Document Management: Paperwork, Automation & Productivity

Olympias Moran
Posted by Olympias Moran on Jul 1, 2019 11:52:12 AM
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Paperwork continues to pile up. Employees need to stay up to date with onboarding freelancers, protecting their data, paying their invoices and creating reports. By removing mundane tasks and automating paperwork with Flime, your employees can instead be productive in the job they were hired to do.

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Paperwork Invasion

Since paper was invented in 100 BC by the Chinese Ts’ai Lun under the Han dynasty, the material has been used to document important information in schools, governments and business organisations. Although paperwork has been part of our working culture for eras, investigating the impact it has on our society began only in recent years.

A small group of scholars are currently researching office memos, government documents and corporate records. They are investigating how paperwork circulates and the unpredictable effects it can cause. Among these scholars is Ben Kafka, author of “The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork”. In his book, he describes the history of people and our connection with paperwork that governs so much of our daily life - a chaotic story of events going wrong or at least, very messy.

In the late 1960’s IBM released new equipment to help solve “paperwork invasion” at the office by being one of the first to enter the document automation market. It was a time when people recognised the benefits machines could bring to remove tedious, time-consuming work that prevented them from doing their core tasks. “IBM machines can do the work so people can think”. Almost 50 years later - not much has changed. Physical paper still accumulates and mounts in offices as well as disorganized digital forms and documents being sent back and forth via email.

Lost Employee Productivity

According to Sapho and the CMOCouncil, businesses lose at least $1 trillion every year on lost productivity due to badly managed business processes. Employees state that time spent on dealing with manual, repetitive tasks could be better dedicated to activities that require their unique skills. Today, 86% of the employees shared that automation has made their workflow more efficient saving them more hours during the week. It is not surprising to hear that, globally, the workflow automation market was valued at USD 4.26 Billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 18.45 Billion by 2023.

When working with freelancers, there are certain steps that take up more time than needed. Managers say the top workflow challenge they face is poor communication (30 per cent), followed by repetitive errors (24 per cent) and delays in project deployment (23 per cent). The four areas where companies can automate their freelance management process and avoid such problems include onboarding, privacy and security, payments, and tax filing.

Onboarding Paperwork With Digital Signatures

The various steps required for onboarding a new freelancer may not seem significant, but the tasks add up. They can be cumbersome for both the employer and the freelancers. What should be an easy process encounters barriers and also delays employees from their core work. Simple issues such as, not having the right details in the contract, scanning or taking a photo of your identification, finding and storing social security numbers and filling in your bank account details may be repeated every time a new contract starts. In addition, both parties need to sign the contract. This can be paper-based form - which involves posting the contract twice and then scanning the document to keep a second copy digitally.

Instead, electronic forms signed digitally, close contracts as fast as possible - with no repetition and most importantly without employers or freelancers giving the process a second thought. It is that easy and doesn't cause any frustration.

In addition, onboarding can be done before the first working day. Freelancers have all the necessary steps completed in advance and can start working on the projects for the time they are paid for. According to Aberdeen, “best-in-class” companies are 53% more likely to begin the onboarding process before day one.

Payments & Electronic Forms Software

Getting invoicing right is important and must be treated with professionalism. There is a range of benefits that will ensure your team is focusing on their core tasks instead of dealing with problems that occur with non-e-invoicing exchange and audit trails.

  • Business Savings/Increased Productivity: sorting out invoices and spending less time to manually input invoice data into Accounts Payable (AP) systems, ensures that AP staff can focus their energies elsewhere.
  • Reduces incorrect invoicing: e-invoicing eliminates the reliance on error-prone, manual re-keying of data entry, which also reduces overall business costs for companies. E-Invoices are automatically processed with ready-to-use templates making invoicing as accurate as possible.
  • Payments are faster: when freelancers send paper or PDF invoices, the employer has to sort, rout, re-enter and submit invoices for approval. This process takes time and effort. With just 1 click, employers can pay through an automated service instead.
  • Increase cash flow: immediate payments means that money is sent to the freelancer on time - improving the freelancer’s cash flow and motivation for more work and productivity.
  • Easier to keep track of invoices: when an invoice has been sent, viewed, and paid with an e-invoicing software, the data is stored and is easily accessible. Companies can improve their audit trail by managing documents digitally. This reduces the risk of disorganisation and lost paperwork that employees would have to spend time on finding and organising when they could be doing something else.

Automation in Technical Documents: Privacy & Security

GDPR rules result in companies needing to hire a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who is efficient, correct and adheres to each rule stated by the policy. Failure to comply with the rules can end up costing companies heavy penalties - up to 4% of global revenue or 20 Million. GDPR comes with a lot of paperwork. The DPO must write up policies and conduct audits. For smaller companies, hiring a DPO may not be feasible and the responsibility is shared among employees, but this, in turn, takes them away from the work they were initially hired to do.

Freelance management systems such as Flime take care of GDPR as part of their core business. Companies no longer have to worry about being compliant or dedicate time and money to the process such as data capture and protection. Having a third party take care of GDPR also reduces the risk of information being leaked or shared between employees. This saves designated DPO employees’ efforts from making sure that all the data is securely contained and regulated within the company.

Paperwork For Taxes

Filing taxes is a necessity for all businesses, employees and freelancers. Countries have different tax policies and regimes that are constantly changing every few years. Accountants need to stay up to date with the changes and make sure that they are filing tax forms correctly and this takes a lot of time, money and effort. Third party services such as Flime have a robust API that allows the system to build integrations with all the major accounting software providers such as Iris, KashFlow or Sage reducing a company’s yearly costs.

Beavis Morgan reports that the UK’s aim to digitise taxes will create an annual benefit of £6.9 billion, or £46 billion over five years, in net gains in turnover and growth for the UK economy. The report states that once businesses integrate technology like Flime’s API to simplify tax filing, a “digital snowball” effect is likely to occur and will increase the levels of company productivity.

The Positive Effects of Automating Paperwork

The time to get on board with the digital change in paperwork is now and freelance management systems can help make processes run smoothly. What happens when you use workflow software and remove paperwork for a day?

According to KPMG, successful process automation projects save companies 40% – 75% in costs with payback that varies between several months and several years. This is money and time that could be dedicated to tasks that freelancers and employees are motivated and hired to do.

Topics: Finance, Paperwork