In today’s hyper-competitive business space, finding ways to cut down on waste while improving throughput is a critical component of remaining competitive. As companies continue to adopt lean principles and agile project management methodologies, the battle against revenue leakage has become a focal point of many companies’ goals in 2020.
In this war against waste, a champion has emerged. By 2022, it’s estimated that 60% of business processes will be automated. The ability to automate redundant, mundane tasks is incredibly powerful. McKinsey estimates that up to 49% of current work tasks have automation potential, and Forrester predicts that automation can cut operating costs for companies by up to 90% per year.
But the power of automation isn’t its ability to replace workers. Automation can empower workers by shedding their schedules of redundancy and enabling them to focus on tasks that mentally engage them and flex their critical thinking muscles. Currently, one of the biggest redundant time sinks in the business space is document approval. 49% of employees have difficulty ‘finding’ process forms and documents (hereinafter ‘documents’) in the workplace, while 43% struggle with process forms and document ‘approval’.
Here’s how approval routing and workflow automation can help businesses embrace automation in 2020, and what kind of impact that will have on your bottom line and your workforce at large.
The Problem With Manual Approvals
The document approval ecosystem is broken. We rely on the back-and-forth of critical documents to generate profits and align with policy and compliance goals. But what percentage of time is actually spent approving documents compared to passing them around? The answer is… a lot. Employees waste an average of 28 hours each week on non-productive tasks. When document approval is an ad-hoc process, not only does it delay business processes, create revenue leakage, and create waste, but it opens you up to compliance and auditing issues.
Documents are sources of rich data than enable inter-department workflows and help create business decisions. But they’re also incredibly important policy tools. Your documents are the history of your business interactions, and they house critical data that needs to be stored and analyzed appropriately. When document approval is a manual process, you introduce human error — which can quickly lead to lost documents and approval frictions.
Approval Routing and Workflow Automation
In a nutshell, Document Approval Routing and Workflow Automation facilitates an automated document approval processes. Instead of manually handing off documents, Approval Routing, and Workflow Automation solutions let you automatically route documents through the necessary sources for rapid approval (or non-approval.)
There are some immediate needs when it comes to Approval Routing and Workflow Automation.
ERP Integration: Your Document Approval Routing and Workflows Solutions should have ERP integration. Siloed automated approval software creates data issues in the form of duplication. You want to work from a single source of real-time data that’s constantly refreshed and updated with the latest information. Without ERP integration, documents are duplicated across both systems, and you run the risk of mismatched data and inaccurate data views between systems.
Data-driven: Simply integrating ERP software with an automated document approval solution isn’t going to save you any time. You need to be able to build a hierarchical list of people and/or groups that are part of a particular document process. So, specific financial team members need to be included on a Procure-to-Pay workflow. This workflow should draw data from an ERP system using user-defined rules and add people to the workflow based on conditions or rules that must be met. This automates both the document approval process as well as the establishment of document approval groups to facilitate the approval process. You don’t need HR involved in finance-only document approval. Not only does it introduce risk, but it clogs workflows and drains time. You want your ERP system to feed data into a platform capable of automating both workflow layers and group layers.
Automated Notifications: When people assigned to a workflow generate a document action (e.g., approval, etc.), they should be provided with consistent instructions that help them understand the document approval process and meaning, and everyone else involved in that specific layer of document approval should have the option of receiving an alert telling them that the document has been approved. This speeds up business decisions and lets everyone know that they can take the next step.
Data Feedback: Beyond connecting to an ERP system, your Approval Routing solution should feed document data back into the ERP system to give you a “singe window of truth” for data. Consistent, accurate, real-time data creates consistent, accurate, real-time decisions.
Putting it All Together
Data-driven Approval Routing and Workflow Automation solutions like ISS Group’s iApprove give businesses the agility to automate document approval business processes, helping them reduce waste and cut costs. Documents are a significant source of time friction in the workspace. By bridging the gap between approval and actions, iApprove can help your business cut costs, stay compliant, and reduce document headaches. Are you ready to embrace automation culture and reap the operational benefits of a waste-free document ecosystem? Contact us today.