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Is 2019 the time to finally cut the paper?

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James Smith, Head of UK Sales, Kefron looks at why 2019 is the year for digital transformation

Whether we are in Europe, out of Europe or working through agreements businesses in the UK are going to have to continue to trade with and compete against European business.  Apart from any new barriers or hurdles to trade that might materialise after Brexit, British business is already on the back foot.  According to the industry-led organisation, ‘Be the Business’ focused on improving productivity in British business, we are lagging  our European counterparts by up to a quarter. 


2019 is therefore probably a good time for Senior Managers to seek ways to increase productivity. One crucial way this can be achieved is through investment in technology that can bring automation across business functions and processes.


Automation isn’t all about robots

For some, the thought of automation evokes visions of robots making coffee, assembly line mechanical arms or driverless cars. But actually, automation has a strong place in practical applications in business processes.


Business process automation enables efficient, effective, productive companies via integration of information and systems. This allows for real time monitoring, reliability and security and streamlines processes creating simplicity and speed.


What does automation look like for businesses for 2019?

Automation solutions are based on converting paper documents to digital format and then extracting the key data for onward processing in a workflow.  These might include process-specific options that deal with a particular functional process such as Accounts Payable Invoice Processing or more general Document Management and Workflow Automation solutions that can be applied across a number of different processes and departments.  Successful implementation of these types of solutions can deliver a reduction in processing time of up to 80%.  Robotic Process Automation software is also an option as this can be applied to many manual tasks such as data entry or data transfer to help make time-intensive work much more efficient. 


Where did I save…

For us one of the biggest complaints we have from customers is the time the team spends looking for files, both digitally and physically. On average workers spend 4.5 hours a week looking for files which have been filed incorrectly or across a number of platforms creating a number of places that colleagues are saving documents. What’s needed here is a system of effective storage and a process that is clear, simple and adopted and used by all. Automated systems allow this and in turn save a huge amount of time each week with people no longer trying to find documents. In addition, there is no need to physically store paper as everything is uploaded to a secure cloud based document system.


Waiting for sign off

A major bottleneck in business is the approval process, frequently required by a member of the senior team who in turn are often in meetings or out the office. Delays here cause the team to be delayed with their work or in case of a finance department, for invoices to be paid late affecting client relationships and potentially leading to fines as the Government clamps down on late payments.


Automated business systems are available as cloud-based platforms accessed by secure logins and each individual is given the appropriate authority to access the system and perform tasks. This means those who need to sign off the work no longer have to be in the office at their computer, saving time by speeding up the process. It also helps with employee satisfaction as they are no longer frustrated by the wait.


Creating errors or duplicates

It’s only natural that high volumes of manual work produce errors and whilst we all understand and accept a certain level of human error, it can have a domino effect and knock onto other areas wasting time, money and damaging reputation.


In the area of finance for example invoice processing automation prevents incorrect amounts being uploaded to the system creating issues with payments. In addition, it won’t allow for duplicate invoices to be uploaded which often happens when a supplier is chasing money.


Prevents data breaches

With GDPR and data breaches heavily on corporate agendas, firms are investing in infrastructure that ensures they won’t be vulnerable.   Automated business processes, offered by reputable providers, will come with enhanced security measures that eliminate the risks of data breaches. Data is also stored securely in line with GDPR legislation and can be destroyed responsibility when required.


Audit

Now you’ve seen the benefits, it is crucial to understand where the company is now in order to make the appropriate changes. The best way to do this is to conduct a processes audit. All business areas should be included in the audit where you can make an assessment as to which functions have the most processes or spend the most time doing so or currently need to improve productivity.


It’s also a good idea to interview team members and get a sense of each department’s procedures and the time involved in each to identify who needs help first. In our experience this tends to be functions that hold significant amounts of data and information such as finance.


Identify the right system

Depending on your business needs there are a number of options available. Following your audit you should identify the kind of functionality you need around document conversion, data capture, and workflow automation as well performance criteria such as accuracy, security, and reliability. Based on these kinds of criteria your decision will be guided toward process-specific solutions as invoice processing automation or more general solutions such as document management software or robotic process automation.


Keep monitoring

Once you’ve implemented the systems ensure you hold regular mini audits or send out surveys to the team to ensure the software is providing the desired results and that the users are happy with it. Many software systems offer additional features that you can add on over time, so it’s always worth investigating these too.


So, as we head into 2019 make sure you put digital transformation to the top of your list and within months you will reap the awards of automated business processes.


About Kefron UK

Kefron simplifies the document and information management world for our customers.  We work to understand our customers business processes so that we can take the pain out of paper, enabling customers to focus on what matters to them.  Our services range across the Document Life Cycle, including the latest cloud-based Document and Invoice Management and Process Automation Solutions, as well as services for confidential Data Capture and Document Destruction.   We have been managing sensitive documents and data for over 29 years and have four ISO Certificates to support our commitment to quality service.  Our professional team are skilled in their areas of expertise for delivering the right solution to our customers.  For more information see www.kefron.com