non-Sequential Routes
It’s no doubt that certain processes need multiple manager approvals and review. Instead of building several different workflows for each department, advanced workflow software allows users to create one complete workflow on a singular design canvas that follows a different track depending on which department will do the approving. All steps can now run simultaneously as opposed to sequentially so that more can be done in less time, making the process more efficient.
- 5. Integration
The best workflow software systems will integrate seamlessly with an organization’s existing business applications such as QuickBooks and SalesForce. Users can also integrate their document management workflows with office equipment, including printers and scanning devices, which acts as the catalyst for workflow automation. Additionally, form designing platforms incorporate workflow software to allow data to be accessed and worked the moment it is captured, for more efficient and faster completion.
Workflow software makes any organization become more efficient by helping to save time, avoiding unnecessary manual work and making better use of resources.
Stop wasting time and money. Ensure your solution delivers these five features when it’s time to implement a workflow system in your organization and become the office hero -or rockstar. Learn more about Business Process Automation and Workflow Solutions today by contacting us today!
Stacks of bills waiting to be paid no longer sit on your desk like they might have just a few years ago. Today there are emails letting you know when they have arrived as part of a document workflow. Now you can review each one, sign digitally, add electronic sticky notes when needed and approve to be paid. Once you’re finished, the images are gone and you’re off to your next project. All of this was done with digital images as part of a pre-defined workflow process that was paperless, yet started at the Multifunctional Printer (MFP).
The printing industry has changed over the last 10-15 years. More importantly, the role of the multifunctional printer (MFP) has changed, starting with its name from copier to MFP. In the early 2000s, the copier really was just that—a copier. It wasn’t until businesses started connecting them to their networks that they became MFPs with users relying on them for printing as well. It was then just a matter of time before people figured out that if you could push printing to the MFP, you could also send scanned documents from it back to the personal computer or network. Suddenly scanned PDF files were everywhere.
The evolution of the MFP is really what drove the business community towards document management. With scanning so readily available business owners saw that they could begin digitally filing their paper-based records without the added cost of a dedicated scanner. These early adopters typically tried to emulate their computer file systems by carefully structuring a file system and naming the scanned PDF files. This was great for getting rid of the paper, but as volumes increased, it became quickly apparent that finding these scanned records was not as easy as first thought.
A document management solution became the next logical step with many users simply looking for a way to scan, store and retrieve their documents. Nothing fancy, just helps to get rid of the paper while giving a way to put your hands on important information when the time comes. But like most things, technology changes and with it changed the expectations of the business market. More and more, the MFP became less about printing and more about the flow of business information.
Quickly document workflow became the driving force and the multifunctional printer not only became the place for documents to be captured, it became the catalyst for triggering a workflow process. In just a few years, paper documents were now being routed to their recipients with notifications of their arrival being sent and rules defining the paths they would take.
Most of us can admit that we still love our paper and there are many times we want to print images and flip through the pages as we digest the information. That’s OK—the cost of printing on a MFP is about 10% of what it used to be on a standard printer ten years ago. If the truth were told, we would probably print just as much as we always have since information is so readily available and printing is just plain cheap. The difference is that we just don’t file it any longer, we scan it.
It’s only been about 10-12 years since the MFP was just a copier. Today, MFPs are already designed to handle specialty media, like envelopes and labels, easily. Certain MFPs are taking it one step further by turning into a full-functioning mailing center, printing commercial discounted postage directly onto your project—saving you additional time and money. The landscape of a typical office has changed and has never been so smart, or so easy as it is today.
The possibilities surrounding a changing business world are exciting and it’s not clear to many exactly where they’ll lead us. What is sure is that where document information is being communicated, it will likely continue to flow through the MFP as an on-ramp to digital information management and productivity.
James Walker, Regional Director of Managed IT Services
James oversees the Chattanooga, Nashville and Huntsville markets of our managed IT Services department. In his role he manages service delivery and support of engineers in all regions, does security and compliance auditing, and works with businesses in network design, implementation and troubleshooting. He has been in the technology industry for over 24 years. James is originally from Boston, MA and works out of our Chattanooga office. He joined RJ Young in January 2013 through the acquisition of his previous company, Preferred Computers, Inc.
All companies face challenges when dealing with paperwork, slowing down the flow of business information and productivity. The solution? An electronic document management system can organize and store your documents, eliminating paper-based file systems. However, in order to get the most out of a document management software investment, you need to understand that it’s much more than just digital file storage.
An electronic document management system incorporates solutions that enable your business to sustain the competitive advantage you’re looking for. Leveraging the full scope of document management can be concentrated around four solutions that will allow a business of any size to be more efficient, saving time, money and contributing to the overall growth and success of your business.
- Enterprise Content Management
To fully implement electronic document management, it is important to assess all of your essential strategic business goals. Enterprise Content Management or ECM, provides you with the solution to properly manage your content. Different strategies and tools can be implemented, giving businesses new ways of capturing, archiving, and routing document data. Customizable to meet your company needs and business problems, ECM is the primary component to eliminate inefficient paper processes.
- Document Process Mobility
In a business world that is rapidly changing and adapting to new electronic advancements, it is important to make yourself readily available. Electronic document management provides users anytime, anywhere access to your documents through smartphone or tablet devices. Files can be easily located and optimized through any web browser platform. You can also execute workflow commands, continuing the flow of business information, even when you’re not in the office.
- Business Process Automation
Replacing paper files with PDFs and digital documents can lead to more than just clearing up the clutter in the office. Business Process Automation is a solution that can make your daily processes cost-efficient, accessible and error free. Automated document workflows enable organizations to manage project tasks more efficiently by attaching business logic to documentation. Document workflows allow for process consistency, productivity level improvements and change in the dynamic of how people work with critical business information.
- Capture Workflow
Storing your documents digitally will surely keep everything organized and in one place. But storing them effectively and knowing how to find the necessary data is the key to document management. With an electronic document management system, you can not only name and categorize your documents, but also set up templates with character recognition, extracting critical information from your stored files or searching within them by keyword and phrase. Every business has important emails, faxes, scanned images and other digital records. By integrating existing office equipment—such as printers and scanning devices—you are able to capture and distribute documents and effectively control the flow of information.
While electronic document management is a solution for organizing and storing documents, it is also equipped with powerful and unique tools that streamline process performance. These value-driven solutions enable organizations of all sizes to save time, reduce cost, increase productivity and make collaboration more effective across all business applications. When evaluating document management software and the impact it can have on your organization, consider the full spectrum on how it can take your business to the next level.
Does the thought of automating your workflow, taking your business paperless and maintaining a secure environment, make you short of breath? Do you want to give up before you ever get started? If so, then first, you are not alone. Second, take a deep breath. Now, great marathon runners did not train overnight, nor are great workflow and automation processes that deliver optimal productivity.
The demand for modern business managers to evolve to secured digital documents and automate workflows is increasing, and it’s critical to remember that the process is more of a marathon, not a sprint.
There are four key stages of transitioning to automated workflows.
- Paper Processes:
- Today’s multifunctional devices are advanced and serve as output management tools as well as an on-ramp to digital workflows. A few features such as secure printing with badge swipe or password authentication help reduce and secure output. Advanced Capture and Data Extraction is a key piece to onboard with an Electronic Document Management (EDM), specifically converting paper files to electronic files by scanning. In some cases, these could be a timely and error prone process if these are manually keyed into the EDM solution. Advanced Capture software allows for organizations to automate the scanning process by eliminating manual indexing and extracting important information to be placed into your line-of-business applications. The right equipment and management strategies will ensure that you are reducing unnecessary output, controlling output access, and building a ramp to a digital document management system – all while improving security of document information.
- Electronic Document Management
- Advanced cloud technologies have helped facilitate secure document management systems, making document information secure and accessible from anywhere at any time. As you transition from paper processes you will see this system develop. A way to automate the document management system is through the use of online forms. Accessible from anywhere at anytime, these forms automatically populate systems.
- Business Process Automation
- Once you evolve by optimizing paper processes and setting up electronic document management, you can advance to automated, rules based workflows. Setting up rules to automatically route, track and distribute documents is a significant step to reaching the pinnacle of automation.
- Optimized Processes
- The bad news is that the marathon doesn’t really end. On-going optimization of systems, made more attainable through metrics provided, is critical to ensuring you stay in the race and in front of what comes next.
What is every corporation’s fondest wish for their team members? It has to be for each of them to be as productive and efficient as possible to create an atmosphere of success. This is challenging, but I believe this is something corporate America must consciously strive for each day.
To help make this dream a reality we are finding that the well-defined workflow and automation within a company contributes greatly to the outcome and measurement of efficiency and productivity. There are four contributors to workflow and automation that are technology based and have proven to advance each of these goals.
1. Enterprise Mobility
We see the team members using smartphones, tablets, and applications at an increased rate, and BYOD (bring your own device) has now become standard, to facilitate access to information from anywhere, at anytime. The degree of mobility that we have reached has hit a plateau of adoption, but also created a need for companies to develop a mobility strategy as well as a document and information management strategy.
2. Internet of Things
The internet of things has allowed workers to not only be connected but also look beyond their corporate software to find applications that have increased their ability to perform their duties. Although at first glance this appears to be a positive impact on performance, it can also present a threat to security, requiring that companies adopt an information security strategy. For example, team members choosing to use an electronic document software application that falls outside the company’s network could put the organization at risk.
3. Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing permits more information to be stored and retrieved by team members from anywhere at anytime. The initial impact has increased the ability for team members to obtain vital information as well as collaborate on projects. These two factors alone have greatly improved the workflow process and helps bring projects to closure much faster. The concern here is that with increased access to information that data must be secured and protected from intrusion and hacking. Documents kept in free public storage drives could put your organization at risk. It’s a company’s responsibility to ensure information is secure.
4. Big Data
Big Data which is related to the vast amount of information that we are able to obtain and how we are able to use this data. With Big Data, companies are better equipped to perform their work in a streamlined manner. Today we are exposed to detailed information that allow us to analyze, capture, search, share, store, and transfer that information at a click of a mouse. Along with this enhancement to our workflow also comes great responsibility and need for security. For example, companies may monitor and manage all printer fleets by analyzing actual usage details from page counts, page coverage and color/black and white ink usage to ensure they are paying the most efficient amount for their printing.
These four contributors are making a profound impact on workflow efficiency and productivity, but as mentioned, with all these contributors comes risk and responsibility.
Filing cabinets, lined up in rows and along walls, are not only taking up space, they are eating into your employee’s time, your organization’s bottom line and threaten both the compliance and continuity of your business. The good news is that same device that output those printed documents could be used as an input device, or on-ramp, to digital document management systems.
Consider a few facts regarding the cost of physical documents:
- $20 to file a document1
- $120 to find a misplaced document1
- $220 to recreate a lost document1
- $8 to $15 to physically send between locations1
- Average document is copied 19 times1
- 40% of businesses that suffer a catastrophic loss never recover2
Today’s multi-functional devices are capable of intelligent scanning and integrate into existing operating systems and workflows of most businesses. Below are four ways your multifunctional device, used as an on-ramp to a digital document management system, can increase efficiency and productivity in your business.
It’s important to think about how much can be saved by increased automation and improved productivity when gauging how much a document management system can reduce costs. For example, what is the cost of the filing cabinets, filing room storage and off site storage that could be eliminated? Can you reduce the cost of overnight document charges? Is it possible you could defer hiring additional full time employees due to increased productivity?
With I-9 errors on the rise, record fines from the SEC and HIPAA violations yielding record penalties, compliance across the board is increasingly important. Through back-file scanning or scanning of new incoming documents, intelligent scanning can kick off workflows to accurately store documents in a searchable central repository. These documents can then be easily located, from any location, within the repository. The documents are also protected with various levels of employee permissions which also creates an automatically generated log of access to document information for compliance purposes.
Collaboration in business helps you track progress or changes by keeping “live” content in a central repository system and giving access to sensitive business information to only those that need it. Documents and information can also be accessed, on demand, from any location.
4.Survive with Continuity
FEMA states that 40% of businesses never re-open after a catastrophic event and another 25% fail after one year. If you think about it your business insurance covers your equipment and inventory but if you are a business using filling cabinets and most of your data is stored on paper what is your insurance for that? How can you recover lost paper documents if they are destroyed in a disaster?
Areas that could have a great impact on the business with a document management system are accounts receivable, accounts payable, human resources management and contract management. Generally these areas handle large volumes of paper and proprietary information that could benefit from reversing the use of your multi-functional device from an output device to an input device and on-ramp to digital document management.
Sources: 1. Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 2. FEMA
Mark is responsible for the software sales and implementation teams. He has worked for RJ Young since 2013. Combined he has over 16 years of experience in the industry where 9 years were in IT and 7 years were in software. Mark works out of our Nashville, TN office and is originally from Montgomery, Alabama. In his spare time he volunteers for the United Way and enjoys kayaking, photography and craft beer.
Henry Ford got it right. He didn’t just give people a “faster horse”. He changed the way we think about personal transportation. Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Many times I sit and listen to customers and what they want is a “faster horse”. They want their employees to crank out more as it relates to paper processes. What these customers really need is a better process for managing paper-based information and not a “faster horse”.
We listen to our customers in order to help them develop an assembly line tailored to facilitate their business process. Just like Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line, RJ Young did not create business process automation. However, we, like Henry Ford, are looking for ways to leverage software solutions to help customers automate processes to become more efficient.
Here are a few ways we can help you maximize productivity and efficiency in your office:
- Build an “assembly line” in the form of workflow for the office environment. We leverage existing technology and tailor it to meet specific requirements for your business. We simply take your processes and digitize them, and then we track and report on progress.
- Connect the steps from many modular and independent processes required to build paths, or assembly lines, to facilitate smooth flowing processes and an overall seamless, digital, organizational workflow.
- User access, or subscriptions, to one or more assembly lines or workflow processes, which provides convenient access to the work items they are assigned, allowing document information to be accessed easily and for faster decision making.
At RJ Young, your productivity is our mission. With this, we do not simply want to give you a faster horse, we want to offer you new perspectives on managing paper based information and workflows. To accomplish this, we aim to learn your businesses goals and processes, then work to build and implement an assembly line of digital processes to achieve those goals.
Ben is a software specialist with RJ Young and works with businesses to design solutions to realize efficiencies while boosting productivity. Prior to joining RJ Young he worked in information technology support and account management for business-to-business companies. Ben is originally from Fort Worth, TX and works out of our Memphis, TN office. In his spare time he volunteers for his church, the Bartlett Basketball Club and can be found cheering on one of his many favorite sports teams.
As we start 2015, more and more companies are looking to learn how we can do more with less. Companies are striving to make the most of today’s resources while continuing to evaluate the bottom line and sometimes we push our resources to do more, the fallout can be detrimental.
So how do we improve efficiency to help our employees do more with less?
The answer would be automation.
First, by understanding that processes need to be improved upon, most companies will uncover redundancies or workarounds that employees have been using. In other words, getting the entire team in the room to discuss will inevitably be an opportunity to correct your process.
Secondly, learning what manual tasks could be automated. Systems that allow for automatic routing of tasks reducing steps and time will improve efficiency but also improve accuracy.
The main goal here is that software cannot improve efficiency alone. Learning how an organizations processes work, improve those processes, then introducing software to help with some of the manual steps involved.
3 Reasons For Document Management and Workflow
Want to take control of the documents, images, data and information that overwhelms your office?
Looking to automate business processes and improve management of your corporate intellectual property?
If your organization would like to gain substantial improvements in business processes, while reducing paper costs, here are three things to consider when justifying document management and workflow.
- Reduce Operational Expenses
Individual workers in a paper document system that handle all of the manual tasks can now be replaced by a document management solution. Filing, search, retrieval, copying and all other tasks tied to document management are capable of being handled by a software solution. Now take the workers who are currently doing those jobs, reduce their time spent on menial paper tasks, and move their focus to tasks that let your company grow and help your customers have a better experience. This means increased productivity and customer satisfaction, with no increase in payroll expense.
- Lost Information and Compliance
Electronic documents can very easily be duplicated and stored off site, even in several locations. In the event of a disaster, your business could be functioning again in a minimal amount of time. The added risk of having to recreate documents in the event of a disaster or theft is often enough for organizations to reconsider how their documents are being stored.
With a software solution, permissions can be set to determine who is granted access to individual documents or sets of documents. Managers or supervisors can view a history of document access ensuring a higher level of compliance for private or sensitive customer and internal documentation.
- Improve Productivity
Document management is a first step into the world of process improvement and workflow. Once the workflows associated with paper documents have transitioned into the electronic world, the potential to manage them and automate redundant tasks is present. A solution that comes with process automation allows you take advantage of the full range of options and customized workflows now available to you with electronic documents.
Mark Turner – Director of Software Sales
Mark Turner brings a wealth of experience in document software systems to his position as Director of Software sales for RJ Young. Mark helps clients be more successful in their businesses through document management, workflow automation and software systems to streamline the transfer of document information.