Robotic Process Automation – Documents Against the Machine?

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No. Not really. We should NEVER look at RPA as the enemy.

Maybe this was the intention of a young Czechoslovakian Karel ńĆapek when he invented the word “Robot” in Rossum’s Universal Robots in 1920. But robotic process automation is supposed to empower us to become more efficient, more accurate, more productive, and more environmentally savvy. In fact, there is a substantial amount of people who still spend more than 20% of their time searching for documents. Their own and from others (email and web-based tools).

Fact: Many of us are still not leveraging a big portion of our existing, modern or not, legacy or not systems around us. Many of us also have cumbersome step-intense processes.

But the question regarding reducing the workplace merits a discussion around three important points. What departments at my company can receive more impact from document management systems? also, Which document types are we going to put through automation? and lastly, How can we put all this through a processed integration and include my existing security policies/legacy software solutions?

Robotic Process Automation

What departments can Robotic Process Automation in Document Management System impact the most?

The easy answer to that would be – a company who needs to go digital and requires several document types to be processed through approval processes and compliantly move around the work-place. A company who has a few existing solutions purchased through the years with the need to integrate several data sources. Ok. If this is you, then please contact us and we can help you now. Otherwise, here is the not-so-easy answer.

The best departments who can impact from a Document Management System are the ones who have repetitive document-driven processes. These documents require several action items in order to “move forward”:

  • sending
  • downloading
  • copying
  • pasting
  • duplicating
  • emailing
  • saving into ftp
  • saving to the network
  • printing

The best “blanket-departments” we’ve seen more success in are Accounting (payables and receivables), Human Resources, Content Services, Logistics, Contracts Management, and legal. Yes. Most of those are paper-intense with heavy approval processes. But automation can apply to any other with the same characteristics.

Which document types can we automate?

In a recent scenario where we were asked to do a discovery analysis, in which one of the documents came into an email box daily. The document then was saved locally by user to “just keep a copy in case something happens”. Then this user forwards the email to a supervisor who also saves it, this time in the G: drive. Let’s not forget the user might go to the third floor, and saves the document in a flash drive. I know. It sounds ridiculous to even think how many we are doing. Maybe not the same but you get my point.

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Based on our answer from question number #1, the documents we think can be easily automated are accounts payable documents (invoices, purchase orders, etc.), vendor information documents (tax id, I-9, non-profits, etc), human resources (w-4, applications, on-boarding, general documents), contracts, etc.

How to determine where to integrate and how to design workflow Robotic Process Automation?

You likely have a general sense of your workflow already. Most people do, especially if they have been doing these document-centric processes manually. This is not the most important challenge. The biggest challenge comes with convincing your staff you need CHANGE. Quickly. So the way you design this “workflow” will depend on how “unchanged” your staff feels from their current situation. Funny concept but a true one. People are embracing these required changes in order to understand Robotic Process Automation and how much a positive impact it might bring, but companies need to provide the right tools.

A great rule of workflow design is to write out the manual process right now. In other words, take a new notepad document and write down step-by-step how a document originates, and how it archives (the entire process including approving users).

The more steps the better, to leverage ALL THE TOOLS available in any of the solutions you select.

Mapping out your current manual process can help in leveraging the following features:

  • Intelligent Indexing – the ability to extract data from documents for easy indexed searches, workflow triggers, and safe/accurate data in your environment
  • Email integration – the ability to save documents straight from your email. In other words, you pick if you want those emails saved automatically or not
  • Auto Index – Use a centralized folder powered by templates to build a centralized repository.
  • Markup tools – we love the ability to write on, markup, redact, or even highlight documents
  • Stamps – configured workflow triggered stamps to help users move documents with customized approval tools.

We prefer and have proven cases of DocuWare to be the most robust, apples-to-apples comparison out there. Also,DocuWare has received many awards, including Gartner’s Best User Ease-of-use Experience.

The statement will remain true. Automation is here to help us drive more agile results in our workplace. Robotic Process Automation will help us perfect our own internal processes and make a positive impact all around.

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