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Document approval workflow

Ana Canteli

Written by Ana Canteli on 29 October 2021

In most commercial operations of a company, it is necessary to demonstrate the agreement between the parties by approving or signing documents as material proof of the deal that has been reached.

The clearest example is the invoices that the company issues and its client pays. This, which thus defined may seem quite bombastic, happens every day, several times a day, at different levels of business life. Still, these types of transactions also occur internally, intradepartmental, between different areas of the organization, with other group entities, public administrations, or other interest groups.

In all these cases, the creation and management of documentation occur, at least, in some stage of the business process. Either the issuance of delivery notes (which will lead to the creation of an invoice). The delivery of payroll by an agency to its client. Or the file number that the university has to generate when receiving all the requested documentation to the student, to name just a few scenarios.

As you can imagine, in all these cases, there are exchanges, transactions, which give rise to the creation of a multitude of types of documents. Which arise from the logic of the business process to which they are linked.

To guarantee the proper management of documents and processes, it is necessary to have a document management system that meets the organization's needs, helps overcome possible difficulties, and helps to make the most of the advantages that may arise. Nowadays, it is increasingly common to find that electronic document management software has workflow tools among its functionalities.

To benefit from workflow systems in the strict sense, it is not necessary to tackle the digitization of documents; it is enough to be clear about the evolution of the business process and make all its members respect the established plan. However, organizations increasingly value productivity and efficiency, saving time, and investing resources in more profitable activities. That's why the use of workflow systems makes document digitization highly recommendable.

In addition, following the logic of continuous improvement, it is very likely that business processes will change over time, be updated, and corrected. It is always possible to communicate these changes to users. Still, to minimize the impact of potential human errors, guarantee compliance and increase quality, satisfaction (both within the organization and for customers), and efficiency, electronic document management is the best solution.

Can you imagine managing the approval of paper invoices? Create the invoices in the document management system, but print them, put them in envelopes, stick the stamp, send them to the post office or wait for the postman to pass through the office. Please wait for the customer to receive it, open it, understand its content, and act accordingly. And all this, if there have been no failures or errors in the business process (in paper format).

Thanks to workflow systems, we can benefit from many advantages that make business processes a safe, fast, and simple way of working.

  • Greater productivity: it is usually the main reason why companies are interested in workflows. A workflow is defined as a univocal channel for managing a process specified in a succession of stages. The procedure and the attached documentation do not reach more advanced stages unless all the prerequisites are met. The reduction of incidents and the correct assignment of tasks directly influence the productivity obtained, both individual and organizational levels. In addition, if workflows are combined with electronic document management, that means significant savings in time and money and that staff can dedicate themselves to more relevant tasks, thanks to the presence of automated processes.
  • Greater security. Primarily when we use workflows together with document management software, on the one hand, thanks to the document managers, we ensure that only users registered in the system can access the flow of documents. That is, the process, the documentation - whether it is electronic from its origin or has been included through the digitization of documents - or both elements. On the other hand, each user who participates in the flow of documents will access them according to the security defined in the document management system. Depending on the process modeling, they may have the right to read, write, download, etc., which can be subject to changes, as we have seen before.
  • More control: thanks to the flow of documents, those in charge will be able to exercise control of processes easily since workflow engines usually include an interface that allows seeing the evolution of the process in real-time; see who it is assigned to, when it was set, you can even insert SLAs so that users work within certain time limits. Regarding the documentation status, document managers usually facilitate the traceability of documents throughout their entire life cycle. They also enable version control, so if at any point a user makes a mistake about a file, the appropriate version can be retrieved to continue the approval process.
  • Better communication and coordination. Both internally and with our clients, suppliers, and stakeholders. Standardized business processes are not only used to automate internal processes. They are also recommended to create a communication channel agreed with our clients, our suppliers, and other interested parties. Participants can consult in real-time the status of the management processes in which they are involved. In turn, the workflows can send an email as an automatic notification to the interested party at the moment in which any relevant event occurs. And this means of communication serves users to coordinate with each other, foresee the following steps, and thus be prepared for when they receive the workflow assignment. In addition, by opting for document managers in combination with workflow systems, we provide a single work platform for all beneficiaries, facilitating global process control.

It is still necessary to evaluate the most exciting features that the right workflow software for our organization has to meet. And among them, the autonomy to develop our workflows cannot be underestimated.

The OpenKM document manager includes all the necessary document management tools to implement a reliable, secure, and efficient document management system. Among them, a workflow engine integrated into the software license. For greater comfort and autonomy, we offer at OpenKM Academy a training course to create and develop business processes. In this way, with OpenKM, the organization enjoys total freedom to manage its projects without third-party collaboration.

If you want to know more about the workflow included in the document management system, do not hesitate to contact us.

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