Going paperless: how to digitise your business?

Going paperless: how to digitise your business?

In a previous article we looked at how Anne's event planning company evolved to a point where they decided on introducing a CRM system.

Let's stick to their example. In today's post we'll show you how Anne can digitise other areas of her company, beside customer relationship.

A CRM helps Anne and her team throughout the sales process, and later on in managing projects, but not in other operational tasks.

Contracts are still written in Word (or similar editors) and stored on paper. Similarly, at the end of each project, they invoice using a purpose-built billing tool. This is sent to the client and the accounting department by email, or worse, on paper.

There are several issues with this process, which Anne will soon experience.

A typical document management process has many issues
A typical document management process has many issues

First of all, the likelihood of human-made errors is very high. Her colleagues often make mistakes when filling out contract details or simply forget to send the invoice to accounting.

They also waste a lot of time looking up information. When creating an addendum or delivery certificate, they have to look up client data again, and in the case of an invoice, they have to search for sums and payment terms.

According to a PwC study, an average office worker spends only 15% of its time using data, but spends an incredible 50% of time looking for information.

The average office worker spends most of its time looking for information
The average office worker spends most of its time looking for information

But if Anne and her team store all the client data and tasks in the CRM, why can't they store each related document there as well?

Of course, they could just upload the created files to the CRM as PDF documents, but this won't reduce the number of human mistakes, not will it save any time.

To solve these problems, they could use another software, called the Document Management System, or DMS for short.

Most CRM's already have functions that we expect from a document management system, but a DMS which is fully integrated with a CRM has many more useful features.

Anne's company could automate their whole document creation flow. Because the CRM already has all the client data, the DMS could pull these data when creating a contract. They would only need to enter the rest of the data, such as deadlines or warranty terms.

For an invoice, they wouldn't even have to do this much. Since all the data is already available in the database, invoicing could be done with a single click. The software could even automatically send these documents to the client by email.

If Anne wished to pre-approve any document, before it gets sent to the client, the software can send her a notification. Something like "you need to approve 2 documents" for example. Anne can then approve them with a single click, or send them back for correction.

Using these approval mechanisms, the software can ensure that no wrong information gets sent to the clients. It also give Anne an exact overview of the status of each document and statistics about which colleagues make the most mistakes.

Thank to these automations, Anne and her team can greatly reduce the occurrence of errors, and save a lot of time that would be otherwise spent on administrative tasks.

A DMS can save you a lot of time and reduce the occurence of human mistakes
A DMS can save you a lot of time and reduce the occurence of human mistakes

Version control further helps in reducing errors. A document management software keeps track of every version of a document and logs each change. This way, we can see when and who made changes to any document.

Although these are the main advantages of a DMS, there are other aspects that are worth mentioning.

Because a DMS stores all files in the cloud, with a little extra effort, we can turn our company into a fully paperless business.

There's a lot of talk about paperless businesses nowadays, because being environmentally aware is commendatory, but let's be honest, it's also good marketing. But there's financial reasons for going paperless as well.

The same PwC report states that 7.5% of all paper-based documents gets lost or damaged. 3% of the remaining documents gets misfiled.

Finding a misfiled document costs $120, while recreating a lost document costs $220. It doesn't take a scientist to calculate that we can make huge savings by ditching paper. And these costs don't even include the price of ink or paper, or the sizeable storage costs.

It's easy to calculate how much paper-based document management cost you in the long run
It's easy to calculate how much paper-based document management cost you in the long run

Of course, if this is the only aspect we're interested in, we can get by using Office 365 or Google Drive.

But if we'd like to take advantage of the other benefits of a DMS, like the automated document generation or approval mechanisms, than it's worth you while to look for a DMS system that is available to you. Try to look for one which is integrated with you CMS or other software.

If you're interested in implementing a DMS system, or you'd like to integrate it with your existing software infrastructure, get in contact with one of the Further team and we'll help you find the right solution.