Workflow Software Solutions: How to Manage Documents Faster
Document management is whatever system an organization uses to track, manage, store, and archive documents. In the past it was done manually with paper documents, but today it’s done with electronic documents and workflow software, which offers countless advantages.
When workflow software is used to manage documents, it not only saves time and cuts down on paper usage (and waste), the software can keep records of every version of a document created and modified by a number of different users.
Document management isn’t just about reports or what people normally think of as “documents,” but includes every other type of paperwork a business copes with, from acquisition forms to time records to expense reports.
How Traditional Document Management Gets Derailed
Think of the “old way” of managing documents. An employee would fill out, say, a paper requisition form with specific items he or she needed, plus their costs. This physical document would be passed along to an approving manager, then to accounting for their approval, and once it reached the end of the approval chain someone would create a paper purchase order, which was physically handed to the person in charge of purchasing.
This way of managing documents takes longer than it has to, and brings risks at every step: risks of lost, torn, or illegible documents, or of approving officials who are out of town so no action is taken until they return. Slow, inefficient operations like this affect business performance and the company bottom line.
What You Can Expect from Documents Managed by Workflow Software
When workflow software is used for document management, documents can be uploaded, passed along, modified electronically, and downloaded where necessary. Documents can also be generated by the software itself by taking data from electronic forms (which may be entered by several users) and putting it in a template that can be saved in various document formats. For example, information from one month’s worth of expense reports can be used to create a monthly report for a department director to make tracking of departmental expenses easier.
Workflow software can also manage access permissions, allowing only those with permission to access or modify documents. Documents can be electronically organized into relevant folders and subfolders, with an audit trail automatically created so that every change to a document is recorded.
How Workflow Software Can Prevent Problems Later
Suppose that in six months, you find yourself in the position of having to prove that you obtained proper approval for a purchase order. With a paper process, you have to hunt down the paper documents and hope you find the right one with the right signatures. With workflow software, however, you have an audit trail showing who handled the document and when, and what the document contained before and after they handled it. And it’s all stored electronically, so any document version needed can be found instantly.
Approval workflows can be made to assign tasks, generate automatic alerts for affected personnel, and create a record of the entire document creation process, from the beginning through archival. Employees can concentrate on doing the work rather than trying to track down the right people for signatures.
How Managing Documents with Workflow Software Saves Money
Taking just one document management process and making it electronic rather than paper-based can result in significant savings on paper, ink, printer wear, and physical storage needs. What’s more, processes are much faster, so what may have taken a week before can be done in a day instead. Finally, electronic document management using workflow software reduces errors. There’s no worry about a paper document being illegible, coffee-stained, or lost, or about two versions of a paper document inadvertently being routed around at the same time. The time spent diagnosing and fixing errors in the document management process falls precipitously.
Expensive Turnkey Document Management Systems Not Necessary
Not that long ago, document management systems were expensive turnkey systems that shoehorned users into doing things the way the software makers dictated. That’s all changed. With PerfectForms, you can create custom electronic forms and workflows with an easy drag-and-drop interface, so your forms and your processes align perfectly with how your company gets things done.
Have a look at the PerfectForms demo and see for yourself how easy it is to manage documents and an unlimited number of other workflow processes, without breaking the bank on expensive workflow software or having to hire a programmer to use it.