Workflow Automation Software

Magic and madness

How can it be that there is both magic and madness when it comes to implementing workflow?  The magic is when you experience the efficiency of a successfully completed process – the approved budget, the signed contract, the approved scholarship.  The madness is getting to that point.

Getting a digital workflow process designed and implemented is fun for people like me who love the challenge of figuring it all out.  But it can be complete madness for others as they work to define the real process and consider options made available by the technology.  If you want the magic and to avoid the madness as much as possible, follow these steps.

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A record of the truth

What’s the core record for your business?  The order, contract, application, evaluation, presentation and subscription all come to mind.  It doesn’t matter if your business sells cars, office space, ideas or medical services, there is a necessary recording of the transaction and end product to the transaction. 

The progression over the past 30+ years has been to devise ways to make the recording, tracking and documentation of your business as streamlined as possible.  That entailed digitizing that path.  But digital data isn’t always what it seems and therefore the support for the transaction is still a key component of every business.  What is your key Record?

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Is this the real end of paper?

The paperless office concept has been talked about for years.  In fact, at least for all of the 25 years that Millennia Group has been in business with that as our focus.  But, here we are and our facility is full of boxes of paper documents that our clients want scanned.  And more boxes arrived today.

But now the concept is no office, not just no paper.  So if there isn’t an office, that pretty much means no paper, right?  What else does it mean?

There is scanning work to be done.  If there was an office and now there will be no office, then any legacy paper files will need to be scanned.  This is achievable with either internal or external resources.  Scan, verify and then destroy the original paper documents.  Unless those paper documents happen to be negotiable securities or documents that are legally required to be in paper form.  Keep those somewhere safe.  This effort is probably long overdue anyway.

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Connected to Compliance

As we roll out compliance workflow I am reminded how information technology (“IT”) is so tightly connected to the concept of compliance.  Information, as in vulnerability reports, access requests, firewall logs, hiring statistics and much more, is the key component for compliance.  Technology, as in firewalls and workflow, is both the end purpose and solution.  You know the headlines, data breaches, ESG issues, government regulations, these are all issues that require corporate compliance measures.

Compliance is basically setting up policies and procedures that ensure best practices for corporate security, effectiveness, goals, etc. and then auditing the adherence to those policies and procedures so that risks can be avoided.  The best solution to minimize the deviation from the policies and procedures and to lessen the burden of audits, is to use technology to track the process of gathering, reviewing and approving the information.  Wow, that sounds like a great fit for a technology solution, workflow. 

Human Process Augmentation – I’m not scared

Robotic Process Automation.  The description is a little deceiving based on how it is used.  Generally, people think Robot and they think mechanical apparatus, computer brain, a bit scary.  However, the current use of that description is more broad and is also used to describe software based workflow solutions.

With or without a mechanical or physical component, it seems that a better description might be Human Process Augmentation (“HPA”).  Or at least it seems that if software is the apparatus, it is just augmenting the human process.  You could say that using digital signatures is HPA.  You no longer need to pick up a pen and send out an overnight package.  You’re no scaredy cat.

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Yep we need that

You or your co-workers have been away from the office for a long time now. What are you missing? That is not a question about certain people or favorite lunch spots. It’s a question about information. Has this experience exposed deficiencies or nurtured already advancing digital processes?

Some companies are finding that there were still some hard copy documents that they needed access to.  Maybe it was just random documents that were slow to enter the digital realm.  These are the documents that come in to certain people directly, but take a long time to become digital and accessbile to all.  Maybe it is a certain type of document like drawings or archived customer files that have been more difficult or costly to convert.  It may be time to re-evaluate the cost benefit of getting those documents scanned or implementing a centralized digital mail room.

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Kicking off our 25th Year!

Let's Do ThisAs we kicked off our 25th year in business in September, Millennia Group did not wait around for the New Year to start anew. Here’s what’s new:

New Facility – We’re moving to a new facility on December 1st, 2020 with a configuration to maximize our security, efficiency and office flexibility.

New Employee – Welcome to Kevin Turner our new senior software developer.  He comes to Millennia Group with 11 years of experience at a national software solutions provider.

New Equipment – All new high-speed scanning equipment to help you convert those critical paper documents and plans/drawings to mobile friendly digital and a new IP phone system for even better customer support.

New Features – FileStar has new features and benefits (A/P workflow, new integrations, improved notifications and more.)

New Tools – FileStar Agent to keep your network drive in sync with your EDMS.  Call us to learn more.

What does this all mean for our customers and future customers?  It means we will be more efficient and more effective in providing our customers with workflow and document management solutions, document scanning services and data migration services. 

As we start our 25th year in business, we are as dedicated as ever to being the best service provider in the document management industry.  If your new flexible workplace rules have resulted in employees struggling to gain access to critical documents or your work processes have bogged down, contact us now!

Let’s talk X’s and O’s

Small businesses are always looking at ways to grow and prosper.  This is a ritual that is practiced regularly but more now than ever and it’s not limited to small businesses either.  But while owners and executives throw sh** at the wall, whiteboard ideas or put on our rally caps to generate that grand, economy saving solution, it’s important not to forget the X’s and O’s.  That means do the little things right so in the end the chances of winning (or surviving, depending on your perspective) improve.    

That is sound advice even if it is from the sporting world and not Wall Street.  So what are some of the little things your organization can be doing to increase its chances of winning?  Remember, its little things we are talking about, not “Increase Sales” or “Outsource Production”.  More like – does your CRM have the correct industry code for every client or do we have fraud controls in place for our wire transfers?  Let’s take some clues from those head coaches who at half time always say, “we need to do better at the X’s and the O’s.”

As an example of doing little things, we see the use of simple workflows increasing substantially.  A workflow to ensure that every outbound wire transfer goes through the proper authorizations and is recorded properly.  A workflow to help manage bad debt write-offs, which is unfortunately a hot topic at the moment.  How about a simple workflow to process journal entries, typically a manual process of email with supporting documentation attached.  Convert the old methods of doing these tasks with an automated and tracked digital workflow, its time.

How about gathering up all of your organizations vendor contracts, either the hardcopy or the digital version and ensuring you have the correct terms and notification periods recorded.  Yes, that is a basic vendor management system or contract management system.  This will ensure you don’t accidently auto-renew a contract with a less than stellar vendor for another year.  It might also help you realize you are missing the executed contract on many vendors, a compliance and potential cost issue.

What processes are in place at your organization that use a spreadsheet for a checklist?  Now is the time to convert that spreadsheet to an online checklist which is accessible to all vested parties and updated in real time.  Maybe then you can have the checklist programmatically notify you of missing items or upcoming critical dates.  This simple effort can save any organization lots of money and avoid potential missed opportunities or mistakes.

Lastly, take a poll of your remote workers and find out how to help them be more efficient from home or when working remotely.  Is it a better communication tool?  Is it a nicer chair?  Maybe there is information, like customer or order information, that was never converted to digital and hard to access.  Remote work is not going to stop the minute this pandemic is over.  It’s part of your organizations bag of tricks to have an efficient remote option for workers.  Yep, that is a little X’s and O’s talk. 

Millennia Group, since 1996, created and hosts FileStar, a workflow and document management solution and CollectDocs, an online checklist application.  For more information visit our website or contact us.

Pandemic Pajama Plan

via Flickr - Nelson PavloskyThese 9 suggestions are meant to help your company come out of this pandemic with a fresh, invigorated attitude and a platform ready to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.  And, if your company has a document management system, substitute “network drive” with the name of that document management system.  Good luck and can’t wait to see you on the other side of this.

Top 9 Pandemic Pajama Plan Items:

  1. Purge old electronic files.  Have employees purge files from their personal folders or shared folders that are not necessary for company purposes.  The three main records retention classifications include: legally required, operationally required and historically important.  Don’t destroy records that are need for legal or compliance reasons.  Don’t destroy records that are needed to support current transactions or contracts.  Don’t destroy the first ever drawing of a new product.  Give employees some clear instructions of what falls into the various definitions.
  2. Purge old emails.  Same story as purging old files.
  3. Clean up the directory structure on the network drive.  Rename folders to sort correctly (ie. last name, first name) or to create a perfect match to your core business system.  For instance, include a customer number in addition to the customer name, include a product ID and product name, etc.  Get rid of all folders on the shared drive that are someone’s name, especially if that someone is long gone.
  4. Remind all employees not to save files on their local computer drives.  While you are at it, remind them to move those legally required, organizationally required or historically significant documents to the company network drive.
  5. Take a survey of all employees and ask what information is hardest to get at now that they are working from home?  Then get a plan together to fix that issue.
  6. During your quarterly security awareness training, because I am sure all companies do quarterly security awareness training for all employees, remind them that the CEO\CFO\COO will never ask them via email to wire money to anybody, any time or anywhere.
  7. Go through the company CRM and purge old, bad contacts.  Those contacts just create confusion.
  8. Confirm the contact information for all customers and vendors in your ERP – delete the rest.
  9. Spend 15 minutes a day clicking every single button and menu item and running every report in the most complicated software applications that your company uses so you can see that you won’t break it (stay away from the Delete function).  This will eliminate your fear and turn you into a rockstar.
Millennia Group provides workflow and document management solutions using our FileStar platform and our document scanning services.  Contact us at info@mgdocs.com or find us at www.mgdocs.com.

As necessary

Via Flickr  - US ArmyThere are plenty of companies and individuals making decisions over the past few weeks and for the coming few months that are based on a get-it-done strategy.  This is completely understandable as we all face unprecedented business and personal circumstances.  Looking on the bright side of things, some of these “as necessary” reactions and solutions may just be the spark that helps a company be a little more productive, a little more efficient or a little less stuck.

So what parts of the business world is grabbing attention that otherwise gets very little?  The mail room for sure.  Filing cabinets and the documents stuck in them, absolutely.  Virtual video conferencing backgrounds so nobody sees your bedroom, I mean home office.  The quality of the mobile phone carrier and the quality of headphones will definitely get a look.  There will be plenty of stories from people forced to work remotely or otherwise change their work habits.

Make sure to ask the questions and to listen to the stories.  These will be the big opportunities for the future and will help to make little improvements right now.  These improvements will include not only technology, but also physical elements too.  For instance, how far apart should workstations or machines be?  Should any door not have auto-open or hands-free operation? 

But even the wildest imagination won’t pick up on all of it.  There will always be issues that you just have to deal with and do what’s necessary.  If you have to, stagger the workforce hours to make sure your occupancy ratio doesn’t exceed 50% of the total employees, then do it.  If scanning mail and emailing it to employees is what is needed, then do it.  But keep an open mind and see what works or could work with the “As Necessary” process that could become a version of the eventual standard.