Most institutions today recognize the productivity gains and operational efficiencies of better integrating digitized information into their processes. Yet, even in an age of smartphones and cloud-based applications, most organizations aren’t finding it easy to achieve that integration. In fact, 55 percent of organizations surveyed recently claimed that the amount of paper documents flowing through their organization— rather than decreasing (by moving to digital) — is either stable, increasing, or increasing rapidly:
In reality, incorporating digitized information into processes requires changing those processes. And that can be difficult. How do organizations achieve the benefits that come with more efficient digital processes?
THE EVOLUTION OF MANAGED DOCUMENT SERVICES
When you start looking at how organizations manage information, the most important thing to observe is how it flows: how it comes in, how it moves within a business, and how it is output. The output phase is addressed bymanaged print services (MPS), which has historically meant fleet management, optimizing printer and MFP assets, and managing the costs of consumables. Managed document services (MDS), on the other hand, address the entire document lifecycle: how information flows through an organization and is used within processes.
Furthermore, MDS providers have evolved to offer a range of extensions to their service offerings. Their experience with the migration of document-intensive processes — from input, throughput and output to more integrated digital workflows — gives them clear insight into how information can be better leveraged. This can include intelligent capture, indexing and extraction of data for incorporation into digital workflows.
A good example of this is the digitization of insurance claims — pulling out key data and plugging that data directly into claims processing applications. This not only better integrates digital information into the process, but allows the claims adjuster to focus on what they do best: analyzing claims. The entire claims process itself is changed and upgraded through digitization: Additional claims can be handled more efficiently, and more accurately, with a digital “paper trail” for Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reporting, compliance and continuous improvement.
Other examples of where MDS can add value include the campus mailcenter, handling patient records, mortgage or loan origination documents, and accounts payable or receivable applications. And there is a great deal of evidence showing that, when digital information is integrated in those areas, the benefits are considerable. A 2014 global survey found:
- 38 percent of users showed an ROI from digital mailcenters within 12 months, and 60 percent within 18 months;
- 60 percent of users have seen ROI on their paper-free projects within 12 months, and an impressive 77 percent within 18 months.
The experiential knowledge of a managed service provider brings other benefits. Some can provide process optimization analysis, which help you redesign workflows so you can achieve the business benefits of more integrated digitization. They can avoid known pitfalls and apply best practices to your digitization efforts. And, significantly, assistance coming from outside the organisation can in many cases help you overcome organisational resistance to change.
CONFIDENCE LEVEL IS HIGH – FOR SOME
A recent study of 210 organizations revealed that only 29 percent believe they are effective at integrating paper and digital workflows. But when you split these organisations into groups — those that have some experience with managed services (even only MPS) and those that don’t — you see a notable variation in their confidence levels.
Of those that had no experience with MPS, only 9 percent rated their ability to integrate digitized information as effective or very effective. This number shoots up to 51 percent, however, among organizations that did have some experience with MPS.
It makes sense to me that those organizations that have worked with experienced service providers would approach process digitization with a greater level of confidence.
WHY GO IT ALONE?
The organizational advantages of integrated, digitized information go beyond productivity gains and cost savings. Customer service staff benefit from access to more current information and faster turnarounds with customers. Frequently, digitization of processes enables mobile access to information, which is another key benefit for your customer-facing staff — and in some cases, for your customers directly (think self-service portals or kiosks).
Organizations (whether they be universities or enterprises) who are looking beyond managed print services for experienced, end-to-end support in optimizing their document processes must ask a few key questions: What is the relevant input, throughput and output so that you can genuinely support your customer-facing workers with the right information at the right time? And at the back end, how do you ensure that your end users are receiving the right information in the format that they want?
Managed document service providers look at the entire document lifecycle, from how information comes into the business to how it moves within and out of the business. They have designed and delivered proven digitization solutions, from mailrooms to patient records.