As much as we try and escape the inevitable use of paper-based processes during business hours, it seems that sometimes there is just no escaping it. Organisations still have to produce physical documents for reporting and invoicing purposes. Or do they?
The 21st Century businessman or woman doesn’t want to carry around a heavy briefcase as they make their way from one meeting to the next. They want everything on their laptop, tablet or mobile device. They want to make every document available electronically. They want a fully integrated electronic system which automates the processes for them.
They don’t want much then?
But there is little difference from the 21st Century needs and demands to those of the businessmen and woman towards the end of the previous century. Over the last 25 years businesses have been through this very process – setting out with the best will in the world to go straight to the utopia of a seamless and automated data system. Price and the evolution of their current IT Systems no doubt play a major part in stalling this process, so they take a step back.
This is where they realise that an intuitive document management and workflow system can be an extremely large step from their current position and in fact can provide a great ROI. An example is EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) in Accounts Payable. Many FD’s drive hard towards this apparently desirable end game of complete data automation only to find the hurdles too high: A lack of supplier cooperation, high costs and effort of implementation and over-formalisation of their business make the goal dissatisfying or unachievable. However, if they simply automate their process using document management and workflow, they can realise 80% of the business benefit for 20% of the cost – all in a matter of weeks.
There will never be any escaping that businesses will use the odd sheet of paper to get things done, but critically there is a new, electronic way to do it. Sure, it would be great to leap to the utopia of data systems – but evolution takes time and the world of business needs to evolve at a pace where it can continue to function successfully.
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