How many documents are lost or misfiled? And how many transactions and processes are delayed because of this?

This is a problem we’re finding in businesses large and small. Employees are wasting 20-30% of their time weekly managing documents.

Then about 25 hours are spent recreating lost documents. And executives are spending a whopping six weeks per year looking for lost documents.

But it’s not just time being wasted – money is too.

It costs a company an average $25K to fill one filing cabinet. And then another $2,100 annually to maintain that cabinet.

This is a lot of time and money being tossed out the window and in a workplace that’s already strapped for both. These are fully preventable issues, yet many businesses overlook switching up their processes – particularly their workflow.

So what can you do to improve your current workflow and prevent money- and time-sucking processes? We have two words – digital workflow.

If you’re not familiar with what this is or how you can integrate one, then continue reading!

What is a Digital Workflow?

Think of all the tasks you perform in the office that involves paper. This includes HR documents, accounting documents, training documents, contracts, guidebooks, information sheets, booklets, and more.

Imagine having everything transformed into a digital product so you wouldn’t have to store all of those documents physically. And then imagine all the money you’d save on paper and ink in the process.

A digital workflow does just that – it digitizes all of your processes so it’s all accessible on a computer device (desktop and mobile).

But there’s one more step added to the process – workflow automation. This is how businesses are able to save both time and money.

There are various ways workflow automation can work. One example is to look at how your email inbox automatically places suspicious documents into your SPAM folder.

There’s no task you have to perform on your end to continue this process, since it continues working all on its own in the background. Another example is to look at tools used for email marketing.

You create your emails once and they’re automatically sent to users based on their segment and where they are in the funnel. For instance, you can have certain emails sent to new subscribers and other emails sent to those who’ve made purchases in the past.

The way these systems are working 24-7 for your business is exactly how you want your workflow automation to operate.

Before we get into the how, let’s look at the various benefits associated with switching over to a digital workflow.

Why Should I Crossover to Digital Workflows?

Now, there’s a generous list of benefits you can reap when you implement digital workflows into your business. For one, it can help you save a ton of time.

Imagine sending documents to new hires using a tool like eversign. These documents are already bundled together and are emailed at the click of a button. The platform monitors how long the new hire has to return the documents digitally signed.

And they’re able to do so via email using the eversign platform. You no longer have to track down documents nor do you have to worry about misfiling them. This, in turn, helps save your HR department time.

This same process can be implemented into other areas of the company.

Then there’s the money-saving benefit. By saving time, you’re undoubtedly saving money as well. For instance, stats show businesses that use digital workflow solutions save 37.8% of working hours per week, which equates to $132 saved per employee weekly.

Not to mention, you’re also saving money on supplies, such as paper, ink, and toners.

And let’s not forget about the user-friendliness and enhanced user experience. This works for internal and external situations. Your employees will surely love digital workflows. And your clients will find working with you to be a breeze.

It eliminates repetitive processes and reduces the chances of costly human errors.

How to Create a Digital Workflow

So what all goes into creating a digital workflow that works for your company? Well, since all businesses aren’t created equal, there is a way you can go about it to ensure it’s a right fit for your firm.

Now, there are three key areas that can make use of a digital workflow:

  • Operational processes
  • Strategic processes
  • Manual processes

Focusing on all three areas is key to ensuring your workplace is digitized on all fronts. This will, in turn, help to save you time and money across departments.

Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take.

1. Make a List of All Your Resources

In the initial stages, you have to identify all of your resources in order to digitize them. Then in the future, everything will be digitized from the jump.

If you see many of your workflows consist of using paper forms, then these are the areas that need to be transformed. If you don’t already have digital versions of the forms, then you’ll need to create them.

This can be done by either scanning or recreating them in a word processing software. Do note that it’s important to capture the data in the scans so it can be extracted, edited, and manipulated. There are tools out there that can do this for you.

2. Identify the Tasks that Need to Be Done

All workflows should have structure. You’ll find that those that don’t have structure tend to have a linear path.

Those that are structured have graphs and charts that showcase the sequence of various tasks. They show which tasks must be performed before moving on to each step. You’ll have to sit down and go through the process each tasks undergoes or should undergo before reaching the “completed” status.

You’ll need to document this so you’re able to create the same or an improved structure in your digital workflow.

For instance, think of how insurance companies handle claims. The customer service agent processes the claim, it’s then reviewed by a manager, and then the approved claims are passed along to the finance team to be processed.

If the claim is rejected by the manager, it’s returned to the claimant with notes on the reason for the rejection.

3. Determine Who’s Accountable for Each Step of the Process

Now, it’s time to determine who’s responsible for each phase of the process. This will ensure tasks are handed off to the right person and that the individual does their part to keep the process flowing.

Some tasks may be completely automated, requiring no review or approval. Make sure to document these as such.

Then the ones that do have multiple parties responsible should be clearly identified. Include their role, contact info, and what they must do to push the task along to the next step of the workflow.

This is vital to ensure everyone knows who’s accountable for what and at what stage of the process. This will help to minimize delays and will allow workers to quickly identify who needs to step in in the event there’s a delay in the workflow.

Also, create a list of criteria that employees must follow in order to approve or reject tasks.

4. Build a Diagram of Your Workflow

You don’t want to just make a list of the processes and steps for your digital workflows. Visualization is key. It can help make the processes easier to understand.

You can either sketch this out yourself or use digital tools designed for making diagrams of workflows. These come with drag and drop features that make it simple to create workflows quickly.

Search around for the most user-friendly tools so you can get diagrams drawn and distributed swiftly.

5. Test Out the Digital Workflow

Now here’s the fun part – testing out your master digital workflow strategy. This is the only way to determine if it’s the right fit for your company.

No matter how perfect your workflow seems on paper (or software), this doesn’t mean there aren’t any flaws. The only way to know is to test it out.

Create a fake task or project and give it a whirl. Make any adjustments necessary. You may find you need to add or eliminate a step, tweak the criteria, or upgrade software and systems to be more efficient.

Get feedback from your workers to see what needs improving, then use that to enhance your automated workflow.

Creating the Perfect Digital Workflow

Ready to save time and money in your workplace? Then it’s time to implement your own digital workflow. Once you do, you’ll be happy you did.

Don’t spend another year with paper processes. It’s time to start developing your own digital workflow that suits your particular business.

With this guide, you can be well on your way to doing just that. Just be sure to get plenty of feedback from your #1 resource – your employees.

Then come back and let us know your genius digital workflow automation strategy!