Benefits of an automated workflow tool

How optimizing your document workflows can make everyone more productive.

May 26, 2021

Article highlights

If you work in a large organization, you know creating and disseminating new policies and procedures can be an arduous task. You write the first draft, share it with appropriate colleagues, make revisions, send it out to others for feedback, get final approvals and sign-offs, and then share it with the entire organization.

Or you get new accreditation requirements from your accrediting organization, so you share those, ensure that everyone has read it, signed it, attended the appropriate training, and completed the self-assessments.

You try to keep track of everything, but when you're managing the process for thousands of people across multiple locations, it can be like herding cats and getting them to sign the right forms.

This is where a document management workflow can greatly reduce the number of hours you spend herding all those cats.

In this article, we'll tell you what a document management workflow does and how it can save you days, weeks, and even months on your training and accreditation efforts.

What is a document management workflow tool?

A workflow is basically a process where data, information, and documents are passed from one person to another for some sort of action.

A document management workflow is a system that sees the creation, editing, approval, storage, sharing, retrieval, and archiving of various policies, procedures, and other content.

So, a document management workflow tool is a piece of software or a platform that allows you to manage every step of that process in a single location. It provides a dashboard to show you the progress and completion of the various documents you're managing and lets you see at a glance where you still need some additional input.

A good document management solution will date/time-stamp documents, keep track of who has edited them, who has read them, and when they've been updated. A better system will even automatically make adjustments to other important areas, like training and accreditation, when updates have been made.

And workflows can make all that happen for you automatically, without trying to keep track of everything on spreadsheets or paper charts.

How workflows benefit you and your organization

Here's an example of where document management workflows can save time, money, and staff resources. Elsewhere on our website, we tell the story of the Newton, Massachusetts police department and their ongoing efforts to prepare for re-accreditation.

Their typical practice was to print out physical copies of new policies and accreditation requirements. They sent them to every bureau and would wait for signed copies to return. If there were any edits based on feedback, the process started all over. It took five people several 60-hour weeks to complete the process as the Newton PD had to pay for overtime, printing, shipping, and storage of their accreditation files.

They saved themselves a lot of time and thousands of dollars by using PowerDMS' automated notifications, file management, and dissemination systems (among other functions), all as part of our workflow system.

Instead of sending out hard copies, they sent out links to the new policies, which were stored online. (No more printing, shipping, or storage.) They could receive feedback and edits, and the changes were made instantly. (No more waiting.) They resent the revised documents (still no printing and shipping), and the system automatically sent reminders if people didn't respond quickly. (No more tracking and emailing.) When the approvals were made electronically (no more paper record keeping), the final policies were shared with everyone in the department automatically. People were able to read the new policies and sign their acceptance. (No more chasing people down to sign.)

That all happened thanks to the custom workflows they built on their own, helping them recover thousands of dollars in wasted money and time.

How you can benefit from document workflows

  • Collaborate, review, and approve documents before they’re published. You can share documents with decision-makers to get the necessary feedback and information to create the final version.
  • Collaborate with stakeholders across departments. If you work in a large organization with several locations, you can all work on the same documents within the same system. No emailing documents back and forth. Everyone can work from the same version, logging into the system from anywhere.
  • Set specific roles so you get the right feedback from the right people. You don't have to grant system-wide access to everyone before you're ready. Create roles that only grant certain levels of access to certain people, and then share preliminary documents with them.
  • Use automatic notifications to track each reviewer/approver or remind them.  

A workflow also helps you hold colleagues accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities. It speeds up communication because you're no longer manually sharing documents. There's no need to manage the traffic flow of documents from person to person, or continually remind people to read and sign documents: An automated workflow handles all of that for you. Learn more about the top features your policy management software should have.

Can you benefit from the PowerDMS workflow tool?

If you want to learn how our workflow tool can help you, schedule a free demo today. We've helped hundreds of organizations save time and money by using workflows on our policy management solution. You can even learn how to do it in less than 7 minutes on our website.

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