Digital transformation has become a fashionable buzzword in recent months, but to my mind it is about targeting specific areas of the organisation to ensure that business processes and standard procedures are adhered to as a matter of routine, which in turn contribute to efficiencies.
From a document management standpoint, it means automating processes and extracting data for business use and application. Take the example of invoices. An organisation may receive invoices in paper and digital formats. With the help of document capture and scanning technology, it is possible to capture all the necessary data from the invoices – e.g. invoice header, line items and totals and upload into the firm’s accounting system for processing, but then also store that data in another business system (e.g. document management) for client reporting, or as needed. Similarly, any matter related information coming in to a firm’s mail room can be scanned, the case numbers from the documents captured and saved into the appropriate areas in the case management system.
These processes when undertaken across departments and even firms’ offices can deliver substantial efficiencies. For instance, a firm could have a policy/SLA requirement that all mail is scanned in a central office, with new matters emailed to fee earners across the multiple offices and departments by 11 am. This would also help enhance a firm’s responsiveness to customers.
Key to note is that a Digital Transformation initiative doesn’t have to be enterprise-wide, right from the word ‘go’, it can be rolled out in stages. To illustrate, for many small to medium sized firms, physical storage is not only costly, it is also difficult to actually sift through the paper to find the information that is needed. This is a good place to start, if embarking on a Digital Transformation exercise. Scanning the files and extracting the important meta data can be put on a backed-up file share, in the first instance. Once digitised, the firm can decide what data should be transferred into the various business systems like document, case and matter management, finance and accounting and so on for current use. The money saved as a result of reduced physical storage – which can be substantial for firms – can be used to re-invest in technology.
Furthermore, with the new GDPR coming into force in May 2018, this kind of digitisation can assist with compliance with the regulation too. An enterprise search tool would be able to determine where the personal data of individuals is held, be it of the firm’s employees or customers.
Fundamentally, Digital Transformation and indeed GDPR compliance need to be ‘business as usual’ activities. They must also be non-intrusive. Pick the areas that are likely to delivers the most impact to the firm, and roll out in order of priority. Undertaken in bite size and gradually, the programme is more likely to be a success.