Document Automation: Before, During and After
As organizations try to become paperless, there are 3 key stages in digital transformation, and eliminating as much paper as possible. To truly achieve automation from end-to-end, all three stages need to be implemented. Here are some details:
- Capture – the capture stage can mean different things for different processes. If you have a stack of paper invoices, and are looking to automated you AP process, obviously a scanner with document capture software would be key. But take a broader look, and capture can apply to other areas. Maybe you have an AS400 that prints POs? Implementing a spool to pdf solution would create digital files rather than paper. Another area might be inbound fax, or perhaps email with attachments. The overall goal of capture is to set a virtual perimeter around your organization that captures inbound documents and data, and passes them to a line of business system or a workflow process.
- Workflow – a business process management suite or workflow tool can provide a means to move documents and data throughout your organization. It can be fed information from any capture process, and provides the ability to avoid “efficiency killers” like the email inbox or file share. Take for example a hospital that has referrals faxed to a number, they are captured and passed to a queue for processing by staff. This digital process provides maximum efficiency, prevents lost or overlooked items, and with reporting tools, management can have great insight into the process.
- Archive – So what happens when it’s all over? In today’s environment, documents and data need to be readily available for review, audit purposes and legal needs. Both workflow and capture can provide an integration to repositories for storage of document and information. Take the fax process outlined above. The final step could be an archive of the inbound fax and metadata into a specific SharePoint library, or perhaps an OnBase document repository. The archive provides easy search for processed information, and create a digital file cabinet for your organization.
As you evaluate your internal processes, and look to automate, make sure you approach all 3 stages of the document automation chain.