Mortgage applications, insurance claims, tax returns, patient records, grant submissions, contracts - paper documents such as these surround and impact our lives. For many businesses, these documents form the backbone of daily operations, from accepting their submission, to faxing them between different divisions or business partners, to the various methods of their handling and processing. Many of us have observed a continuing evolution away from paper-based business practices and toward digital files stored as unstructured data - information in text or image formats that don't fit neatly in a traditional database. As organizations try to reduce costs, improve process efficiency and establish compliance with various government legislation and industry regulations (e.g. SOX, HIPAA, PIPEDA), digitizing these documents becomes an important first step. Nearly half of businesses/organizations say their basic business processes rely on some manner of paper documents and/or digital unstructured data. The growing amount of documents and unstructured data presents an additional challenge for companies trying to use and analyze this underlying information.
One of the main difficulties when handling physical documents is that none of the computerized tricks and tools for digital information apply. To take advantage of modern data systems, documents must be converted into electronic data. This is generally a quick procedure, with the difference between top performance and poor performance being measured by only a few minutes per page. Once the documents are digitized, they must be managed; unfortunately, digitized documents are often stored in an unstructured format that can be difficult to search.
The value of any piece of data extends beyond the task or purpose to which it is first assigned. Once a mortgage is processed, for example, it becomes part of the organization's entire mortgage business. The individual data point contributes to current and historical trends and patterns for the business/organization. Decision makers can only identify these trends, however, if the data was captured accurately and completely, can be easily discovered, and is compatible with the business intelligence (BI) or analytical tools that are in place. These tools can provide drill-down reporting on performance by division or employee, predictive tools to forecast future business or customer demand and dashboards to present these data points in an easily visualized graphical format.
Since over half of all core business processes involves documents or unstructured data, it stands to reason that this data is intrinsically linked to a large portion of an organization's operational expense. Document-specific costs can be identified in two major areas: in the initial capture phase, and in remediating errors from document processing.
Document capture includes the employee's time to prepare the paper, the price of purchasing and maintaining machines to scan the file, and the software that digitizes, formats, corrects and classifies the resulting image. A document management solution is a large initial investment, but the true test of value is how different methods scale over time.
Error rates and remediation form the second part of the cost equation. Human error is inevitable, and organizations that rely on manual processes usually see more errors. The accumulation of little problems can have a great financial impact on an organization. In a best case scenario, the error is caught and the offending document is corrected and reprocessed, often doubling the cost of processing the entire case. In a worst case scenario, an error could ruin a business deal with a client or customer, lose a sale, result in a bad business decision, or cause an organization to be penalized with fines or non-compliance fees. Due to the range of possible fiscal penalties, it can be difficult to assign hard numbers to error remediation, but the direct link remains: more errors produce more cost.
Organizations with document management systems reported 30% fewer errors than their competitors, and also showed a 12% reduction in errors over the past twelve months. This contributed to their 10% reduction in overall operational expense for document processing in the past year.
The division of data into distinct silos, owned by a different departments or groups, is a major obstacle to data management. In global organizations, silos often use incompatible systems and store data in different languages or formats. Getting information from a different part of the company can be a time-consuming, frustrating, thankless task. Even in smaller organizations, when data is kept apart, visibility into basic operations is reduced, and employee productivity suffers.
There is now a growing trend toward a more open, collaborative approach to data. Data sharing comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and a truly comprehensive collaboration plan often includes everything from instant messaging, presence information, live meetings, streaming video, voice and telephony capabilities, fax and document sharing portals.
Businesses/Organizations with document management solutions were much more likely to have automated at least part of their document processing cycle. About 60% of these organizations automate at least half of their document processing. Eighty percent (80%) of organizations without document management, on the other hand, indicated that their document processing was almost entirely manual. Technologies that automatically capture, share, transmit, or format documents, or eliminate manual elements of the processing cycle, are powerful ways to decrease costs and improve efficiency for businesses/organizations.
Let our team work with you to bring together people, process and technology to transform your business processes into a true Document Management solution.
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