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What Is A Document Management Workflow?

Laura Bulmer Author: Laura Bulmer

"Document management workflow" is an every day term here at DocTech, but for those who are unfamiliar with what our software can do, we know an explanation is often appreciated.

Understanding A Document Management Workflow

A document management workflow refers to the journey a document takes within a business process.  A Document management system is used to trace, store, manage and organise documents that make up business processes and Workflows sit within this system.

Important documents must efficiently, and with transparency, make their way through the organisation in order for the business to operate effectively.  These documents might include supplier invoices, sales orders or new employee forms. 

Without effective workflows in place that are understood by all employees, processes and lines of communication can break down.

Existing Business Workflows

The first thing organisations should do is to think about the business workflows which already exist.  When documents are received, such as a supplier invoice, an order form or a new employee form, what process do they go through in order for associated tasks to be completed? 

Who is involved and is their time being used as efficiently as possible?  If not, what's causing issues -  paper chaos, lack of business knowledge or lengthy manual processes?

If we take this example of a manual workflow from a furniture manufacturer, we can clearly see where problems arise:

  • A bespoke order is received from a new customer via email which is filed or printed out
  • The customer’s details are either filed away on paper in a folder, added to a CRM system, or both
  • The requirements are checked and the order form is taken to the workshop to be started
  • Whilst in production, the customer rings in with a change to their order, which is logged by customer services
  • To amend the form, the customer service rep walks to the workshop, gets the form and updates it
  • The rep also informs production staff of the change
  • All other departments involved then need to be made aware and update this new information in their ERP, CRM or finance software.

Herein lies the problem - that email or single piece of paper contains all the information needed by the workshop, stock control, finance, and management etc.

Updating the order is a lengthy and time consuming process and if the order form is lost, production is affected. Not only that, the customer may not get their order in time and the business could incur unnecessary costs.

Read More About Document Workflows

How Document Management Workflow Software Can Help

Document management workflow software enhances manual processes by putting automated workflows in place.  It removes unnecessary steps, eliminates manual data entry or copy and paste tasks and reduces the touch points a document goes through.errors with manual data entry

A document management workflow enhances existing processes, making them more efficient.  Tracking, editing, storing and managing all the documents associated with any business process from the moment they enter the business.   

With the furniture manufacturing example above, when an order is received, the actual order is stored directly within the document management system.  Paper orders are scanned in and emailed orders are automatically pulled straight in from an inbox.

An automated document workflow can now begin based on the document type "new order". 

  • Production are notified of the new order via an emailed task to designated employees  
  • A task can also be generated for finance to inform them an invoice will be required and stock control should be updated
  • When the customer rings to update an order, the customer services rep doesn’t need to leave their chair.  They can update information in the document management system, which in turn notifies all those involved of the update
  • Pre-determined rules, set up when the document management workflow was implemented, will decided how a document is routed around the business
  • A digital workflow can flag exceptions to rules, such as checking the order is from a registered, authorised customer against a database. For finance they might check where an incoming invoice doesn't match a purchase order and notifies a finance manager.  Or if an insurance document is about to expire it can initiate a task for a member of staff to renew it

If your organisation relies on paperwork or emails and they don't get to the right person, gets misplaced or overlooked, serious problems can occur.  Slow operations affect growth which can have a negative impact on your bottom line.

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Streamline Processes

A document management workflow streamlines processes.  Process Optimisation 2Documents no longer exist in paper form or in email folders but are digitally stored in the system and processed more efficiently from there.  These documents can still be edited, stamped, filed and approved just as they would in paper form.

A digital workflow improves transparency, users can easily see what work is required and managers can monitor each step within the workflow.  

If a finance employee is on holiday and they are required to approve an invoice, a document management system means that document is no longer sat on their desk waiting for them to get back. 

With a document management workflow, a manager can be notified about an outstanding document approval that is required.  They could choose to action it themselves or have the workflow set so the task is passed to someone else if no action is taken after a set period.

Workflow BenefitsWorkflow

A document management workflow benefits businesses in various ways.  It improves productivity, removes time consuming manual tasks and boosts morale.  Resources are no longer drained saving time and money while reducing risk.

There are a variety of options available with a document management workflow which can be tailored to suit any business requirement.  Automating business processes should be a high priority for organisations looking to move away from paper chaos, manual data entry or lengthy approvals.

We understand that no two businesses are the same.  Drawing on our 40 year history we will work with you to understand your requirements, make suggestions, and put effective solutions like document management workflows in place to provide benefits for years to come.

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