Address the chaos: 5 keys to going digital

An employee works remotely on a laptop.

In this piece:

Every organization understands that digitizing the paper trail equals time, money and space saved. But if your processes rely on a blend of both paper and digital records, you could hear concerns that sound like:

“Re-entering data into digital systems is going to be a waste of time.”

“We’ll wait before making a decision on data capturing tools. Our staff isn’t trained to use the tech.”

“Our customers aren’t ready to go paperless. Why should we rock the boat?”

Even when the benefits of a paperless office are widely known, many organizations still struggle to narrow down which paper-heavy processes to focus on, bridge the paper and digital divide, and make a decision on the tools to help with this shift.

This guide is a road map to digitizing physical documents efficiently — with a focus on innovation.

5 keys to digitizing documents efficiently

1. Decrease your paper dependency

While solving your paper problem is only the beginning of improving process efficiencies across your organization, you will immediately see some very tangible results — in cost savings, space savings and improvements to customer experience.

Central scanning operation

Set up a central scanning operation where resources are set aside to scan bulk sets of documents. Make sure this scanning process happens as quickly as possible after you receive documents to eliminate the risk of paper mistakes right up front and to limit paper storage needs.

Remote scanning operation

Whether you have a few regional facilities or many facilities around the world, it’s important for documents to be digitized and made accessible as soon as possible. You can either devote staff to another large-scale scanning operation at these other facilities or simply buy the hardware to give staff the ability to digitize paper as needed at those locations.

Employee on-demand scanning

As individual employees receive mail or complete documents, educate them on how (and why) to quickly scan in documents to your electronic document storage — whether a network directory or a content services platform. Invest in desktop scanners or departmental multifunction printers so staff can quickly scan in documents and get back to doing their jobs (instead of spending time walking documents back and forth to central storage or a central scanning operation).

Front-of-office scanning

Instead of having your staff at front-of-office customer-facing locations, such as a registration desk, copy paperwork and cart it over to a central storage location or scanning operation, give them the ability right at the desk to digitize incoming completed paperwork.

Outsourced document scanning

Feeling overwhelmed? Or maybe you have the resources to deal with incoming documents but are not able to dedicate the resources to tackle the paper already taking over your office? Look for a third-party provider that can take care of the scanning operation for you to help you get closer to that paperless office, faster.

All of this comes back to one thing: Paper will still be an obstacle to overcome until you take the steps to overcome it. And, in today’s world, this takes some analysis — into why paper still exists in your operations and, for those places where it just isn’t going away, how many different routes it takes into your organization and how to digitize it the minute you receive it.

2. Embrace electronic forms

Even for those organizations that have already embraced software like business process management to help automate and simplify processes, they still cannot easily connect paper forms to important processes.

Electronic forms should not be seen simply as an electronic version of a paper form. Electronic forms are dynamic — able to change as they receive data or even automatically populate previously entered data. People can quickly complete them anywhere, on many devices and via the web, and immediately submit them. And, when integrated into a broader content services strategy, e-forms can autopopulate with information from business systems, updating them with the new information.

With the right systems, those submissions can instantly trigger automated processes. Try doing that with paper.

Leveraging electronic forms instead of paper forms is a great step to deliver on speed, accuracy and completeness of information.

Take the “there’s an app for that” mindset — there is a much easier tool for allowing your employees, clients, constituents and everyone else to submit information you need to better serve them.

3. Declutter digital storage sprawl

Chances are, paper will still be connected to electronic content you have created or received — content stuck on desktops, in email inboxes, in a variety of network shares or anywhere else in your organization’s connected or disconnected digital spaces.

As technology and the world around us continue to evolve, business content will continue to enter the organization in a larger and larger variety of entrance points and formats. Leveraging multichannel capture allows you to continuously centralize content to make it easier to access, even as the entrance points of that content change and increase.

Most organizations deal with multichannel inbound content through ad hoc strategies, and they struggle to match up paper and electronic content. Or electronic inbound content is printed and then filed or processed alongside paper.

Consider some of the ways capturing all your business-critical electronic content into a central content services platform impacts the organization at all levels.

Provide a single point of access to vital business information

When employees store important information in email inboxes, on individual desktops or in multiple digital locations, it’s impossible to keep track of the most up-to-date versions.

This storage sprawl can also mean staff is unable to find the information they need, when they need it. Immediately capturing content (including communications) into a central system means everyone who needs access can easily find what they need — in one location.

Increase internal and external collaboration capabilities

When staff have easy access to the most up-to-date information and multiple users can simultaneously access information, you enable them to better collaborate on business decisions.

Moreover, when you invest in a file sync and share tool that interacts directly with the content services platform, you empower employees to digitally collaborate with external parties on each piece of content, with complete control over how those parties share that content.

Better utilize your information assets

Capturing all your content and managing it in a central repository not only improves information access but can also enable you to automate associated business processes such as data entry, document routing and approval, or issue resolution. Capturing data into the system or saving it from the file sync and share tool can automatically trigger processes to speed those processes.

The simple step of capturing electronic content into a central content services platform can revolutionize the way you do business. If you have already taken the first step to centralize and digitize your paper files, it’s time to apply that strategy to all the content you receive.

4. Embrace mobile capabilities

There are numerous risks associated with carrying around loose papers and even bigger risks associated with no managed way to capture information. Empowering your team to capture information on a mobile device not only improves the service to your customers but eliminates the risks involved in that information capture.

Consider the benefits of these types of mobile capture:

Image capture

Depending on the industry you work in, there are many scenarios where taking photos of the environment helps build a file with necessary evidence — whether for an auto insurance claim or showing evidence of a patient’s injury.

And, since your employees already have a phone with them, empowering it with the ability to upload to your work environment makes life easier.

Document capture

Employees can also use mobile devices as scanners in the field, taking images of completed documents. It is important to connect this functionality with a content services platform that can flatten, clean up and correct document images, especially if you need automated data extraction performed on the documents.

Information capture

Further optimizing processes, you can leverage electronic forms on mobile devices to capture information and submit it for immediate actions. Those electronic forms should also be able to capture signatures to eliminate the need for paper forms in the field.

5. Consider automation and integration

Whether you’re calling it automated data capture, automated data extraction, or optical character recognition (OCR) software, intelligent automation has limitless benefits. As documents enter the organization, the technology can “read” it, understand what the document is and extract relevant, important information.

How many employees at your organization have to manually enter data from content into your systems? With the implementation of this automation, you can reassign those people to higher-value tasks.

Regardless of the automation technology you implement, it’s important that you can share information with your other systems. Flexible integration technology ensures that, no matter where staff are accessing information, they know it is up to date and accurate.

Even better, it would be worth considering a platform that can help you consolidate some of those systems for easier management. Here, content services enable automated capture to work with other solutions like automated workflow and case management.

Content chaos, dismissed

When all of this is part of a multichannel capture strategy and a larger enterprise content management plan, going digital ensures all your business information is connected the minute it is received and available for immediate processing.

Remote workers don’t impede a process because of the risk and time involved in collecting and sharing information. Instead, they improve, speed and trigger processes from wherever they are.

You might also like:

Over the last few years working at Hyland, creator of OnBase, Jaclyn has definitely started to drink the Kool Aid – day and night enthusiastically discussing the wonderful benefits of OnBase with fellow Hylanders, family, friends, and even complete strangers. Her graduation from the University of Rochester with a major in economics, minor in film studies and concentration in neurological science only goes to show how vast her interests are. With that in mind, it is no surprise she truly enjoys working to market OnBase across an equally vast number of industries – some even mirroring her academic interests (financial services, arts and entertainment and healthcare/sciences) – as a member of the Product Marketing team at Hyland.
Jaclyn Inglis Clark

Jaclyn Inglis Clark

Over the last few years working at Hyland, creator of OnBase, Jaclyn has definitely started to drink the Kool Aid – day and night enthusiastically discussing the wonderful benefits of... read more about: Jaclyn Inglis Clark