With an increasing volume of documents to manage and the need for real-time collaboration, businesses are searching for solutions to streamline these processes, reduce errors, and boost productivity.
Document workflow automation emerges as a pivotal tool in this scenario, transforming how organizations handle their documents from creation to archival.
This comprehensive guide will provide insights into the transformative power of automating document workflows. We'll look into the intricacies of document workflow automation, its benefits, and how you can harness its potential for optimal results.
What is document workflow automation?
Document workflow automation refers to using technology to streamline and automate the movement of documents within a business. It encapsulates the digitization of paper documents and managing digital document processes.
Document workflow automation includes:
- Creating new documents
- Duplicating existing documents
- Document template creation and management
- Editing, formatting, and revising documents
- Document version management and retrieval
- Approving changes to documents
- File sharing with internal and external stakeholders
- Uploading and downloading documents
- Printing documents
- Signing documents
- Document encryption and password management
- Archiving documents with the option to restore them if necessary
- Deleting documents permanently following data privacy compliance measures
Document workflow automation eliminates the need for routine tasks and repetitive processes, allowing employees to focus on more high-value tasks.
Using automation, businesses can efficiently manage their document-centric workflows, from document creation and approval processes to document version control and security. Employees can easily and securely access and route documents using electronic signatures and mobile devices.
Automation tools often have powerful features such as a drag-and-drop interface, visual representations of your workflows, and integration with document management systems like Google Drive.
Feathery is a powerful form and document automation platform that integrates with all major file systems, including Google Drive, Dropbox, AWS, and SFTP. This lets you automatically fill and generate digital documents using bespoke forms embedded on your website.
Implementing a document workflow management system not only improves efficiency but also enhances team productivity and ensures compliance with company policies.
With the help of intelligent document workflow automation, businesses can significantly reduce the time and effort required to manage and process a wide variety of business documents, ultimately resulting in improved workflow efficiency and cost savings.
What are the benefits of using document workflow automation?
Businesses can unlock significant advantages by automating tasks such as document generation, error reduction, collaboration, version control, and data security.
Let's look at some of the core benefits.
Reduced manual effort
Tasks previously performed manually, such as data entry and document routing, can now be automated.
This saves employees valuable time and reduces the risk of human error.
Document workflow automation streamlines operations and improves accuracy and data integrity.
One of the key benefits of document workflow automation is improved productivity.
With automated processes in place, employees can focus on high-value tasks instead of spending time on repetitive and manual tasks. This increases efficiency and allows businesses to accomplish more in less time.
Optimized operational efficiency
Automation optimizes operational efficiency by ensuring smooth and consistent workflows.
Want to get rid of business process bottlenecks? Automating your document workflows eliminates delays commonly associated with manual processes. This leads to faster turnaround times and improved customer satisfaction.
Businesses can also benefit from cost savings by reducing the need for physical storage and manual document handling.
When employees spend less time on manual document management, it saves costs. They can then focus on tasks that require human input, such as research and personally connecting with customers.
Which document workflows should you automate?
One of the main pain points in any business is the burden of repetitive tasks that consume valuable time and resources. Document workflow automation offers a solution to free up employees to focus on more strategic work.
Repetitive, manual tasks that can be automated:
- Data entry
- Document creation
- Document layout and formatting
- Filling out form fields
- Document approvals and routing
- Creating and populating tasks in Asana
- Creating and populating your customer relationship management (CRM) platform
- Reminders to sign and submit documents
In a fast-paced business environment, relying on manual processes can hinder growth and success. Manual processes are time-consuming and prone to errors, delays, and inconsistencies.
Checking and correcting errors steals further valuable time that could've been spent on other urgent tasks.
Document workflow automation provides a seamless and efficient alternative by digitizing and automating manual processes. It also enhances document security by reducing the risk of unauthorized access or loss, ensuring that critical documents are protected throughout their lifecycle.
1. Generating PDFs from form submissions
Often, businesses need to convert information collected from digital forms into PDF format for record-keeping, sharing, or compliance purposes. Automating this process ensures that as soon as a form is submitted, a well-formatted PDF is generated and routed to the appropriate stakeholders or archived as necessary.
Electronic documents can be easily created using form templates, including contracts, invoices, purchase orders, proposals, and reports. Customizable templates can be tailored to specific industries or organizational needs, ensuring consistency and efficiency in document creation.
Templates provide a standardized format for document drafting and customization, saving time and effort. Team members and clients can quickly create documents by simply filling out the necessary information, eliminating the need to start from scratch.
2. Filling out fillable PDFs from form submissions
This process involves taking information submitted through digital forms and automatically populating it into fillable PDFs. It's particularly useful for contracts, applications, and any other documents that require standardized information.
This automation saves time, reduces human error, and ensures consistency across documents.
3. Populating spreadsheets from form submissions
For data analysis, financial tracking, or inventory management, automating the transfer of data from form submissions into spreadsheets is incredibly useful. This allows for real-time data updates, easier tracking, and the ability to quickly generate reports or insights from the collected data.
4. Converting PDFs and spreadsheets into online forms
In some cases, existing data in PDFs or spreadsheets needs to be converted back into digital forms for further updates or additional data collection. Automating this conversion process streamlines the workflow, allowing for seamless updates and ensuring that data remains current and accessible.
5. Payment processing
Time-consuming processes can be a significant hindrance to business efficiency and productivity. These are often complex multi-step workflows, such as invoicing and payment processes.
Without an automated system in place, these crucial tasks can lead to inefficiencies and a loss of productivity.
Delays can occur throughout the document workflow, causing further hindrances to business operations. For instance, payment approval processes can stagnate if documents are not efficiently routed to the appropriate individuals.
The movement of documents within and between departments can also be slowed down by manual processes, leading to delays in decision-making and business transactions.
By implementing document workflow automation, businesses can overcome these challenges. Automation tools offer powerful features such as automatically filling out account details, adding digital signatures, password management, and integrated payment gateways.
This enables quick and efficient documentation, reduces errors, and ensures the timely completion of tasks.
6. Personal data entry
Ultimately, some processes must be done manually, such as personal data entry. This can often lead to errors and mistakes that significantly impact efficiency, accuracy, and compliance.
Some errors can't be corrected later, so it's crucial to get the correct information the first time.
Mistakes can occur at various stages of your document management process. One of the most common errors is incorrect data entry. Using document automation, you can set up data entry rules and criteria that check for mistakes and display error messages to guide the user.
When managing sensitive documents, document workflow automation can play a crucial role. Security measures are paramount to protect these documents from unauthorized access and potential threats. Encryption and access control are key components of a secure document management system.
Sensitive documents managed using document workflow software include:
- Confidential contracts
- Financial statements
- Medical records
- Legal documents
- Customer information
Another common mistake is the misplacement or loss of documents. Without a centralized system to track and organize documents, important files can be misplaced and difficult to trace. This leads to delays in accessing critical information, resulting in inefficient processes and missed deadlines.
Consider also a lack of version control. Manual processes make it difficult to keep track of document versions, leading to confusion and the possibility of working with outdated or incorrect information. This can result in errors in decision-making and a lack of consistency in business operations.
The manual routing of documents can be slow and prone to human error, resulting in delays and bottlenecks in approval workflows. This can impact the speed and efficiency of business operations, leading to missed opportunities or unhappy customers.
In terms of compliance, manual processes pose risks of non-compliance with regulations and company policies. Documents can be mishandled, unauthorized individuals can access sensitive information, and proper record-keeping can be compromised. This can result in legal issues, reputational damage, and financial penalties.
Implementing document workflow automation can help you solve these issues by catching and correcting errors before they're submitted.
7. Document signing and approvals
One of the most common business tasks is signing contracts. You may need to sign and manage hundreds of documents yearly, which can get messy.
But routing documents for signatures or approvals can be a simple and efficient process. Using document workflow tools, you can ensure the timely and accurate processing of documents with the correct permission settings.
Automating document approval workflows can save your business hours of time and ensure your file system is your single source of truth.
Follow the steps below to route documents for signatures and (or) approvals efficiently using workflow automation tools.
Identify the document
Determine the type of document that requires a signature and (or) approval. This includes contracts, agreements, invoices, or any other critical business document.
Assign individuals or departments
Determine the appropriate individuals or departments that need to review and approve the document. Assign them in the document workflow automation system, ensuring each person has the necessary permissions and access to the document.
Apply business rules
Define the rules governing the routing process. This can include setting up sequential or parallel routing, specifying time limits for each step, and establishing notification triggers for overdue actions.
Incorporate electronic signature capabilities into the workflow. This allows authorized individuals to sign the document digitally, ensuring a legal and binding signature. When setting up the workflow, configure the system to enable eSignature collection at the appropriate steps.
Comply with legal requirements
Ensure that the document workflow automation system meets all legal requirements for eSignatures. The system should support secure authentication methods. It should also provide an audit trail for signature activities and comply with relevant laws and regulations, such as the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act or the European Union's eIDAS Regulation.
6. Creating, updating, and versioning electronic documents
Version control plays a crucial role in maintaining an accurate record of document revisions. It tracks changes made to a document, allowing users to see the history of modifications and revert to previous versions if necessary.
It ensures everyone involved in the document workflow works with the latest version. This brings about greater clarity and improves collaboration.
By automating the process of creating, updating, and versioning electronic documents, document workflow automation enhances productivity, accuracy, and efficiency while reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies.
It empowers your business to streamline your document management processes.
Mobile devices in document management workflows
Mobile devices play a crucial role in modern document management workflows, offering enhanced efficiency and accessibility for users. With the rise of smartphones and tablets, individuals can easily create, modify, and access documents on the go, regardless of location or time constraints.
Users can access their documents directly from their mobile devices. Mobile devices allow for seamless integration with electronic document management systems.
This integration saves time and effort and ensures that individuals have real-time access to the latest versions of documents, enabling them to make timely decisions and collaborate effectively.
The benefits of using mobile devices in document workflows are numerous. First and foremost, mobile devices increase productivity by reducing downtime associated with waiting until individuals are in front of a computer to work on documents.
They enable users to complete tasks on the go, maximizing efficiency and minimizing delays.
Real-time collaboration is another significant advantage of incorporating mobile devices into document workflows. Teams can work together in real-time, edit documents simultaneously, and provide immediate feedback.
Using mobile devices in document workflows improves customer satisfaction. Organizations can respond quickly to customer inquiries and deliver real-time updates, increasing customer trust and loyalty.
Harnessing automation: The future of document management
Document workflow automation is a transformative solution that significantly enhances the efficiency, productivity, and security of document management processes. By streamlining tasks such as document creation, version control, signing, and routing, businesses can achieve operational excellence.
For product managers, this means an opportunity to eliminate bottlenecks, ensure compliance, and foster seamless collaboration across teams.
Integrating mobile devices into the workflow further improves flexibility and real-time access to crucial documents, ensuring timely decision-making and enhanced customer experiences.
Incorporating a platform like Feathery allows you to automatically fill and generate PDFs, spreadsheets, and Word documents while seamlessly integrating with file platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox and Box, SFTP, and AWS. Feathery offers a streamlined approach to automating your document workflows. You'll enjoy the user-friendly interface featuring highly customizable documents, forms, logic, and powerful integrations. You can also create and edit your document workflows using code.
Are you ready to level up your document workflows and compliance? Try Feathery for free.