Enhancing document production processes with workflow management software

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Steve Newton

A look at the key features of workflow management software and the range of benefits it can deliver to an organisation, particularly when it is integrated with a digital dictation solution.

Enhancing document production processes with workflow management software
Enhancing document production processes with workflow management software

All organisations undertake a range of tasks and processes in order to achieve specific goals, and there is constant pressure to improve the speed and efficiency with which they are completed.

This is where workflow management comes into its own, since it focuses on streamlining the tasks and processes and automating them where appropriate. It does so by identifying, organising and co-ordinating them in such a way that bottlenecks and errors are eliminated and the desired results are produced as smoothly and effectively as possible.

Importantly, it also identifies the employees who are responsible for undertaking specific tasks within the workflow.

Typically, an individual or group is responsible for, or assigned a task for each stage of the workflow. Once this task has been completed, workflow management software makes sure that the person responsible for the next stage is notified and receives the data or content they need to execute their assigned task in that particular stage of the process.

So, in a nutshell, workflow software allows organisations to define and control the routine, repeatable activities associated with their business processes. It does this by establishing:

  • What needs to be done.
  • When it needs to be done.
  • How it needs to be done.
  • Who needs to do it.

The key components of any workflow are inputs, transformation and outputs, with the tasks associated for each of these performed in a sequential manner to achieve the desired end goal. For example, a procurement process is made up of workflows for purchase requisition, purchase order, and invoice processing. Each of these individual workflows, in turn is made up of several tasks such as creation, review, approval and ultimately routing the resultant document or file through to the next process.

Benefits

Some of the key benefits of using workflow management software are:

  • Tasks are standardised to ensure that they are completed in the same correct manner every time.
  • Connectivity and communications between employees are streamlined.
  • Redundant manual tasks are eliminated.
  • Efficiency across workflows is enhanced, whilst the removal of bottlenecks helps to improve productivity.

Why integrate digital dictation with workflow software?

Effective document creation is a key requirement for organisations in all sectors, from professional services and healthcare through to construction and local government. For many, the use of digital dictation provides a convenient and time saving way of creating the initial draft of a document. However, there are a number of subsequent steps that need to be taken, including transcription, proof reading, editing and approval, before the document production process is complete.

Integrating digital dictation with workflow management software is a tried and tested solution for ensuring that all of these tasks are as simple and efficient as possible. And as many workflow solutions are now commonly offered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, this integration aspect is easier than ever.

The result is that an author can dictate the document they need creating and the workflow software automatically collects and routes the dictation through to a pre-defined destination, such as an internal support team or an external transcriptionist. Importantly, with the growing trend to work from home or on the move, all of this can be carried out remotely.

The support staff can immediately see a clear view of all jobs awaiting completion, meaning that they can prioritise work and ensure deadlines are met.

And workflow can go further by including a sign-off feature that enables documents to be authorised remotely, allowing them to progress automatically to the next stage of the workflow without the author/manager needing to be present in the office.

Another important aspect of many workflow solutions is that they offer clear version control and audit trails, meaning it’s possible to track the version history every time a document is changed and maintain each version along with an auditable trail of changes from the time a document is created to its final released version.

So, the integration of digital dictation and workflow really can have a significant impact upon the entire document production cycle, from initial dictation through to final approval, by speeding up the process, making it more efficient and ultimately, providing valuable control information for the completed document.

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