What does it take to get stuff done? In a busy company, where staff can be widely distributed across departments and geography, providing a customer with the best possible experience throughout the life cycle of sales and support requires a professional staff, efficient coordination of processes, and access to the data and documents that give each internal stakeholder all the information they need to understand where the customer has been and what services they need now.
You’ve probably experienced this problem before: you call a company on their toll-free number with a service issue. The friendly representative listens to you and promises resolution within 24 hours. The next day, the problem is not resolved. You speak to another representative, who asks you the same questions and communicates the same promises. There’s no collaboration, and no recognition of the steps taken the day before. It doesn’t feel very good, does it?
Cross-Functional Communication Can Be Better
Fortunately, your business can deliver a much higher quality and seamless experience. Whether your sales department needs to communicate with billing or installation, or customer support needs to collaborate with product management, all your employees can be put on the same page. Internal teams will work faster and with greater innovation; customers will receive stellar service and report higher satisfaction with your company. A key step in that process is to make document sharing widely available and convenient for all employees, wherever they are in the office or out in the field.
There’s many ways to share documents, but some of the most common can lead to inefficiencies and even poor quality service.
Fax and mail. These methods are slow, prone to document loss, and can be very problematic when trying to manage rapidly changing information, such as contract revisions, addendums, or urgent customer service issues. Security can also be a significant issue, especially when transmitting forms and contracts containing private personal and financial information.
Email. Commonly used in today’s businesses to exchange documents because of its relatively fast speed of delivery, there remains a risk of loss or deletion of emails, versioning issues, and user errors – such as keeping outdated documents on a local hard drive.
Fortunately, systems are available that take advantage of today’s technology networks to collect documents from across the company, store them in one secure location, and make them available to work teams that are authorized to view and use specific information. The simple act of document sharing has evolved into the simple act of business process automation, helping staff to find the right information at the right time – and helping the business maintain regulatory compliance and support its legal retention policies for specific types of documents created on a routine basis.
Best Practices Become Business Practices
Remember when the best ways to do things were ingrained in the memories of the most creative or longest serving employees, or documented in thick procedure books that went out-of-date with each software upgrade or change in manager?
There’s no need to waste so much time and expense on those procedure manuals and training programs. Now, business processes and document workflows can be easily standardized. Hand-offs between departments can be managed automatically. Employees can annotate documents to record important activity and exception handling. Ownership of a document at a particular time in a sales or service cycle can be assigned to individuals or teams as appropriate. And every action is tracked and monitored to meet even the strictest record keeping and auditing requirements.
It’s like this: in business, rules aren’t made to be broken. Sure, exceptions happen, but the efficient company relies on consistent practices and communication to uphold the integrity of the systems it puts in place and the expectations of its employees and customers. A document management system integrates process across departments, but preserves each business function’s ability to do its job in the most effective manner possible.
Information security is not only a challenge for today’s businesses, it’s something that can lead to serious legal and financial penalty when not taken seriously. In some industries, losing a single laptop with unsecured data can lead to huge fines and even criminal action. Lax security can allow easier access to documents and data by insiders who are intent on committing fraud, such as stealing customer information or proprietary business insight.
That’s why handing off paper manually or sending emails can be a bad idea. Leaving paper on desks or keeping documents open on unattended computer desktops create ideal situations for theft, loss and manipulation of data.
Now imagine that your system administrator can designate and monitor who can view your company’s business files – and when! Think about the additional safety of having documents digitally encrypted when they are stored, making it difficult or impossible to read the files held in the database. And documents can be spread across servers, so even if technology is compromised, there is no single place where a criminal can harvest all your important records.
Working together as a team is about working collaboratively to make the best possible decisions and provide the finest possible experience for all stakeholders. Working together is also about working responsibly, ensuring accountability and security throughout the process. More and more business activities require cross-functional cooperation and a single view of account histories. Document management systems are agile solutions for any company with a desire to coordinate and optimize business processes, improve productivity, and reduce risk.