What Can Document Management Workflow do for You?

Document management system (DMS) workflow is integral to leveraging paperless office processes. Although identifying the single most important feature of a document management system will vary depending on the industry in which the feature is used.

However, workflow has benefits as numerous as they are widespread in a variety of workplace settings: it automates business processes, ensures employees’ accountability, and clearly defines internal processes. In fact, when viewing workflow as a byproduct of the document management system, this byproduct aptly describes what a document management system is.

In this article, we’ll discuss why workflow is one of the most underutilized document management system features, and how to change this phenomenon through understanding its role in the organizational context.


Why Document Management System Workflow is the Backbone of Paperless Offices

For starters, workflow is not only a byproduct of a document management system, but also a feature of the document management system.

As a byproduct, workflow is partially what turns the scattered, unmapped processes within an organization into the digital secretary that can manage them, helping organizations overthrow paper-dependent processes without creating internal chaos and confusion.

As a document management system feature, workflow also sheds light on the inefficiency of these paper-dependent processes insomuch as it redefines the concept of efficiency in the workplace—significantly raising the bar for standards of productivity—and—therefore, innovation.


Why Workflow Has So Much Document Management Potential

Workflow is most valuable to document management system users because of its underutilization. How can something be valuable if nobody uses it? You ask. Well, it’s an untapped resource, and the organizations that learn to use it first will also gain the productivity advantages it yields first.

Therefore, companies leveraging the workflow feature of document management software stand to gain a competitive advantage over organizations that use document management software without utilizing the feature—and, particularly, organizations without any kind of workflow tracking or document management system process whatsoever.


Workflow is a Window into Document Management Functionality

Although workflow automates internal processes, this automation does not equate to a lack of document routing options. For instance, tasks can be shot back and forth between two or three separate employees a specified number of times before moving to the next stage in the workflow cycle—freeing the concept of workflow from traditionally linear pipelines.

It also offers security on projects, allowing only specific users to access information within a workflow—a highly important feature given the increasing number of data breaches occurring worldwide as most data breaches occur internally.

In addition to the document management system web portal, workflow also prevents employees from engaging in activities that enable data breaches, such as sending email attachments with sensitive information. Users can also specify conditional paths in their workflow cycles, accounting for even the most complex business processes across industries.


Workflow Leverages Popular Software Plug-Ins

As workflow becomes increasingly integrated with the software traditionally used for the enterprise, so do its advocates. Derrick Apple, an eFileCabinet document management system user, specifies: “The Microsoft Plug-Ins work well, integrating it (the preexisting internal process) into the workflow.”

However, workflow does not leave those who want to create new internal processes in the dark, helping employees learn, trace, and manage their own workflow with greater efficiency. As a central repository and digital work station, workflow is the key document management software feature, ensuring accountability, responsibility, and project completion across various departments.


Workflow Best Practices in Document Management System Context

Workflow is designed to help organizations support business processes, content routing, and the assignment of work tasks and states. Although workflow is commonly found in many consumer grade solutions, it is improved—perhaps even perfected—within the document management system space.

Vendors’ newfound tool, at least as it pertains to workflow, is that of approval and validation processes within the workflow cycle. These approval and validation features confirm the completion of tasks through multiple touch points, keeping all members of a project informed as to what stage the project is in and how other members are working.

The simplest way to understand workflow in the document management system space is by understanding it as a map for organizational processes that can supplant the need for email, face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, or in-person communication.

For instance, email is not workflow, because it allows too much room for individual task liberty, and does not offer enough interactivity between groups of people, whereas workflow sets parameters for a team’s project completion.

Although workflow and email have similarities, such as the ability to comment on and communicate within a given set of procedures, the disparities are greater and more significant in number than the similarities.


Workflow in the Context of Process Perfection

For instance, from a compliance standpoint, comments within a workflow are backed up and saved regardless of what users without the permission to delete them do, whereas email allows, again, more individual liberty to make mistakes.

Workflow is far more than just a funnel or pipeline for task completion. Rather, the usability of this feature among the best document management system vendors will entail bi-directional functionality.

Above all, workflow increases the organization’s interoperability, and is used strictly for internal efficiency. Although the internal efficiency workflow provides can indirectly benefit the customer experience, it is not used to communicate directly with customers or engage the transactional components of business.