What Can Document Management Workflow do for You?

Learning about document management system (DMS) workflow is integral to leveraging paperless office processes for your documents. 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, document management workflows have benefits as numerous as they are widespread in a variety of workplace settings: it automates business systems processes, ensures employees’ accountability, and clearly defines internal processes. In fact, when viewing document management workflows 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 DMS workflows are one of the most underutilized document management system features, and how to change this phenomenon through learning more about its role in the organizational context.


Why Document Management System Workflow is the Backbone of Paperless Offices

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

As a byproduct, workflows are partially what turns the scattered, unmapped processes within an organization into the digital secretary that can manage them, helping organizations overthrow paper-dependent processes with their documents 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

Workflows are most valuable to document management system users because of its underutilization. How can something be valuable if nobody learns how to use it, you ask? Well, it’s an untapped resource, and the organizations that learn to use document management workflows first will also gain time 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 learning to utilize the feature—and, particularly, organizations without any kind of workflow tracking systems or document management system process whatsoever.

Workflow is a Window into Document Management Functionality

Although a document management workflow automates internal processes, this automation does not equate to a lack of routing options for your documents. For instance, documents 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 systems.

It also offers security on documents, allowing only specific users to access information within a document management 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, a 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 for documents in their document management workflow cycles, accounting for even the most complex business processes across industries.


Workflow Leverages Popular Software Plug-Ins

As document management 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, document management workflows do not leave those who want to create new internal processes in the dark, helping employees learn, trace, and manage their own workflow in a shorter amount of time. As a central repository and digital workstation, workflows are the key document management software feature, ensuring accountability, responsibility, and project completion on documents across various departments.


Workflow Best Practices in Document Management System Context

Document management 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 systems space.

Vendor’s newfound tool, at least as it pertains to workflow, is that of approval and validation processes within the document management 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 save you time. You can supplant the need for email, face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, or in-person communication by using workflows.

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

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 over time.

Document management workflows are 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, document management workflows increase the organization’s interoperability, and are 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 a business.