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Workflow automation: How printers are solving the paper problem

Michael Nadeau | July 17, 2017
Incorporating paper-based processes into digital workflows may no longer be a roadblock to full automation.

“That’s when we decided to purchase a digital document management system,” says Visva. FST went with DocuShare from Xerox, which had been supplying its copiers. The first phase of the project was to digitize all the paper records it needed to keep and integrate DocuShare with its main systems. ”All our multifunction printers are integrated with DocuShare. All our receptionists have scanners, so when clients come in and sign their forms, they go directly into the file system and our home-grown client management system for case management,” she says.

Now, all documents are searchable and accessible directly from the core applications. Lifecycle management allows them to migrate outdated documents off the system.

Phase 1 was simply setting up a basic digital document management system. Phase 2 is where FST is seeing benefits from automating workflow for its developmental services division, which serves about 3,200 individuals or their families. Those clients purchase services to live independently for which they apply for reimbursement through FST. “We get thousands of invoices and receipts every month. They could be paper, electronic, email or fax,” says Visva. Each family is assigned a barcode that contains basic information about their account and is required to use those bar-coded forms when sending invoices.

All those documents are detected automatically through intelligent recognition software and then relevant information is populated into fields in an e-Form. Rules set up within e-Forms may trigger a process—for example, if the request is over a certain amount it goes to a manager for approval. Any questions that the approver has can be routed back to the worker for answers.

All this happens within the applications that workers use throughout the approval and payment process. “This all used to be paper based. Now it is 100-percent paperless,” says Visva. “We now process clients within two to five business days. It used to take seven to 10 days. At the end of the day, we improved our client experience.”

“It serves our clients better, but I wouldn’t say it costs less [to provide services],” says Visva. “It allows us to put more resources direct service with our clients as opposed to back office tasks. We are more accurate, more responsive.”

FST’s cost so far has been about $300K for phase 1 and $250K to $300K for phase 2, not counting time spent by internal staff. That cost includes different software pieces, scanning of 500 bankers' boxes of paper documents, hosting of the software applications and consulting fees to implement and integrate the system over the last three years.


Productive incremental gains

From a technology and feature perspective, the workflow automation solutions from document imaging vendors might not seem like a big leap over what’s been possible with traditional document management systems coupled with workflow solutions. The value that they offer is in starting the automation at an earlier point in the process where it is the most labor intensive using the familiar copier or MFP as the focal point.


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