If there is one clear lesson in COVID-19, it’s the power of adapting well to change. Amid crisis, planning becomes an impossible luxury.

Many organizations using heavily paper-based operations—government agencies, human resources departments and legal firms, for example—learned this quickly over the last several weeks. Under intense pressure, they scrambled to digitize the critical content and processes necessary to do business in the remote working environment forced by COVID-19.

That’s why now—even before this pandemic is behind us—public agencies and private organizations alike must consider how the crisis has disrupted the way we work. We must fundamentally change the way we think about the need to be agile and prepared for the future, especially to be able to continue to serve constituents, clients, and consumers. We must get ready now for what’s next.

Without question, agility is more critical than ever to maintaining the business continuity necessary to future-proof your operations. Future-proofing now will prevent the frenzied scramble that disrupted government and private business in the quick transition to remote workforces. Because while this crisis will pass, change will certainly come again. 

Digital: from Helpful to Critical

Until COVID-19 upturned the world, working digitally was universally embraced as a good idea. In fact, according to a 2018 Tech Pro Research survey, 70 percent of companies had a plan for going digital in place or were working on one. But for most organizations, it lacked budget and full buy-in. So when the pandemic hit, not enough organizations—private or public—were far enough along to adapt seamlessly.

When processes are largely paper-based, operating during crisis and uncertainty—and certainly operating efficiently—is nearly impossible. The ability to successfully adapt to unexpected change like fully remote work environments is the key to future-proofing for long-term success. Digitized content and automated workflows make that possible.

Here’s how you build a lasting foundation to get there:

   1. Take Inventory of Your Paper-based Processes

 The transition from paper to digital content and processes takes a holistic approach. Start by evaluating the processes you’ve already adapted to operate in the COVID-19 remote working environment. What has been successful and what should be tweaked, changed or added for increased efficiency and benefit?

 Then, take a step back and document and prioritize all your paper-based processes. Take a complete inventory to classify the paper content you have, making sure to identify processes that right now may be paused due to the remote environment. Once you have your completed list, you’re ready to move to the next step.This requires considering the effects on service delivery, inefficiencies and the potential for cost savings.

   2. Identify Critical Processes to Digitize

Right now, your agency or business may not be fully operational due to limited access to people or paper-based processes. Now is a great time to define what those processes are so that they are the first to be digitized. Ideally, lack of access to files would not inhibit your ability to operate.

To do this, take a look at your inventoried list of paper-related processes, and add some parameters to analyze it. Consider inefficiencies in the processes, the potential for cost-savings, the effects on service delivery, how it affects your clients or constituents, and whether it can be digitized. 

When you have your completed inventory of paper-based processes, it’s time to prioritize which processes to digitize first. Here are some common examples of important processes to digitize right away due to their high business risk when not stored and secured digitally:

  • Payroll or other payment-related processes, such as unemployment
  • Employment agreements
  • Government contracts

   3. Identify Processes that Aren’t a Candidate for Digitization

Once you determine the content to be digitized, identify the content that doesn’t require digitization because it won’t improve how you work, elevate your service delivery or save money. This includes documents that should be destroyed, are close to their end-of-retention lifecycle, or aren’t used frequently and won’t improve or help automate workflows. 

Learn from This Experience

Making the move to digital takes a change in thinking to be successful. 

This is especially important now given what we are learning from the COVID-19 experience related to a remote workforce and maintaining business continuity and efficiency amid unexpected, massive change.

Your employees must have secure access to digital content to work from home. Information in physical documents, microfilm, and maps can’t be accessed, processed, and shared securely, making it impossible for remote workers to be productive if they need that information to do their jobs. Paper content that may have once seemed inconvenient or inefficient can quickly halt business completely when it is completely inaccessible.

Identify the Technology and Expertise You Need

Now more than ever, you’ll need an experienced partner with a variety of service and technology options to help begin or continue the digital content conversion necessary to future-proof your operations, including supporting a remote workforce. A cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution is critical.

SaaS is a powerful, future-proof alternative to traditional software because it provides:

Remote hosting. SaaS software is stored in the cloud. Data is replicated in data centers across multiple geographical locations to keep it secure in the event one data center goes down.

Web-based user access. The software is accessed by users through a web browser, so you can support employees that work from anywhere.

Remote updates and maintenance performed by provider. The SaaS provider updates and maintains the software remotely, so users always have access to the latest version. There’s no additional cost for updates and maintenance.

Subscription-based pricing model. Instead of paying one large, upfront capital cost to own a version of the software, the software is licensed per user, typically on a monthly or annual basis.

To successfully execute your move to digital—and to help with planning, if needed—choose a full-service partner that can adapt to your long- and short-term needs. For example, beyond our cloud technology, Image API’s business process optimization (BPO) services can help maintain business continuity during crisis or just unexpected business changes—often while increasing efficiency—with BPO services for digital mailrooms, document and payment processing, as well as off-site data capture, scanning, and imaging.

Get Started Future-Proofing, We Can Help

ImageAPI is a full-service cloud solution provider for document digitization and workflow automation. That means we manage implementation, not your internal IT resources. There is no software to install, no firewalls to set up, no backups to configure. You get a turnkey content management system in relatively little time with the cloud.

With our technology solutions and BPO services, ImageAPI has improved service delivery and reduced processing times for our clients through scanning and imaging, data capture, digital mailroom, document processing, and other business services. Results are efficient, reliable, and effective.

If you’re ready to start your move to digital and future-proofing your operations for the unexpected, we’d love to share our experience, results, and technology with you. Join our team of digital experts in a webinar on Tuesday, May 12th at 11 a.m. EST where we’ll share our years of experience in digital and real-world examples from clients on the topic of Enabling Business Continuity through COVID-19 and Beyond. We’d love to see you there!

Register Now

We also share regular insights on digitization, cloud technology, content management, and imaging and scanning. Start with our Our Guide to Going Digital.

Together, let’s get ready for what’s next.