Workflow Automation Software

Mission Not Impossible

Via Flickr, Tony Werman and Funtoosh

It’s difficult to claim that you are compliant with internal or external rules and regulations if you don’t have a good base to start with.  Take the concept of the accurate value of your customer contracts for instance or exposure due to vendor contracts, both part of any Sarbanes Oxley regulations (SOX).  It’s hard to imagine having complete confidence in those values or exposures, defined as no more than 5% deviation by SOX, if you don’t have confidence in the collection of supporting documentation.

The focus on customer contracts should take precedence and probably does already in terms of recording the contract terms in your billing system.  But the effort for the most part is still a manual data entry process unless it’s a B2C relationship and all executed digitally online.  Having those contracts to support the revenue is still very likely a messy, disorganized affair with some digital and some paper, some in the cloud and some on the network or attached to the ERP.  An impossible task to corral it all right?

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Not so fast with “bring on the auditors”

Steps - by Jordan Schwarts via Flickr

As a follow up to our last post about having a system of record to make audits seem like a walk in the park, there is more to it.  Recall that a system of record document management solution holds the confirmed supporting documentation for your critical company data, such as, transactions, client accounts, vendor contracts, etc.  If your current file storage solution is not working and you want to convert it to a system of record there are a few things that are required. 

Like all good things, it will take some effort on the front end.  But as we stated in the last post, it is well worth it.  And the value is more than just having a better audit experience.  Its worth it because you also have better information at your fingertips and that leads to better decisions.  So what’s required? Be humble because you will likely learn that your organization is not perfect, be diligent and have some fun because you will discover nuggets of gold.  

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Bring on the auditors!

Regulatory and other entities that audit

Does the thought of going through an audit scare you?  What is an audit?  According to The American Heritage Dictionary, an audit is – An examination of records or financial accounts to check their accuracy or confirm adherence to policy or regulation.  And what does an auditor do? Performs verification and substantiation procedures.  And what types of audits are there? Financial, compliance, internal, security and many more.   

Audits are not something that most of us enjoy going through.  Not for nefarious reasons, but mostly because of the extra time demands and that feeling of uncertainty about providing the required information.  Your accounting system or ERP has been designed to collect and keep your transaction information.  However, can your auditor verify and substantiate the transactions or adherence to policies by matching it to your supporting documentation?  If not, you need to take a system of record approach to documentation and you’ll say “bring on the auditors”.

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You need a smaller house

Via Flickr - Nicolas Boullosa

Has anyone experienced the dad who angrily says ‘where’s my screwdriver’, because it wasn’t put back where he thought it should be.  Are some of your family members more organized than others?  Is one more detail oriented or creative or devil-may-care?  Maybe if your house was a lot smaller, say one room, you wouldn’t have this problem.

Ok, blow that up by 1,000 work associates and think about your critical information.  You can’t make that “house” smaller.  No HR department can choose work associates who all think and work alike.  And you can’t effectively force a single method.  What can be done to give users a reasonable chance to avoid wasting time looking for that screwdriver?  Or more importantly, avoid a negative compliance or audit situation.

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How old are you?

Explore

Try to remember the days of all files being on a shared network drive or all data in spreadsheets.  Try to remember creating and sharing the responsibility of managing a spreadsheet.  What was the largest group of cohorts that you worked with to create a spreadsheet?  Is that easier now than before?  If you need to go back and find the final version of that file, is it easy to do?  Is it easy to share internally and externally?  Do you even need to create spreadsheets anymore?

Is your world any better now that you have implemented that all-encompassing, do all solution be it ERP, contract management, collaboration, or document management solution?  Is it easier to create, collaborate on, find and share information?  Is there better continuity after employee turnover?  What is the best solution?  Is it one mega app or is it best of breed?  Is simpler better or not?  Better still, does what we have actually work?  Let the debates and exploring continue!

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Are file rooms making a comeback?

Via Flickr - Mohamed Baseeth

There was a time when all important company information was on a shelf or in a file cabinet.  Well organized companies could be fairly satisfied that people could find legal documents in the legal department and accounting files in the accounting department.  And with photocopiers and overnight delivery services, documents could even be shared.  When the department appointed a czar to manage their stash of documents, it all seemed to work even better.

But we all know how the story ends.  The czar retired, the company bought four other companies, people forgot the alphabet and this new-fangled computer thing arrived.  Then people weren’t so happy.  Documents weren’t easy to find.  However, with email and the internet, documents did become easier to create and share, a bright spot. So no, file rooms are not making a comeback, not really in a physical sense.

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Don’t Let Complexity make you Complacent

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With all the complexities in the world, how do you determine what to focus on in 2022?  HR and employee issues concerning remote work and wellness?  Office or retail space utilization?  Supply chain issues?  Inflation and pandemics?  World events that could cause disruption?  Blockchain, artificial intelligence, green energy and on and on?  And don’t forget the needs of your customers.

What’s needed is a simple How To Guide to manage this overwhelming challenge to your resources.  There is an old saying paraphrased as “don’t build a house on sand”.  In other words, use your resources to build a solid foundation.  Then you will have the ability to manage a myriad of risks and harness amazing opportunities when they come.  Here are four tasks to help your company Succeed in 2022 and Beyond.

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Risk – Identify, Calculate, Assume, Navigate

Business is full of risk and yes, I CAN live with it.  In fact, having a risk management approach to your business can be hugely beneficial.  Once you have identified the risk and calculated the amount of risk, you can either assume or avoid the risk.  If you assume the risk, then it is imperative to navigate or manage that risk.

Most businesses manage a variety of risks usually around customer, vendor, market or government.  Lately that has expanded to include environmental and social media risk.  It turns out that beyond being excellent tools for improving efficiency and enabling remote work, document management and workflow are risk management tools as well.  Here are some thoughts on how the two work together and how these tools will help you Identify, Calculate, Assume and Navigate the risks to your benefit.

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Wow that’s messy

How can artificial intelligence (“AI”) help you?  Cleaning out the garage or basement?  Reorganizing your closet?  Organizing your family photographs?  Some readers are experiencing anxiety just reading those words much less actually trying to complete those tasks.  But AI is not going to help in those scenarios.

Here’s another anxiety generator – reorganizing and cleaning out your company file server.  Imagine how good that would feel, especially if AI did it all.  Sorry, but that is not likely to happen either.  At least not on its own.  But you if you want to achieve the significant benefits of well organized, accessible information, here are some tips for such a large, complex project.

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