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Automate your busywork to improve productivity 

by ​​Mike Melloy
 

The concept of business process automation has long been seen as a luxury reserved primarily for large enterprises.

The logic makes sense: the larger the business, the more repeated “processes” it deals with on a daily basis. More employee paperwork, more billing transactions, more email notifications, more everything.

Traditional business process management solutions—BPM if you prefer corporate jargon—are often thought to be quite expensive and complex. You may have heard of massive centralized systems, deployed by an army of IT staff and consultants, which can only be justified in large enterprises with enough revenue to reap the benefits of increased efficiency down the line.

But like so many other things, the steady advance of technology has leveled the playing field when it comes to process automation. Smaller organizations can now pick and choose areas of their business to automate without an exorbitant upfront investment. The trick is knowing where to start.

By taking a step back and looking at where your employees are spending their time, you’ll often find that a disproportionate amount is dedicated to repeated, even menial tasks. By identifying these workflows within your organization that can be streamlined or automated, you can not only save time and free up your teams to focus on more strategic work, but also reduce human error in the process.


Here are three areas to focus on first:

​Business process automation has long been seen as a luxury reserved primarily for large enterprises. However, the steady advance of technology has leveled the playing field. 

1. Finance and Accounting

A recent study by CFO1 found that the average finance worker spends about 50 percent of their time processing transactions. Half of their day is dedicated to paying bills, approving invoices and managing other related processes. That’s incredibly wasteful no matter how you slice it. It’s also time that could be spent focusing their expertise on ways to grow your business or reduce costs instead of grinding through a stack of accounts receivable paperwork.

Part of the problem is that filling out all of that paperwork is a time-consuming endeavor. Despite this fact, an IDC study2 found that 58 percent of businesses still rely on paper documents for critical business processes. Adopting technologies such as a digitized accounts-payable solution can make this far more efficient, allowing your team to scan invoices directly into the system and sidestep the need for manual entry. 

2. Human Resources

Like finance, HR is a department that spends much of its time mired in inefficient processes at far too many companies. Onboarding, performance appraisals and employee information management are all things that can quickly add up to take over the lion’s share of an HR professional’s available hours.

Using form automation and other tools to streamline these processes frees up HR to focus on their primary responsibility and your most important asset: people. When employee forms and documents can be completed and filed digitally it also saves a significant amount of time for end users dealing with HR (which is your entire workforce). Finally, digitizing these processes makes it easier to keep more secure and easily managed employee records, which can save you from big compliance headaches down the line. 
 

Smaller organizations can now choose areas of their business to automate without an exorbitant upfront investment.

 

3. Document Management

 

While the previous examples focus on specific lines of business, document management is an issue that impacts everyone within an organization. It also may not seem like an area in immediate need of improvement when it comes to workflow. You likely have a way of managing information within your organization that seems perfectly adequate.

The challenge for many companies lies in the fact that their processes for document management often haven’t kept up with the changing ways in which we work. The previously mentioned IDC study found that nearly half of employees spend 50 percent or more of their time working from non-traditional locations. These workers need to be able to access key information from wherever they are, which is easier said than done if it’s sitting in a filing cabinet or an internally networked drive.

 

Implementing a document management solution can ensure that your employees have access to the files they need, when they need them. Technologies like this can also cut down on version control problems and provide an audit trail if something goes awry. Taking control of the way documents move through your organization will ultimately make your business more efficient and secure.

Watch productivity skyrocket 

Automate the processes where your employees are spending the most time and watch the positive impact it has on productivity. 
 
Workflow automation doesn’t require a major investment to get started, and we’re here to help identify where your investment will provide the greatest return.
 
Mike Melloy
Mike Melloy, Director of Ricoh Services Design for Mid Market customers at Ricoh USA, Inc., brings his services and technology experience to businesses ranging from small-to-medium to Fortune 1000. Melloy focuses on services impacting document lifecycle, document workflow, and managed document services. He holds degrees in Business Management Information Systems and Information Technology. 
 
 
1 Driscoll, Mary. "Metric of the Month: How Finance People Spend Their Time." CFO. 4 December 2014. 
2 IDC Infobrief. "Addressing Information Gridlock."Online posting. July 2015.