No matter what kind of business it is, there’s a need for paperwork. Hiring members of the team, submitting tax documents to your accountant, onboarding new clients, etc. all require paperwork.
The challenge is that paperwork can be cumbersome, slow, and difficult to store over extended periods. Pests and rodents make sure of that. What if there was a way to automate paperwork and save countless hours across your entire organization every week. Not only hours, but get back some of the billions lost to paper every year.
To a large extent, there is a way to make this happen. In this guide, you’ll learn what paperwork automation is (and isn’t), its core benefits, and how to use it to your advantage.
What is paperwork automation
Paperwork automation, also known as document automation, is the process of creating, filling, storing paperwork with automated systems.
Sometimes the document generation is done with one system and the filling or storage is done by another system. Irrespective of the intermediate steps, the end result is the same. You and your team don’t have to create repetitive documents themselves.
When you automate paperwork, you can build simple or complex workflows depending on your needs. For example, you can send a form to a client which they fill out and submit. After hitting the submission button, a document is automatically generated using the provided information.
After it’s generated, it’s sent back to the client and various stakeholders for signing. Once signing is complete, it’s sent to your document storage platform where it can be accessed by anyone that needs it.
This is just one of the many ways that paperwork automation can be used to make you more efficient. Let’s look at a few more of the benefits.
Benefits of automating paperwork
The following benefits are just a few of the most obvious. As you begin to use it, you’ll realize it has many tangible and intangible benefits. Not only that, it’s department agnostic meaning it can be used by almost anyone.
Reduced manual errors – One of the biggest issues with manual data entry is errors. Someone spells something incorrectly, copies something into the wrong field, formats incorrectly, and so on. With automated paperwork, most of the data entry is done automatically which provides fewer opportunities for errors to occur.
Not only that, there are few chances for missing fields because of the way data is collected from the end-user. That’s usually through a form instead of needing to find the right placement in a document.
Save significant time – The most effort is put forth in the beginning but then it’s just a matter of clicks. UsefulDocs allows you to take advantage of templates that can be used over and over again. Just share the form with the right person and voila, they can fill it and start the document automation process.
Better experience for customers and clients – As a client or customer, which would you prefer? Having to give someone all of your information over the phone, in an email, or filling out a document yourself, or use a secure form to submit data and review it before the contract or agreement is finalized?
Most people would choose the second option because it’s much more convenient when compared to the other options.
Increased revenue – This is an indirect benefit of automating paperwork but still a tangible plus. Since document generation and the signing time are slashed, you can get across the finish line much faster. This frees you and your sales team up to go after the next prospect in the pipeline.
How to automate paperwork the right way
Let’s look at the necessary steps you’ll need to take if you want to see the benefits of paperwork automation. Keep in mind that every organization is unique and will need to spend varying amounts of effort to start automating documents.
If you know the process will be daunting, it’s important to do it in phases. First, work with the most important or time-consuming documents. Things like compliance, customer onboarding, and employee onboarding are often at the top of the list.
After you’ve automated those processes, move on to other workflows until you’ve completed everything.
Prepare for automation
It may seem like a good idea to just jump right in and start the automation process. It’s exciting, we get it. But, that can lead to many essential areas falling through the cracks. That’s not exciting or interesting.
- Identify key workflows – as mentioned previously, the first step is to identify key paper-based workflows and categorize them based on priority. This is unique to every business so you my want to speak with other people in your organization to understand the impact of these processes on productivity and costs.
- Evaluate how current processes must change – You already have processes in place and, like with any new system, you’re bring about change. Think about how the process itself must adapt and how much disruption that may cause within and outside of your organization. Develop a mitigation plan to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Create a digital filing system
- How will documents be organized – Where do you store your company’s documentation? Who has access, what kind of naming conventions will be used? How do you keep track of different versions of a document? How many subfolders should documents be limited to? These are important considerations but they may change over time so get it done and leave room for changes.
- Start uploading documents – Scan and digitize your most important documents for storage. Depending on how long you’ve been creating paperwork, this can take a day or months. Just get started and continue until you’re finished. There’s no shortcut here.
Integrate the right tools
After you’ve gotten your main documents uploaded, you can then bring out the reusable ones and develop templates for them using tools like UsefulDocs and UsefulSign.
This is one of the major benefits of digitizing your documents ahead of automating paperwork. You can just upload them to the right platform and start slashing your turnaround time.
- Document generation – Create templates so that your clients, new employees, etc. can fill in their information and have a document generated in seconds.
- Electronic signatures – Once a document template has been created from a form, it can be sent off to various stakeholders to review, sign, and download.
Launch, assess, and tweak
Once you’ve done the heavy lifting, it’s time to launch your new and improved processes. Depending on the number of workflows you have, it may be a good idea to do a phased rollout. See how difficult it is for employees, vendors, and clients to get on board.
If they’re having challenges, assess and tweak the issues you observe. New processes are often difficult to master so give it enough time and don’t automatically think about scrapping it. Digital paperwork automation is the future of business – make sure you’re on the cutting edge.
The assessment and tweaking process doesn’t end. You may see new ways to make the most of what you have and save more time and energy in the process.
Automating paperwork is not a silver bullet that makes all your processes efficient overnight. It takes work and an iterative approach. This guide has gone through the benefits of doing it right and giving you the necessary steps to get started.
Now it’s your turn. Start automating your paperwork and unlock the tangible benefits that come with it. Let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to share.