Digital Voucher Process: Eliminate Paper and Increase Accessibility (+Q&As from Florida’s Department of Health)
Manual paper-based processes are slow and hinder your ability to get more done. Paper-related waste including printing, copying, and shredding is costly. Beyond wastefulness, paper is risky. It’s easy for paper that’s physically moving around the organization to get misplaced. It deteriorates over time and is at risk of damage or loss when it comes to disasters such as hurricanes, flooding or fires. It’s difficult to protect sensitive information that is contained within paper. Then there is the issue with storing the paper – it’s bulky and takes up space fast!
Why Going Digital Makes Sense
When considering the problems associated with paper, going digital just makes sense. With digital content stored in the cloud, you have fast access to your information no matter where you are. You also have better security to protect your content and with the right content services platform, you have more accessibility and better control. It takes up less space and cannot be destroyed by a hurricane! Digital content also enables digital process automation, which provides even more benefits to your organization.
So we know that digital makes sense, but how exactly does this benefit your voucher process? And what does a digital voucher process look like in practice?
Benefits of a Digital Voucher Process:
Here’s why we strongly recommend digitizing your voucher process:
- Eliminate costs – with a digital process you no longer need to print vouchers or backup documentation
- Save time – you’re able to automate the voucher creation process, streamline your distribution process and provide fast, easy access to your auditors
- Avoid loss – all voucher files are securely stored in the cloud so there’s no risk of misplacing or losing a voucher packet
- Reduce risk by bringing all documentation into one secure online location with access controls and a reliable audit trail so you’re always prepared
Case Study: How Digital Voucher Process Saves Processing Time for Florida’s Department of Health
For the Florida Department of Health (DOH), the benefits of a digitized voucher process include improved efficiencies in processing and distributing information, as well as greater data security, a reliable audit trail, and an easy retention plan.
We spoke with our VP of Client Success, Loree Evans, who partnered with the Florida DOH to implement a digitized voucher process. Our discussion reveals the specific voucher processing issues the agency was experiencing, the plan of action to correct the issues, and the impact of the streamlined and digitized voucher process.
The Florida DOH’s Paper-Based Voucher Process
Each morning, an assigned DOH staff member would access the state accounting system (FLAIR) to generate a file containing the previous day’s vouchers. They were also responsible for printing all voucher schedules. Once printed, the paper vouchers were manually distributed among various auditors. The auditors then matched the paper voucher with the paper backup documentation. Once matched, these packets of paper were collected to be scanned, named with the statewide Document Number and stored on a hard drive. After the paper voucher and supporting documents were stored on the hard drive, the paper files were then discarded.
This paper-based system had several possible points of failure that necessitated manual processes to track and monitor.
- The physical print process was time-consuming and required monitoring and confirmation to ensure all vouchers printed
- The physical distribution process involved manually transferring vouchers to dozens of staff, which often resulted in misplaced documentation
- Staff needed to consult a report to ensure they received only their vouchers, and all of the vouchers assigned to them
- The processes of redistributing work when a staff member was out of the office and correcting distribution errors were time consuming and inefficient
Assembling the Voucher Packets for Scanning
- The assembly process was repetitive and wasteful as it often involved printing supporting documentation so it could be assembled for scanning
Scanning the Voucher Packets
- The scanning process required staff to manually enter the file name for each voucher, then perform QA on this process as the file name was the only method of retrieval
Risk, Frustration, and More: The Business Problem
Q: What business problems did the DOH face with their paper voucher process?
A: DOH had the vision to move their voucher processing from paper to digital. They worked with a vendor to customize & configure a system that led to two significant issues.
The first was a production system that didn’t function as advertised. DOH had issues importing vouchers to the system, retrieving the digital images, assigning work to the staff, and matching the vouchers to their supporting documentation.
Additionally, they had data loss issues. Chronic load and system errors led to a nine month project to ensure every voucher that should have been in the system existed in a repository outside the system. This effort involved using many of the paper-based processes they had worked so hard to eliminate, and was performed in addition to their daily processing responsibilities.
In order to eliminate their failing system and move to an efficient day-forward process, the DOH needed to quickly implement a solution that would properly support their requirements for a digital voucher process.
Q: How were these issue impacting their business?
A: Functional and data issues caused a lack of confidence in the system. The Department responded by adding manual processes to confirm all work was being performed accurately. This additional workload increased processing times, risk, and put pressure on requirements to respond to audit requests.
A Tailored Solution for Digital Vouchers
Q: How did the DOH solve the problem?
A: The DOH has be a long time partner with Image API, when they reached out, we were happy to help. The solution we came up with was a combination of two of our products: Axiom Pro + Print Plus.
Axiom Pro provides the ability to store digital files in one location so residing teams across the state can access their vouchers quickly and accurately. Staff members can easily see their daily workload and process the vouchers quickly. Management and Administrative users have a view of all vouches and their processing status. The system supports role-based security, so each user’s views are tailored to match the Department’s policies.
Print Plus supports the daily voucher load and automates the process creating time savings and efficacy. It is a service that accepts the state’s mainframe generated voucher file as input, extracts key identifying information from the file, renders each voucher in the file as a PDF, loads each PDF to Axiom Pro, and indexes it with key identifying information.
The Improved Florida DOH Voucher Process with ImageAPI
Each morning, an assigned staff member accesses the state accounting system to generate a file containing the previous day’s vouchers. DOH staff simply post the daily file to an SFTP site, where Print Plus accepts the file for processing. That’s when the automation begins!
- Print Plus extracts needed information from the FLAIR file to produce a standard voucher template. This includes:
- Statewide Document Number
- Voucher #
- Voucher Date
- Grouping Character
- Site ID
- Print Plus incorporates a DOH signature on each voucher
- Print Plus presents all voucher files for automatic upload into Axiom Pro
DOH staff is then able to access and process the vouchers online. Once the voucher packet is complete, it’s stored in Axiom Pro for easy, anytime, anywhere controlled access.
Digital Solution Eliminates Weak Spots and Optimizes Processes
The Axiom Pro + Print Plus solution addressed and eliminated every possible point of failure of the manual system:
Voucher Printing – ELIMINATED
- Vouchers load automatically with an audit trail to ensure every document is loaded
Voucher Distribution – OPTIMIZED
- Supported via search in Axiom Pro, staff now have the ability to search on any combination of index elements to easily identify their work each day
- Work reassignment is now fast and simple because all vouchers are digital and accessible via a secure web-based application
Assembling the voucher packets for scanning – ELIMINATED
- All work is performed with digital documents, so printing the backup documentation is no longer necessary
Scanning the voucher packets – ELIMINATED
- Printing, preparing, scanning and naming voucher files is no longer needed, all documents are now digital
Q: How was Image API uniquely able to partner with the DOH to solve the problem?
A: Our years of helping organizations solve tough paper problems and enhance processes through digital process automation provided us with the knowledge and insight to thoroughly understand DOH’s current process and problem areas.
This experience and knowledge gave us the ability to quickly configure Axiom Pro and pair it with Print Plus, to create the digital voucher documents and load them to Axiom Pro. Our solution addresses the problems they were having and enhances their overall process for processing vouchers efficiently and timely.
The Perfect Fit: Results of a Digital Voucher Solution
Q: Did the new solution solve the problem and/or accomplish the objective(s)?
A: Yes! Within six months we were able to help the DOH transition from the previous vendor’s system, load existing vouchers to the system and provide them with a completely digital voucher process. They were able to centralize everything in one location, save time when processing disbursements, create 100% visibility and stay prepared for audits.
Q: What immediate impacts were experienced as a result of the new digital solution?
A: Consistency and reliability: Staff are now confident they have a system that functions as advertised, every day. Voucher processing work is time sensitive and with Image API’s solution, vouchers are loaded into AxiomPro accurately and early in the day so staff can focus on their daily work. As a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering, Axiom Pro provides the DOH with continuous innovation and improvements without the disruption and costs of traditional software installations and maintenance updates.
Accessibility and security: DOH has the ability to grant access to view the voucher online, with increased security and access control for specific users, eliminating the need to receive and process requests in the Central Office.
Q: Are there long-term impacts that will create value in the future for the client?
A: Yes. The voucher process is the last step in a process that includes (at a high level) procurement, contracting, invoicing, and payment. Proving the concept of a paper to digital solution paves the way to expand the system to support similar processes in the Department.
Q: What result is considered to be the most important?
A: Complete, accurate, and always accessible documentation in a centralized location is providing much-needed peace of mind to DOH employees who had to deal with a frustrating process prior to our involvement.
Finding a Digital Partner for Your Agency’s Voucher Process
We have been helping government agencies digitize their paper-based and often complicated processes for over 25 years. We are intimately familiar with state and local government regulatory compliance, security protocols, and more recently, the need for remote workforces and service delivery.
We’ve helped many agencies streamline their voucher process and would love to help you too! Click here to learn more and request a complimentary consultation to review your specific voucher process.