Covid-19 means we can no longer postpone digitisation

The pandemic has made digital business processes an urgent requirement, argues Dan Wajzner of Document Logistix, which poses challenges for culture change, speed of implementation and data migration

Would you like to digitise business processes but have too many paper-based or manual systems? Data migration or integration making digitisation appear too complicated to achieve? Current company culture only permits slow change? Let's examine some examples of digital upgrade or transformation that were achieved successfully mid-pandemic.

According to a McKinsey Global Survey, during the pandemic companies accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years. The urgent objectives included: building business resilience, empowering remote staff and suppliers, providing workflow visibility, and eliminating inefficiency associated with manual processes.

In short, digitisation became a necessity overnight and technology rose in strategic importance as a critical component of the business, not just as a source of cost efficiencies. The keys to streamlined digital business are data centralisation and automation that enable organisations to embed best practice as well as the safeguards that eliminate compliance risks.

Scottish housing organisation Hillcrest successfully implemented comprehensive digital processes in Accounts departments across its four businesses in a quarter of the time usually allotted. The pandemic stimulated thinking about business agility and Hillcrest prioritised its plans to upgrade its digital document management, which had been used in the business for ten years, as a means to enhance operations. Among the Hillcrest project goals were integration with QL Finance and implementing an intelligent OCR solution to capture data contained in 50,000 invoices processed annually.

Historical payment processes created issues such as bottlenecks at every stage, for longer than Hillcrest would have wished. Bottlenecks in turn generated repetition and duplication that led to unproductive communication to resolve issues that could have been avoided. Other historical pitfalls resulted from the proliferation of multiple image and document types.

As for many companies, the Covid-19 outbreak caused business disruption at Hillcrest and remote working exacerbated any process inefficiencies. Automation became a high priority and was viewed as a sprint project. Managed speed was of the essence. Tim Cowell, Document Logistix CIO, wanted to put on record his appreciation of the effort everyone put into the project. "Both teams played vital roles in making this project a success. It's been a while since I enjoyed a project that was both a technical challenge and such a pleasure. I am looking forward to working on further enhancements to introduce automation in more business processes."

The usual way to move data from one business to another in insurance is to migrate products and policies at renewal time, which can take about eighteen months to complete. However, following a merger with Co-op Insurance, Markerstudy opted for a one-hit, big bang approach. The Markerstudy Project Manager described the project as 'career defining': "We lived and breathed the project, and there were legal deadlines and regulatory mandates to be fulfilled." No surprise then that, after migrating 40 million Co-op customer correspondence records (9 TB) working remotely during lock-down, the Markerstudy team exclaimed with delight: "We did it!"

Avara Foods eliminated tonnes of paper from their daily operations and streamlined HR to manage 500,000 documents and allow for remote working. This video - - is an invaluable watch for any organisation starting from scratch or considering the next steps in their digital transformation journey.

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