Dreaming of Paperless Processes

I joined Kiefer Consulting after a 12-year career in the office equipment industry. In the 12 years that I sold and marketed multifunctional devices (copiers and printers), we promoted the idea of the “paperless office”. It seems odd that a company that sold output devices would be interested in talking about going paperless, but it was something that many clients of ours had been curious about. We were encouraging clients to look at the advanced features of the devices we sold and to consider technologies like “scan to e-mail”. The industry was also heavily invested in workflow optimization and content management.

At the beginning of 2020, we were closer to the “paperless office” than we were in 2002, but we were nowhere close eliminating paper in the workplace. In March, many of us went to work from our homes. Many people did not have printers or scanners at home, so people became less dependent upon printed documents and found themselves referencing digital versions of documents. According to Gartner, remote work has resulted in a 40% reduction in print in the first half of 2020.

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In addition, we have seen paper dependent processes being revaluated and replaced by digital workflows. Over the last years we have witnessed organizations struggle with paper-based processes that proved inefficient when reviewers and approvers were working remotely and distributed.

Better Processes / Less Paper

Kiefer has a team of digital transformation experts. We have proven that it is possible to replace manual and paper-based processes with technology. We have help organizations in automating parts of a processes and we have helped organizations optimize processes from end-to-end. It is also important to note that many of the processes that we have optimized have been improved by leveraging technology that the customer already owns. The capabilities of Microsoft 365 often go underutilized and our team can help you get the most out of your investment in Microsoft 365.

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One tool in Microsoft 365 that is positioned well to help clients improve processes is Microsoft Power Automate. Power Automate is a low-code automation solution that can be used to rapidly build and deploy automation solutions at scale. The best part about Power Automate, is that users closest to the problem can use the low-code automation tool to optimize the processes that impact them. In the past, automating processes as an IT consideration and the tools to automate workflow were expensive and complicated. Power Automate changed that.

Over the last year, we have introduced several clients to Power Automate and the capabilities of the application. We have found that Power Automate was helpful in keeping processes moving and was the ideal solution to transform legacy paper-based and manual processes. Power Automate allowed organizations to pivot, build, and rapidly deploy an improved solution for critical business processes.

Improving Processes and Measuring Success

Microsoft’s Power Platform brings another useful tool to workflow automation, metrics.

Client: “We would like to reduce the amount of time it takes to process X by 20%”

Kiefer: “How long does it take to process X today?”

We like specific and measurable goals. The problem is this. It is common for organizations to not know exactly how long the process takes today, without automation. It is also common to see huge variance in in the length of the process (beginning to end) because the process hinges on notifications, approvals, or may be dependent upon the manual routing of information.

Microsoft Power BI can be used in conjunction with Power Automate to evaluate process efficiency. With Power BI, dashboards can help organizations quickly identify bottlenecks in the process and offer insights that will help to further improve the process.

Next Steps

If you…

  • have slow paper-based processes
  • are tired of sluggish manual processes that require the physical routing of documents
  • can’t clearly identify how long a process takes, but you know it’s too long
  • have tools like Power Automate and Power BI but just aren’t sure how to use them

 Contact us. We can talk about how to leverage tools and create a culture of efficiency.

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