Workflow Automation Software

Millennia Group Blog

Tag and push is not a playground game

via Flickr - Mineola MinnesotaCompanies, large and small, have procedures or rules that employees are supposed to follow to complete certain tasks.  Each company determines the most efficient methods or methods that meet regulatory or compliance requirements.  These rules can be written in a manual, part of a checklist or built into software applications.

Rules incorporated into the code of software applications are relatively easy to build and highly effective.  One of the most difficult procedures to successfully implement, however, is document archiving.  When is a document the final final version and where should it be archived?  Making this decision and process easy should be every companies goal, but where to begin?

The first step is to make sure you simplify and standardize the archive hierarchy.  Consolidate the silos of documents into one, organized repository.  This should be separate and distinct from your active working directories or silos.  For instance, users are going to keep active spreadsheets or Word files on their local drive, in the shared drive or out in a collaboration tool.  Let those silos be for now.  Get the archive repository set and organized.

Next, make sure that where possible, collaboration tools can push content directly into the archive.  This might require apps or using APIs to facilitate the transfer and to guide users to select the right archive location.   Ideally the app and machine learning can help with this task by using the current file location to give clues to the proper archive location.  If possible, the transfer of the file can start a workflow that accomplishes tasks and has the benefit of archiving any attached documents upon completion.

Active files stored on a shared network drive or in one of the cloud storage solutions is a bit more of a challenge.  The files most likely already exist in some file folder structure.  When the user is done, its just assumed the file is complete – job over.  But the reality is that users could use a gentle reminder every week or so that files have been untouched for say 60 days and therefore, might be final final.  That reminder should make it easy to migrate the document to the correct location. 

There is a lot of effort being spent on making the collaboration on work easy.  A similar level of effort should be spent on making the transition of the results of that collaboration into an archive system easy also.  Soon enough, tag and push will be as common place as drag and drop.

Millennia Group has simplified document management through FileStar, a robust yet easy to use SaaS model workflow and document management system.  For more information,, or (630) 279-0577.

Should power users drive the bus?

via Flickr - Ian DickWithout a doubt you have come across business or personal applications that are not easy to use.  Business applications in particular can be less intuitive because of the complexity of the tasks required.  But that complexity may be due to over-engineering.  We have all heard of the less is more concept.  But in software, less isn’t really less, its just essential. 

There are always situations where one user wants another function or feature.  The trick is to identify the essential functions and help power users understand approaches to solving unique tasks.  When the tasks are performed frequently but by a few users or less frequently but by many users, the solution should support those tasks very well.  Here are some things to think about to select a solution that nails the essential functions and supports the power user.

The most important aspect of choosing a solution is defining exactly what problems or tasks the solution is needed for.  If the requirement is ensuring that users have a trusted source of customer contracts or employee documentation, then the solution needs to have features and functions that achieve that result.  A trusted source of critical documents doesn’t really need a feature to track the popularity trends of a document.  It really needs a feature to ensure the document is properly cataloged and stored. 

Determine the frequency of the tasks being performed.  The 10% rule should apply here.  If one person in the company has a specific task that they need the application to help them accomplish, don’t select the winner based on that.  Look at other ways to accomplish that task – there will be other ways.  Really hone in on the tasks that get done day in and day out and how well the application satisfies those tasks.

Understand your own company culture and language.  There are likely some applications that have navigation based on words commonplace to your industry or company.  If applications can tailor the toolbar descriptions or navigation to use familiar terminology, that will make the application easy for your users.  If the application can’t do that, look for applications that already service other companies in your industry, they have probably already tackled that issue.

There is a need to ensure flexibility in an application to support the power users.  But that does not mean there needs to be a built-in feature for every eventuality.  Make sure the application has easy to use data exporting.  At the very least, if your power users can export the data, they will find a way to customize that data and connect with other data to accomplish their task.  If the data is locked up in the application, that restricts use and flexibility. 

Power users are inherently creative and industrious and will be able to efficient pull a little from here and take a little from there and get the result they need.  If that need starts to be a daily need or weekly across many users and the demand for a more efficient way is justified, communicate that with the solution provider and see what can be accomplished.  Let the daily users drive the bus.

Millennia Group has been providing an easy to use, focused workflow and document management solution since 1996.,

I admit, machines are smarter than me

Image via www.vpnsrus.comMachines are smarter than me, at least after some smart people have told it what to think and since it is continually trained to get smarter.  Maybe that computer really isn’t smarter than me, but it certainly has a better memory.  In the context of our current lives, that translates into not forgetting passwords and never forgetting where I saved that file on the network.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are all the rage in most industries, including the document management industry.  There is a convergence of systems offering auto-classification and indexing of your files.  Tagging the file with information that someone can use to find it later and dropping the file in some deep folder structure and forgetting where that was might go away.  That seems like a smart approach and deserves some investigation.

There are a variety of ways to look at the auto-classification of files but the ultimate goals would be to make saving a file simple and finding a file reliable.  There is no doubt that eliminating the need to tag or add meta data to a file before saving it is a time saver.  Its also a time saver if the file, like an inbound invoice, could be identified as an invoice, auto start a workflow and automatically fill in the invoice number, date, vendor and amount.  That’s very smart.

Clearly if users don’t need to remember where files are stored to reliably find them later, that is a time saver too.  Think of all the times that you have spent clicking through endless folders to find some file or doing a keyword search, again and again.  If the classification rules and machines are smart enough, you will never need to worry how cohorts are saving files.  You will always find the information you need.

There are a few things to consider before adopting this type of solution.  First, it will not work as well with documents that are being added to the repository via scanning.  The OCR engines are still not 100% accurate and it can cause some hiccups.  Second, cost may become an issue for some companies.  Until this is a common feature across the industry, it will be costly to implement.  Third, the technology works best if used on consistent data sets.  For instance, the AI engine knows that all inbound documents are invoices and therefore can be highly tuned.

This is a very exciting solution for the document management industry.  Over time it will become common place.  In the meantime, it could work very well in certain circumstances and should be explored.  Of course, thorough testing is needed on your specific data and use case.  In the meantime, continue to look for efficiencies in your current approach, including workflows, smart tagging and user training.  These are also very smart, and in most cases affordable solutions.

Millennia Group has been providing workflow and document management solutions since 1996.  For more information visit or send an email to

Support your local decision maker

via Flickr, Andy FoggHard as we all try, we are human and we make mistakes.  When these mistakes take the form of data entry errors, it can range from being an annoyance all the way to a full-fledged disaster.  Products get shipped to the wrong address, billing errors occur, critical dates are missed and so on.

Data entry into a “system”; an accounting system, CRM, ERP or any type of database or spreadsheet, feeds information to many users.  Therefore, it is important to do whatever it takes to ensure accurate information is captured and the wrong information is not magnified across many decision makers.  Here are some simple methods to support those decision makers and help them avoid costly mistakes. 

Where possible, you can require double entry of key information and the entries must match to confirm.  This is typical for data such as social security numbers, phone numbers and order numbers.  You can use workflow to force a review step of the data.  A second set of eyes can help prevent errors.  Forcing users to select only from an approved list or having some data validated against outside information can also help. There are many methods to try to avoid mistakes as data enters the system, but none are perfect.

It is common to find a document as the source of the data for many transactions.  You can support your local decision maker by enhancing their system with a link from the system directly to the source document.  Even with all the preventative options available, providing a link to the source document(s) so the user can quickly confirm the information, is a valuable tool to prevent mistakes. 

If the user is preparing to ship the order, they should be able to quickly confirm by viewing the Delivery Information Form provided by the customer.  If the user is billing a new tenant for the first time, they should open the actual lease document to double check.  If the user wants to avoid missing the renewal date, they should view the actual contract to confirm the true effective date. 

Image enabling a system, as that document link is called, can be achieved in almost any situation.  It does help if the system software is current.  It also helps if that system software is cloud based.  If you aren’t currently scanning your critical documents, this a great reason to start.  If you are and can get your document management system to be the source of the link, your decision makers will Thank You.

Millennia Group built and hosts FileStar, a workflow and document management system.  For more information you can contact us at, or (630) 279-0577.

And the answer is…

via Flickr Terry JohnstonHere’s a situation that is probably familiar to many.  The company you work for has a database or some type of online application that contains information on your customers; CRM, accounting system, ERP, etc.  The customer calls and has a question.  It appears that some information was entered into the “system” but from experience, you know to double check.

The double check usually involves pulling up the original documentation. This lack of trust is not entirely unfounded nor irrational.  There are many unintentional mistakes made when doing data input or possibly mis-interpretation of terms.  What is the best way to ensure your employees always find out what the real answer is?

The beauty of having information in a database rather than in a document format is research for sales, marketing, compliance or reporting purposes.  How many contracts do we have that expire in the next 90 days or how many contracts do we have where the customer is NAICS code 99999?  That is impossible to do if all you had was a filing cabinet or even with a powerful document management system.  A database is needed.

Processes are being developed to incorporate the terms of a transaction that are captured in a CRM during contract negotiation, for instance, and then directly into a final version of a template document.  That might help cut down on some input mistakes, but what if changes were made on the execution copy of the document? That issue alone may forever instill mistrust in the “system” and prolong the need for the double check.

Smart contracts based on blockchain hold some promise in that there really isn’t a document.  The transaction is memorialized by data and information captured in a database – a blockchain structured database.  The whole idea behind blockchain is that the distributed and replicated nature of the data renders the data unchangeable and therefore a form of contract.  However, that also means everyone knows there was a transaction, which has its own downside.

One of the main drivers of value for any good document management system is in providing anytime/anywhere access to documents so employees can quickly pull up the original document and confirm the answer.  This is a vast improvement over paper files which are slower to retrieve and restrict multi-location growth.  The other value driver for a good document management system is in providing trusted access to the documents via input validation.  Make sure in-bound documents go through some review or require matching to your “system”.  That is where the real value is and where the best answers come from. 

Millennia Group has been providing workflow and document management solutions since 1996.  Contact us at, or (630) 279-057

Does Sears have a good idea?

Via Flickr - Mikeg44311According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2016 and 2026 about 90% of job growth will be in service producing industries.  Sears is embarking on what might be a crazy idea that they can revive their retail model by making the stores smaller and what looks like increasing the level of service or service offerings related to what they sell.  Is this where the new jobs will come from, purchasers getting more service?

The U.S. BOL stats indicate that the number two jobs creator will be in Professional and Business Services and number 12 will be Information, including data processing and hosting.  Business software providers must fit into one of those two categories.  However, software providers, like Retailers, can suffer from a purchase decision based primarily on cost and functionality.  Should software firms follow Sears formula and not only provide technology but provide service?

There are software solutions in abundance for virtually all business needs.  After price and functionality comparisons there will still be many viable solutions available.  Will service become a more important contributor to the decision? It’s important to evaluate and value the service that’s needed to ensure your software meets company needs for a given time period.  But service is not an easy component of the purchase decision to put a value on.    

Service value may be a function of the several factors.  How critical is the up time for a particular software to the functioning of the company and its daily operations?  Does the software have many users or is it a middleware? Does the software rely on data input from users or data feeds from other applications?  What should be the expectation for ongoing service given your company’s situation, ie. growth mode, changing industry, in-house IT or outsourced? 

The type of software will certainly help frame the computation of service value.  Software providers and their business partners absolutely should focus on providing good, friendly tech support.  That is a no brainer.  Companies should look beyond just help desk and technical service though.  Is there a closely correlated service that is ancillary that can benefit the company.  For instance, a document management software provider also providing data migration or data capture services.

Software providers need to work with their customers to find solutions to business problems.  Those solutions may be functional tweaks to the software, but they can also be value added services that directly compliment the product.  Sears may have a good idea.  It does seem to make sense that the refrigerator eventually is going to need a repair or new video doorbell might need installation.

Millennia Group has been providing workflow and document management solutions and services since 1996.  For more information –,, (630) 279-0577.

The Ideal plan may not seem ideal

The prospect of getting a company to change a long established process is difficult, especially when that process touches multiple departments.  That should not discourage technology solution providers and businesses from having the confidence to make well thought-out ideas happen, even if seemingly idealistic. 

Despite excellent planning, some hurdles will take a long time to clear.  One or two parts of the plan may need to slip into a later phase.  Creating a plan that needs to deviate from the ideal solution in the short term may be disappointing, but could it be the ideal plan in the end?

Using a phased approach is common when implementing big corporate wide applications.  ERP implementations come to mind where the initial phase might include rolling out the accounting module then subsequent phases add the CRM module, then the inventory module and so on.  With workflow, there might be phased inclusion of departments in the digital process based on integration hurdles.

Think about a new customer onboarding workflow.  The workflow may start in the Sales department with the receipt of a signed contract.  Then that workflow may travel through the credit department, the accounting department, the compliance department and maybe even the IT department.  Throughout the process these departments are contributing to or consuming information from the workflow.  Those touch points or interactions become the hurdles.

Are all contributors of information inside the company where adoption of the solution is mandatory?  Are all users able to consume information in the same format that they are currently used to?  The goal will be to setup the workflow with the anticipation that integrations will be completed and the ideal solution accomplished.  However, some aspects may initially need to be more practical then sleek.

Create a scenario where the end result will produce tangible, significant benefits but also have a high degree of probability that it will get implemented.  Find ways to make the process achievable today while flexible to convert to the preferred process in a later phase.  Make sure the ideal solution is not too idealistic and you will get measurable positive results sooner.

Millennia Group has been providing workflow and document management solutions since 1996.  For more information visit or contact us at

Are any of us on the same page?

Via Flickr - Aaron FulkersonIt’s not news that every industry has a set of unique acronyms for describing processes, requirements, features, etc.  As long as people participating in a conversation sprinkled with these acronyms are from that industry, it’s a good bet everyone understands.  Except for the newbie of course.

However, there are plenty of acronyms, words or descriptions that can be a bit too general, which leads to mis-understanding and likely, wasted time.  For instance, when doing a Google search for “workflow systems”, the results come back with 452,000 hits to search through.  Just so we are on the same page, let’s try to narrow the definition of workflow a little to save us all a lot of time and money.

Let’s start by looking at what business problem is being solved with the workflow.  When the problem is a data entry problem, then forms are a great solution.  The ability to create an online form that has fields for user-based data entry is a very efficient method.  It’s also very effective because logic and data validation can be used to ensure that the data is clean, ie. the SSN is the correct number of characters.  So – Forms Workflow to collect data only and route that data to the right people for decisions and processing.

Another business problem is that some processes involve multiple forms of input, such as some data and some documents.  Not all business processes can be initiated by keying in data only.  Some data will be a contract or a spreadsheet or a schematic.  The workflow could be started by a user uploading the supporting documentation for a journal entry for instance.  We term this type of process as Package Workflow (11,400 results).  It is a package of documents and data that need to be routed for approval.

Then there is Document Workflow (455,000 results) specifically for creating the document in the first place.  Document Workflow is all about gathering the right terms and conditions, building a draft and routing that information to internal and external parties for comment and eventually approval and execution (possibly via digital signature – another workflow type – 15,800 results).

Tightening up the definition of workflow will save time in many ways.  Better definitions will cut down research time.  Better alignment of solutions to need should improve implementation time.  Of course, the ultimate goal should be improved efficiency for users, which will be the product of everyone being on the same page.

Millennia Group has been providing Package Workflow and Document Management Solutions since 1996.  For more information –, or (630) 279-0577.

Steps in the right direction

via Flickr - Tim J KeeganHere are some tips for getting your company or personal electronic files and documents better organized in 2019.  These tips will really make life easier if you are currently storing your company files and documents on a network drive or you use a document management system but never really configured it for your business.

  1. If you have a document management system, don’t let files and documents get uploaded without a minimum amount of meta data (descriptions) being associated with each file.  This goes for folder based systems as well where users just drop files into the folders.  For instance, have all client folders auto-generated based on a list from your accounting system or all prospect folders auto-generated from your CRM.  Don’t let users create their own hierarchy or folder structure – take control of it and tie it to your core business lists.  Use drop down lists instead of allowing free form entry and always make some fields “required” on upload.
  2. Implement workflows for all processes that currently use paper or email for routing and approving documents, especially where decisions are supported by one or more documents.  Use your document management system, CRM or any other solution, just stop using email and file folders.
  3. Less options for searching and adding documents is usually better than more.  Try to limit search options to five or six data points.  This generally provides users with a small enough set of results that they can quickly and efficiently determine which document they need.  Don’t try to give them every possible search field with a goal to get a single document in the search results.  That will slow down the process as the users get zero hits time after time.  Try providing just enough search fields that they get 10-15 items in the results, an easy number of items to quickly scan for the right one.
  4. It’s helpful to include both common names and account numbers or ID’s in all naming conventions for files and folders.  Some users gravitate to numbers or ID’s and some will function best based on common names like a building name, client name or product name. Either way, grouping and sorting will be aided by having both available and this ties in with number 1 above.  Data needs to be consistently applied.
  5. Implement a true document management system and wherever possible integrate other applications with it so that it becomes the document warehouse.  Other applications can feed documents into it and pull documents from it via an integrated application interface.  Implement a web based document management system.  In today’s world, companies are utilizing more third party services that are an extension of the business and therefore, need to share information and be part of workflows.  This is best accomplished by a web based solution that lets users in from outside the firewall.

These are Millennia Group’s top five tips.  We could go on for many more items with other suggestions, but these are high level and will generate positive results.  Of course, with any changes, there will be resistance and learning curves to address.  Get prepared before making recommendations.  Have specific examples of current frustrations and new solutions and benefits.  Repeat the benefits 10 times – that always helps.  Then, get it done and enjoy the improved access to information, increased efficiency and happy users.

Millennia Group is a workflow and document management solutions provider with over 20 years of experience.  For more information visit or contact us at

We feel guilty about tiny workspaces

via Flickr - BakokoThe open office concept is all the rage, both at work and on Wall Street.  It is not only being executed in corporate offices but there is a booming industry of shared office space startups that take open office to a whole new level.  These spaces do have some intriguing features like comfortable common areas to gather and in the case of shared office spaces like WeWork, beer on tap.

However, we have also seen the demoralizingly small workspaces at some companies and we hear the grumblings of workers about a lack of privacy and inability to focus.  We are not owners of office buildings, nor space designers.  We are, however, somewhat responsible for this phenomenon because we provide the tools that have enabled this to happen – workflow and document management.  We do feel a little guilty, but enabling tiny workspaces isn’t the whole story.

It is true that the reduction in cubicle size has dropped significantly due to the fact that each employee no longer requires file cabinets for document storage.  Desktops have shrunk since they aren’t stacked high with folders containing papers that need to be approved and signed.  In fact, your desk may not even be Your desk anymore, its just a desk that can be reserved by the employee that came into the office that day.

On the flip side, a well configured document management system means documents can be accessed within seconds.  No more hunting around the office for a missing document.  No more standing over the copier for an hour because the auditors need supporting documents ASAP.  No more wondering if the partially executed document that you did find in your desk is the best version available.  There is plenty of good that has come from electronic document management.

Far more good and efficiency has resulted from the implementation of document workflows.  Folders don’t need to be circulated around the office for approvals.  Unmanageable email based approvals, where nobody knows who dropped the ball, are a thing of the past.  Organized, trackable, reportable and mobile workflows have transformed how businesses function.  Growth and profitability have accelerated due to expanded operational flexibility and control.

Yes, we do feel a little guilty for those employees that find themselves in less than ideal work environments.  But at the same time, those employees can thank workflow and document management providers for eliminating a lot of daily frustration and wasted time.  We won’t feel guilty when you can solve a big customers problem from your couch on a Saturday during the big game.

Millennia Group provides workflow and document management solutions to businesses that are ready for a change.  Contact us at, or (630) 279-0577.