For years, document workflow took the form of physically passing documents from person to person, department to department. All records of a company’s activities were stored on paper hidden in drawers. With the IT revolution, digital documents have emerged instead of paper documents, which are now stored electronically. Technological trends show in which direction to turn to ensure a company’s records are as secure as possible. This article will compare the key factors of traditional and electronic workflows from an entrepreneur’s perspective.
Traditional workflow in a company – advantages and disadvantages
Document management is a very important part of office work. Document workflow is the most basic process in the functioning of companies, it involves the flow of information of all kinds between company departments, such as purchase requests, sales opportunities, invoices, letters, and more. It is unique to each company because there is no universal scheme of information flow that would suit every company.
According to Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, which is characterized by the automation of business processes and the blurring of the lines between technology and reality. As a result, openness to new technologies, including electronic workflow, must be in the strategies of companies that want to stay abreast of the changing realities of the modern market.
The main advantage of traditional document workflow is the power of habit. In the case of changing the structure of the workflow itself, the process of transferring the company’s paper documentation is a familiar activity and does not require specialized implementation, which is associated with costs, as well as the time that employees must devote to learning how to use the new solution. Nevertheless, this is the price of any investment, which, after generating costs, brings real benefits.
The main disadvantage of the traditional document workflow is the time wasted on searching for specific documents. Even if they are digitized, the search time is not much different than searching for a physical document if the system where the document is stored does not include an intelligent archive with an efficient search system. An electronic document archive is a key component of an efficient workflow because it allows for categorization and quick retrieval through the ability to filter the document database using a variety of parameters.
Besides, storing documents in physical form involves the risk of loss through damage or theft. Documents stored in paper form are not adequately protected against unauthorized access, and this means insufficient protection of sensitive data.
Traditional workflow has many disadvantages, generates unnecessary costs, and is often a dangerous solution. This environment creates room for error, while the electronic environment gives you full control over the workflow and archiving, as well as the content of company documentation.
Electronic document workflow in the company – an ideal solution?
Electronic document workflow is such a revolutionary element that it can be called a document management strategy. The process, realized by means of NAVIGATOR, starts with entering a letter into the system. The process of data transcription from the form, which in a standard scheme would take a lot of time, in the electronic document workflow system takes several seconds. It eliminates the risk of mistakes thanks to Data Capture technology which captures and transfers data from the document to the form. This activity is among the routine tasks that, when performed by humans, have the highest risk of error.
One of Gartner’s key trends for 2021 is Hyper Automation or the belief that everything that can be automated should be automated. In the spirit of this strategy, electronic workflow technologies are being developed.
Electronic document workflow in a company implemented with the use of an ERP system has another main advantage. It is fully configurable, thanks to which implementing it involves costs at the beginning of the process, while further changes and adjustments to the system in practice do not generate new costs, and can be carried out with little or no help from the programmer.
Traditional or electronic document workflow – which works better?
Traditional document workflow has its advantages, but electronic document workflow is a much more modern solution. The main factor that may delay the implementation of such a solution is the aversion to new technologies, but companies that want to stay up to date with market progress will see the potential benefits of electronic workflow, whose costs are disproportionately less than the profit.
Implementing an electronic workflow system has more advantages than disadvantages and pays off in the long run. Although the traditional workflow model has its advantages and seems simpler, practice shows that in the long run, electronic workflow proves to be more efficient and effective. Of course, sometimes it is impossible to eliminate the traditional model entirely, and some elements will always be a part of the office routine. Nevertheless, implementing even a part of the electronic workflow functionality is an investment worth considering.
Truly innovative solutions are those that bring benefits to several groups of people at once. Both employees and company owners will benefit from the implementation of electronic document workflow. The first group will feel the difference in increased comfort of work, tidying up of clutter, and elimination of routine from daily tasks. The second group, on the other hand, will observe increased efficiency of teams and reduction of administrative costs and costs resulting from errors and mistakes.