Let’s face it: the document problem just isn’t going to go away this year. It didn’t get resolved this year or the year before, or the decade before. As we enter this new year, organizations will still struggle with documents, but with added pain: the addition of the digital worker.

The popularity and momentum of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) adds a new layer of complexity to the problem, and organizations with a hybrid human-digital workforce require flexible, accurate document intelligence solutions that can serve both types of workers.

Process automation applications, like RPA, create a new category of opportunities for efficiency and productivity improvement: incremental automation. When we examine any document process, each touch, action or review by a worker is lost time, a lapse in productivity and a hit to an organization’s overall efficiency. If we can methodically find the document processing chokepoints for both physical and digital workers, and eliminate them one by one, the sum of those incremental improvements can be massive. How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.

How can we find these opportunities for incremental process automation? Here are some tips on identifying red flags in both your physical and digital processes.

High Volume Document Flow – Every department in an organization receives documents in some way, shape or form during the business day. Whether these documents are physical (mailroom) or digital (email, uploads, etc.), areas of high document flow are always excellent targets for automation. Opportunity: Documents can be classified and routed automatically to the correct destination.

Manual Data Entry – Anywhere in the organization where document data is manually entered into a system of record or document repository is a prime target. Even the smallest of opportunities can have a massive impact when spread out throughout multiple departments. Take the administrator who spends an hour every day keying information from email attachments. If that is being done by 5, 10 or 20 workers in an organization, the hours – and inefficiency – add up. Opportunity: Data can be auto-extracted and placed in any system.

Manual Sorting/Splitting – Sorting and splitting documents is a massive time waster. Take for example a PDF that houses three documents. The time and effort to split, save and rename even at low volume can consume precious hours. Opportunity: Documents can be automatically split, named and saved.

Data/Document Validation – As documents and their associated data flow in, it can take specialized workers to ensure proper data, and validate that it is correct. Errors that pass through to end-systems can be costly. Opportunity: Automated validation and exceptions processing can focus users on only those documents that need attention.

These are just a few ways to identify those physical and digital processes that are key targets for incremental automation. When will you automate?

For more reading:

Incremental Document Automation with APIs

Pervasive Capture: The New Age of Efficiency

OCR for RPA: Document-Aware Robots