Blog Post

Ready to Go Digital? Digitize These Paper-based Processes First

June 10, 2020

For many organizations, the quick operational pivots necessary to adapt to the fallout of COVID-19 kicked off or propelled digital transformation. Once stalled by lack of executive support, resources, and funding, it has become a crystal-clear priority— now considered essential to business continuity in the new, largely work-from-home, world.

Digitize These Paper-based Processes First

The move toward digital transformation is not new. In fact, 70 percent of respondents to a Tech Pro research study said their organizations either had a digital transformation strategy in place or were working on one. The disruptive effects of COVID-19, however, sped up the process—and the necessary funding.

Now, in a world affected by COVID-19, going digital is quite simply a matter of survival. The question then becomes, “Which paper-based processes should be digitized first?”

Digitization as the Antidote for Disruptive Change and Remote Workforces

The uncertainty of our new reality will demand government agencies and private businesses quickly adapt to constant change. It will require easy and uninterrupted remote access to the content that drives business processes. Digitization makes that possible.

Digitize These Paper-based Processes First

Paper content and processes are expensive, inefficient, and security risks even when staff is on-site to access it. In all circumstances, and especially in remote work environments, paper stalls progress. It also means time-consuming and often frustrating experiences for staff and constituents or clients.

Digital content and paperless processes are more customer-centric, driving better experiences and ultimately, revenue growth. They also can drive down or even completely eliminate many operational costs while increasing productivity, efficiency and security.

Start Smart: Successful Digital Transformation Takes a Measured Approach

A sound digital transformation is comprehensive. It includes a document disaster recovery plan and a future-proof strategy. When well-designed, it is also a holistic approach that extends beyond turning paper content to digital and includes a strategy for all paper-based processes.

These processes are at the core of how a business works. They include technology solutions and systems coming together to ensure content and workflows are coordinated, organized, structured, secure, and accessible. One such solution is a content services platform that helps digitize, store, share, and access content through the cloud.

According to IDC, worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies and services is forecasted to reach $1.97 trillion in 2022. But determining where and how to make these valuable investments is critical.

Starting with a strategic approach to considering your business processes builds the necessary foundation for the long-term success of a digital transformation.

Consider Effort vs. Impact

Through our experience helping hundreds of organizations, we’ve found the most effective way to answer the question of where to start is by using an impact effort matrix as a tool. This is a process that assesses the level of effort required and the potential impact or benefits.

The result is a visual representation of where to best assign time, budget, and resources to digitizing your paper-based processes. Each of the potential processes falls into one of four categories:

  • Quick Wins: The clearest return on effort.
  • Major/ Foundational Projects: Long-term return but may be complex and time- and resource-consuming to execute.
  • Fill-ins: Don’t require significant effort nor benefit.
  • Time Wasters: Time-consuming efforts with little benefit that should be avoided.

An impact effort analysis helps you quickly identify which processes to tackle first, as well as the ones you should ignore. Here’s how you develop your impact effort matrix:

  • Level of Effort (Horizontal Axis) Determine and plot how much time, money, resources, and capacity will be needed to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Level of Impact (Vertical Axis) Ask and indicate how much value or impact the outcomes will have on business.
Digitize These Paper-based Processes First | Impact Effort Matrix

The result is a simple 2×2 matrix, with each paper-based process you are considering digitizing categorized into one of four quadrants for an easy-to-assess representation of your priorities in four categories.

By focusing your effort on a healthy distribution of Quick Wins and Major/Foundational processes, you set your overall digital transformation up for success.

We’ve found this exercise is a great alignment exercise to do with stakeholders. Empowering everyone to participate in assigning value to the priority processes and choosing their positions on the matrix creates immediate support. This also provides the opportunity to debate the placement if someone has a differing perspective, generating long-term stakeholder buy-in for the overall initiative early in the effort. Remember to consider efficiencies, cost savings, and your ability to serve constituents and clients when choosing the processes to digitize first.

Digitize These Paper-based Processes First

The paper-based processes we’ve seen deliver the greatest benefit to organizations when digitized involve high-value content assets, sensitive and confidential information, and files heavily used by staff, constituents or clients. These processes often include:

  • Applications and payment-based processing: The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) reduced its benefits eligibility processing to a single day by going digital, improving accuracy, efficiency, and service delivery.
  • Human resources processes, including payroll, employment agreements, and new employee onboarding: Paper files and manual processes overwhelmed a full-time staff in the Personnel and Human Resource Management Department at Florida’s Department of Health (DOH) until it digitized its processes and improved service and processing times.
  • Health records: When the HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Section-Surveillance at the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Communicable Diseases eliminated paper and manual processes, it increased accuracy, privacy, and efficiency while saving money and freeing up resources.
  • High-security transactions: By digitizing its high-security records process, Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) saved time and money while improving security for confidential records.

Accounts payable processing, grant applications, and vendor contract management may also deliver the right combination of effort and impact and may be where to start your digital transformation.

Choosing the Right Partner to Guide Your Digital Transformation

A key decision in your digital transformation process is whether to manage it internally or bring on the expertise of a partner. Base your decision on factors such as internal resources, budget, timeline, goals, and size of the project. Most organizations lack the equipment, software, and staff expertise to execute a major digitization project. Expert vendors provide digitizing services, technical advice, and sometimes even long-term maintenance and support.

If you’re ready to start or continue your digital transformation and maintain business continuity regardless of what the future holds, we’d love to share our experience with you. We can help you identify how and where to start, or apply our technology or business services to speed up a successful transition.

Our Guide to Going Digital is a helpful source. It helps break down how to plan, prioritize, and choose a partner, including a bonus checklist to stay on track.

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