Order in documents, or how to manage the flow of documents in the company

IC Project , 8 October, 2018

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How many times did the customer write an e-mail to you with a request to send a copy of some papers or your boss asked for the final version of the agreement executed few months ago? In an ideal world, these documents in digital form are located in CRM where a group of selected employees have access to them, who can at any moment download, print or send them to any person. In the real world, not everything is so great anymore. Box files and cabinets overfilled with documents containing tons of papers still reign in many companies. Why it is worth thinking about solutions for managing the flow of documents in our companies? We will try to answer this question.

Document Management – a way to simplify our life

Managing document circulation in the company is a way for simpler management of the entire business. These are no empty words. Simply take a look at some statistics.

In 2012, IDC conducted a worldwide survey among IT department employees. It turned out that such problems as no possibility to open attachments with documents, searching for necessary documents, incompatibility of documents and other small problems in the flow and receipt of documentation results in employees being less productive by 21%.

Harris Interactive conducted surveys among 1000 employees who use computers and send files with documents to clients every day. It was a group of people who sent hundreds of papers to their clients and subcontractors form their e-mail accounts on every-day basis. Because of editing the same e-mails, they often had problems with finding the sent or received documents. However, the survey aimed to study a different indicator. It turns out that 92% of white collar workers, regardless of their workplace (private or government sector) has contact with documents sent by paper or electronic means on every-day basis.

The same survey showed that 83% of employees have problems with versions of saved documents. The point is that if employee X introduces changes to a file and forwards it and not all recipients read their message, they will still work on the old version.

M-Files ECM Report states that specialist lose about 18 minutes at work searching for proper documents and spend 50% of their working time to create unnecessary versions of documents.

Digitalisation seems to be a solution

Reading manuals about the Lean methodology, one can sometimes find examples of companies which stopped squandering funds using this methodology. An American enterprise, thanks to changes introduced in the flow and archiving of documents, saved about 40 hours of work of the unit dealing with document sorting weekly. All that thanks to bringing about a situation in which documents were not separated and then delivered to employees in the building, but just scanned and placed in a cloud and then appropriate departments were given information which documents appeared and to whom they are directed. On top of all that, the entire regime had a clear naming system based on colours, categories and numbers.

More and more companies are thinking about digitalisation. It is so as it gives an option to update documents, describe them easily and assign access to appropriate people. This is why when deciding to install CRM solutions in a company, it is worth choosing ones which allow easy management of electronic documents and automatically update the version after its change. Therefore, every interested employee will have access to the most recent ones.

Digital signatures and PDF editing

Digital signatures are a solution which facilitates work with documents. 45% of companies state that processing of a signature in an agreement or other document takes more or less a week. This is because it has to go through all levels in a company. This results in a loss of PLN 100 on each of them. However, this time is reduced by 80% if we eliminate paper and pen from the entire process. The digital signature is the solution here.

Another issue is the editing of digital documents. It seems that PDF has become a format which is already common enough for its editing not to pose a problem in any company. This kind of thinking is unfortunately wrong. 75% of large companies do not have software which allows them to make changes in PDFs. This is a wrong direction of action. PDF document editing, inside the organisation in particular, is practically mandatory. All because a large number of programmes export files to this format. These are often invoices, corrections, agreements, documents requiring comments and suggestions. If they have to be printed or converted to other formats, it is waste of money and time.

Which tools will be helpful?

If we do not have our own CRM, then it is worth using the tools available on the market, which allow a group of employees to easily share documents and add them to tasks. The simplest of them is Google Docs, which perhaps does not grant us all required options, but what is most important, it lets us create documents with different levels of access. Other available solutions are for example IC Project, which allows to assign documents to tasks and employees. However, such solutions may prove insufficient in larger companies. It is worth looking for dedicated tools or subscription tools. In Poland there are a few companies which, for example, allow the service dependent on the number of employees. Nevertheless, it has to be realised that dedicated solutions are not cheap, but they give a plethora of possibilities which are not present in free tools.

Analysis of document flow in a company can bring us many interesting conclusions. It may turn out that procedures and paths are just too complicated or unnecessary. Therefore, we can save not only employees’ time, but also money. It is worth opting for digital distribution of documents to resign from the paper ones where possible and – which is the most important – lead to a situation where a simple archiving system will allow to rapidly and easily find the documents we need.

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