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Simplification and standardization – throwing away the paper

April 9, 2020

In my previous post in this series, I described how important it is to simplify and standardize as much as possible before embarking on digital transformation.

One of the main ways in which organizations can declutter is, of course, to go as paperless as possible. Paper not only takes up time and space: it also costs money. I know of a company that sends 300,000 paper documents by post every year. Yes, indeed: every year. Reducing that volume by 80% wouldn’t just streamline processes: it would also save that business something like £300,000 per annum.

Keeping hard copies may be necessary in some instances and in some places. In most of Asia, for example, it’s legally required. However, most of the time, it’s not necessary at all, and even where a tangible record does need to be kept – of a transaction, for example – it could be in the form of a PDF.

Of course, paper, itself, is not the only cause of bureaucracy. The information it carries could exist in electronic form and still be cumbersome and messy. But the act of removing paper from the equation can force enterprises to think about how best to reorganize that data and standardize the data input of their processes. This means the chances of mess and cumbersomeness will, with luck, decrease – and instead, the possibility of consistency of format can grow.

As I suggested in my previous post, standardization makes it much easier to automate a process, and that, in turn, means employees can be relieved of monotonous paper-pushing, and focus instead on more interesting exceptions and special cases.

Cognitive document processing

One of the best routes to such reorganization comes in the form of cognitive document processing (CDP). CDP can automate the ingestion, organization, and evaluation of documents rapidly, securely and at reduced cost. End-to-end solutions that bring together machine learning and artificial intelligence with highly optimized business processes are increasingly available. Such solutions receive, prioritize, and classify information, before extracting and validating the key elements upon which the related automation routines act in order to complete their processes.

The difference such changes make can be significant. For example, a consumer goods manufacturer has been using digital workflows to improve customer experience with user-friendly electronic forms, capturing approvals electronically, and automating actions across multiple systems.

Electronic documentation has also helped a global drinks manufacturer. Using robotic process automation (RPA), the company is identifying and managing duplicate invoices, reducing confusion in the process, and ensuring suppliers get paid on time and in full.

If you’d like to find out more about the sensible groundwork that organizations can conduct in preparation for major digital projects, take a look at my contribution to the TechnoVision report.

Want to know the simplest ways to create a digital transformation in 2020? Download the TechnoVision 2020 report to help you through the process.

Read other blogs in this series :

Elle Sanchez Cardenas creates target operating models for finance and accounting with an automation first focus to improve transaction cycles, reduce manual effort, and increase capacity within teams. She also designs end to end transformations from process and policy enhancements to touchless processing.