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Death by Paper Cut: How Old Processes Are Killing Your Productivity

According to a recent Gallup poll, employee engagement is at its highest level in decades: 34 percent say they’re “enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” And while CTOs and CEOs can take some comfort that better engagement means improved productivity, the numbers beg an obvious question: What about the other 66 percent?

document management

The People Problem

Millennials now rule the roost, and 61 million members of Generation Z are about to enter the workforce. The result? Companies need to account for changing preferences around workspace design, collaboration, and creativity.

As noted by Forbes, 47 percent of staff say workspace design impacts their productivity, and 42 percent say it impacts the quality of their work. The combined challenge of workforce and workplace shifts makes it easy to pin the blame for productivity on employees. Maybe they just aren’t getting what they need, or maybe they’ll never be satisfied. The hard truth?

Outdated processes — not evolving employee expectations — are the likely cause of productivity problems. In fact, recent data suggests that poor document management processes force staff to spend over four hours per week searching for documents they can’t find or recreating these documents because they’ve disappeared. Put simply? You don’t have a people problem — you’ve got a process problem.


The Process Problem

So what’s wrong with your process, and how can you fix it without breaking the bank?
First, organizations need to recognize that it’s not a single process that’s killing productivity. Instead, it’s a combination of multiple, outdated practices that conspire to lower employee efficacy. Here, document management is the biggest culprit, especially for businesses making the transition from paper record-keeping to digital storage as they face increasing compliance and audit demands.

Even companies leveraging optical character recognition (OCR) and image editing solutions to convert old file formats and historical documents often find themselves employing legacy processes such as manually printing and reviewing documents, hand-delivering them around the office, or digitally emailing documents around for edits.

On the digital side, many enterprises struggle with the volume, variety and velocity of “big data” entering corporate networks. As noted by Tech Target, even as data storage costs drop companies struggle to determine what they should keep, how they should protect it and who needs access permissions. The result is a kind of fragmented access framework that drives digital document sprawl. Other bad habits include:

  • Users often crowd their desktop devices with files they may need someday. The result? They can’t find what they need, when they need it — and may end up creating a duplicate document instead.
  • File and document downloads are commonplace. Not so common? Regularly sorting this folder to delete what isn’t necessary. Problems happen when staff need to find previously-saved attachments or files but don’t have the time to fight their way through months of accumulated data — so they download the file again.
  • Finished documents are due tomorrow, but your company doesn’t have a document collaboration tool that lets staff easily compare and edit multiple file types. The solution? Print multiple copies of everything, review them all manually, and reach a consensus. The issue? Sorting through the mountain of mark-ups that result.
  • Corporate email accounts often limit file size, forcing staff to use external file sharing options. Beyond potential security issues, these workarounds make it almost impossible to track document versions.

Taken individually, these processes aren’t problematic. Compiled at scale across an organization, however, companies are bleeding money.


The Document Management Advantage

Third-party workstream collaboration tools are one option to bandage this wound but often create more problems than they solve by forcing employees to operate outside their normal workflow environment. The better, budget-friendly option?

Build document editing capabilities and tools for OCR, forms processing, compression, and barcode into currently-used applications. You can also automate document management with tools that streamline the process of sorting through big data by making it easy for staff to find what they’re looking for, make required edits, and share it with colleagues.

In the same way organizations now look to improve their physical spaces to enhance employee productivity and engage more end-users, CEOs and CTOs must recognize the value of enhancing in-use digital solutions to empower staff collaboration, reduce wasted time and improve company-wide document management.