Of the many catchphrases born from our technological revolution, “going paperless” is one that comes up frequently in business. Operations managers looking for more efficient workflow processes and increased visibility into the status of work always look for ways to reduce the hard copy. Recently Katherine Gustafson with Quickbooks wrote a great blog on going paperless. As a software company and proponent of cloud-based solutions, I am a disciple of automation, the centralization and accessibility of information and believe that transparency breeds efficiency and happier employees.
Get in the Cloud
Gustafson estimates that searching for and through paper files can take up to 30% of an employee’s time. Additionally, they are not able to access the information anywhere and need to be in the office. For Big Picture proponents, this is sacrilege. Business owners are concerned with results. The more time you spend understanding what is on the document and what course of action you must take the better. Hunting for paper doesn’t drive revenue.
Cloud-based solutions have become increasingly prevalent in the business world. For one thing, consumers are already saavy with the technology. We’ve all seen the Youtube clips of babies navigating touchscreens. According to Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, worldwide tablet sales grew 68% in 2013 . It has never been easier to get your teams on board with cloud-based process management. A friend of mine in the non-profit sector agreed. She said eliminating paper-based processes in budgetary, fundraising, donor and grant management activities has quickened procedures, reduced their margin for error, improved transparency with their donors and positively impacted the overall efficiency of their nonprofit.
Compliance Reviews and Inspections
When Volano Solutions created Action Card, we wanted to bring this kind of efficiency and transparency to multi-location and department organizations who still used paper to conduct their regular visits and reviews. Franchises, wireless retail dealers, hospitals and other compliance driven institutions appreciate the time savings of cloud-based technology. They no longer have to re-enter information written down on location, hunt for completed reviews or attach documents to e-mails which can get easily lost in the shuffle. But our goals went beyond simply providing process efficiency. We wanted to affect change and drive outcomes. When you schedule, conduct and submit a store review from your tablet, complete with photos, notes and their score, that review becomes immediately available to anyone whom you’ve given permission to view the document on-line. More importantly, the store who has been reviewed can also log in, see the items that require reconciliation and fix them. And your field managers and administrators can track when this is happening any time. People tend to act when they know there are eyes on them.
Another outcome-oriented feature that we built in Action Card was reporting. If you hand me a stack of performance reviews on paper and ask me to review them and report back on “the status of reviews in our network,” I’d need some time. I’m not sure I’d connect the dots either in regard to trends. Action Card aggregates all of your reviews, all of your checklist items, sub-categories etc… When you run a date range report, you get the story instantly. Average scores across your network, by region, by location, by personnel etc… Now we can start to see light at the end of the ROI tunnel and make more informed business decisions. To me, this is the key advantage of paperless processes..