Like new machines, materials, and processes, document management and networking technology are changing the world of manufacturing. What’s a little slower to change is the fear of change itself in a process-intensive world. People don't like to change; especially when those changes involve “how it's always been done”.
But many manufacturing companies are realizing the great time saving and productivity related benefits of business process management (BPM) and automation. According to AIIM’s Process Improvements and Automation 2016 findings those who have taken the document automation leap report:
- A decrease in their review and approval cycles.
- Better routing to and between individuals.
- Fewer errors and exceptions processing.
While many companies “know” they should implement some sort of automated document system, many are still slow to make the move. If you’re on the fence, consider this…
Manufacturing itself revolves around constant innovation to not only make things faster, but make them better than a single person can make themselves. The same be said for document management – an innovation that has revolutionized how companies are storing, sharing, and retrieving documents in a digital world, faster and better than a person chasing down a piece of paper on foot, right?
So how can automation really help speed up the paper-intensive industry of manufacturing?
Easy Sharing of Documents
With an electronic workflow, documents can be stored securely online in the Cloud, making collaboration easier on your teams, especially if they are in different locations within your plant, or across the world. No more stopping the assembly line because you are waiting on an approval.
Faster Processing and Retrieval
Invoices, purchase orders, and time-sensitive business documents can be setup to automatically flow through the appropriate channels for faster approval.
Better Customer Service
Documents can be retrieved with a simple search versus putting a customer on hold while your customer service representatives dig through your dusty old filing cabinets.
Compliance Made Easy & Insurance for Audits (Or God Forbid, a Disaster!)
In manufacturing, compliance and regulation is always top of mind so documents are critical. When documents live in a digital world, they are easy to find, and redundant backups are in place for protection so there are no physical documents to lose.
Electronic documents not only save paper, but create less waste. In many process (and paper) intensive organizations, a document is printed from a computer and signed on paper, only to be scanned back into that very same computer again. With automation, signatures can be electronic, eliminating the need for extra pages.
Quick Return on Investment
According to AIIM, ROI is most often seen in as little as one year (41%), while others report a return in 6 months (17%), and for some, a little longer in 18 months (25%).
In many cases, it is a fear of the unknown, a lack of understanding of ECM that causes many organizations to put off automating manual workflows. But, getting started can be as simple as identifying three things:
- Core steps in a manual process that could be improved
- Where bottlenecks exist in your plant’s document processes
- Areas where your organization struggles with document regulatory compliance
Taking a hard look at these three things from a cross-functional perspective (internal and external stakeholders, and IT leadership alike) can be an easy way to get the gears turning. Don’t let decision paralysis set it – keep the line moving, and your documents moving faster.