Ditching the way a company has collected data for years may not be an easy decision to make, but it's one that needs to be given a good, hard look for teams of all sizes. According to a recent report from Xerox, nearly half of small businesses say they’re wasting time on paper-intensive processes. Isn't it time we migrate to a mobile-first environment?
No matter the size of your team or the sector in which you specialise, investing in technology that guarantees increased productivity, saves thousands annually and gives a quick return on investment should be a fairly straightforward choice. But the speed at which teams are adapting to a more digital, mobile-friendly landscape is moving slower than we think. Only 35 per cent of companies surveyed by IDC said they were well on their way to adopting or deriving business insights from digital transformation applications and technologies. Compared to last year’s survey, the response was down by 10 percentage points.
The good news is that more businesses are expected to make the jump to digital within the next 12 months, says Xerox. Its report shows that businesses plan to improve some of their current document workflow processes. The advantages of doing so are boundless.
In comparison to paper forms, which can cost a company $5-10k annually on storage, printing and ordering, our research shows that mobile forms can improve annual productivity by 35 per cent and show a return on investment in just six months. Sometimes, it’s even faster. For one, mobile-based forms are faster to complete and are almost always more accurate. And using mobile apps reduces the amount of printing, storage, and distribution costs that businesses tend to spend a huge amount of expenses on. Likewise, mobile forms can accompany employees on the go, whether they’re straying from the office for a sales meeting or attending a tradeshow. There is no longer the need to head back to headquarters to share a new customers details or process a document. Real-time sharing saves on costs and time, giving teams who travel greater flexibility and efficient tools.
Aside from more noticeable hurdles like lost or illegible documents, a digital workflow results in total automation that can apply to every process across all departments within a business. Gone are the days where a business workflow revolves around the slow process of capturing data on paper to then be manually entered into a database. By going paperless, information is automatically stored in the cloud and can be regularly routed to the appropriate people, groups or other software systems. As a result, there is no more wasted time on data entry and other routine administrative tasks. Information can be transferred in real-time and completed right from a mobile device, resulting in an increase in visibility, reduction of errors and overall improved efficiency.
Every day, businesses generate large amounts of data: data on customers, inventory, sales, equipment status and more. If properly organised and analysed, the data can yield all sorts of information to assist in decision-making and provide a more holistic view of a businesses’ operations. Most often because that data is static, and hidden away in cabinets, the insights that can be derived from the data goes undiscovered. Thanks to digital processes and workflows, businesses are able to gain a new understanding from their data, and put the same power of “business intelligence”— previously reserved for “the big guys”— to work. By tapping into the power of mobile forms and data analysis, companies can dramatically improve day-to-day operations and strategic planning. As a result, a company is provided a centralised view of their operations via a cloud database of captured reports that can be analysed in real-time.
The power of data is that information accrues over time. Let’s say a retailer is inspecting their store and employee work site, and they have 10, 30, or 100 inspections. Patterns begin to emerge, and they can start to be more proactive and less reactive. The same retailer can now view a dashboard that allows them to analyse employees’ time cards. How many tasks do employees complete per day or per week? How much time is each employee spending between jobs? Which team is the most/least productive?
Eliminating paper can sound daunting, but there are a few easy steps to get started to move business information from paper to mobile that ensures a seamless transition.
- Baby steps first: Don’t try to overhaul an entire organisation at once. Look at most commonly used forms, and start the process there. Begin by scanning and/or creating PDFs of documents used most often around the office.
- Ditch that notebook for an app: Rather than taking a traditional notebook to your next meeting, download an app or software on a mobile device to make the process faster. Consider using mobile forms available online to help ease the transition. Not only can businesses do their work more efficiently, but their customers will be happier since they're getting what they need faster.
- Invest in online collaboration tools: Using software like Google Drive or Dropbox can make document collaboration and sharing much easier. Not only is there a single repository for forms – which means they're not stuck in filing cabinets – but anyone within an organisation can access them when needed. For example, this means that sales teams aren't scrambling when they're in meetings offsite, and need paperwork to complete a sale.
- Accept digital payments: Rather than worry about carrying a checkbook or cashing in a check later, by accepting digital payments through Square or Paypal, businesses can conduct transactions faster. Not only does this mean payments are made faster, but it means businesses can avoid the hassle of paper receipts, too.
Once all that information is collected, businesses can further expand on how they use their data because digital tools allow more room for better use. Going paperless is a whole new way of team-working. Though the vision of a fully digital workplace is gradually coming into fruition, it’s clear that the future will look paperless.
James Robins, CMO, Canvas
Image Credit: Jason Truscott / Flickr