Let’s be honest: the word “paperwork” carries a pretty negative connotation for most of us. Whether we’re at home doing taxes and dealing with school forms, or at the office, amidst contracts and reports, we generally don’t like it.
Paperwork’s place in the “doghouse” is especially entrenched at work. In Adobe’s “Paper Jam” survey of office workers worldwide, 61 percent said they’d change jobs just to deal with less of it.
That’s a big problem for business, but it begs the question: how much actual paperwork still exists in 2015? Hasn’t it all been digitized? According to the customers we’ve been talking with as we built Adobe Document Cloud, the answers are “a lot” and “no.” In this digital age, they say, paperwork still abounds: it’s the contracts and purchase orders we have to sign, the mock-ups that must be initialed, the expense reports we all love, and it’s much of the stuff we’re spending a fortune overnighting all over the world. These used to be back-office things; now, they’re part and parcel of every workday for many employees.
Until then, documents drive business, but the processes we use to work with them are slow, broken and/or fraught with risk. In short, there’s a “document disconnect” and it has serious, bottom-line repercussions for business—problems that extend far beyond worker frustration and morale.
Those problems are explored in a just-released study by IDC, “The Document Disconnect: Hidden Opportunity, Big Payoff.” IDC surveyed 1,500+ line-of-business leaders, IT leaders, and information workers in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan. The goal was to “assess the effectiveness of their organization’s document-based business processes.”
The bottom-line impact is staggering. Line-of-business execs across sales, HR, procurement, and more estimate that solving their disconnect could yield a 36 percent increase in revenue, a 30 percent reduction in cost, and a 23 percent reduction in business/compliance risk.
Some of the other key findings:
- No business is immune. Think your business is safe? Think again. According to IDC, the document disconnect is “a pervasive problem that affects all functional areas of the organization. Disconnected document processes can be found in every department, and they have a very significant negative impact on the organization.”
- Sometimes, the simple things aren’t. Even “basics” like signatures and dates are a problem, and getting it wrong can be costly. Thirty-six percent of business leaders say they experience problems with “agreements that are missing signatures, initials or dates—or that have been signed by the wrong person.”
- Mobile productivity lags. Just because workers have mobile devices doesn’t mean the devices help them be productive. Almost half say they “often have to wait until they are back at their computer to complete document-based tasks.”
- Customer engagement suffers. These aren’t just “internal problems.” Sixty-three percent of line-of-business leaders say “document process issues negatively impact customer satisfaction.” Almost 80 percent of them say “gaps in automation in their existing systems—and the lack of integration between them–adversely impact the quality of the customer experience they can provide.”
- Disparate technology doesn’t help. Over 80 percent of line-of-business leaders in sales, HR, procurement and more say problems “arise because they have different internal systems/applications that don’t ‘talk’ to each other,” while 43% of workers say they often have to copy/paste or rekey information.
At the individual worker level, Adobe’s “Paper Jam” research and IDC’s study are aligned: according to the former, 55% of office workers feel mundane and inefficient processes distract them from more important tasks, while execs surveyed by IDC say workers spend 36 percent of their time on administrative tasks—and less than two-thirds on their core job function.
You may not care about paperwork. You may think of it as a necessary evil, the cost of doing business. You may think that a paperwork problem, or even a “document disconnect,” is an internal matter only. But the truth is, in our experience—and the IDC research supports this—this is an insidious problem that damages your ability to engage effectively with customers. It is a problem that sucks up revenue, money and time.
You may not care about a document problem, but if your organization wants to stay competitive in a very connected, mobile world, you should—because these are problems that will kill business.