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Slipshod document governance the sole of poor profit

By Richard Pinker, MD of Ricoh SA.

Richard Pinker, MD of Ricoh SA.

Richard Pinker, MD of Ricoh SA.

We have recently released a four-part series of stories based on the Ricoh Document Governance Index 2012 research, conducted on behalf of Ricoh Europe, by Coleman Parkes, and they relate some of the key document governance issues business face today.

The report was compiled from 1 075 interviews with C-level executives, directors and other employees in Europe and investigates how document processes – the processes that keep employees on board, cash flowing, and legal requirements satisfied – are being managed, then compares the findings with a benchmark set in 2009, says Richard Pinker, MD of Ricoh SA.

Big data, big issues

One of the major global trends impacting business operations is big data, since 91% of respondents to the report cited increasing amounts of data as having the most impact on their ability to manage critical processes in their businesses. That reduces focus and resources they have available for other revenue-generating activities. Managing multiple vendors and high growth economies have created more data, which employees must manage.

In just three years, European businesses have replaced their focus on cost, efficiency and the environment, with a focus on business risk. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they have now set targets for business risk in relation to their business-critical document processes, nearly four times as many as in 2009. The importance of transparency with overall business goals was also highlighted, as 64% of respondents said they set targets for processes to be aligned with overall business goals, compared with just 15% in 2009 who confirmed the same.

The focus for European businesses three years ago was basic cost and efficiency. Sixty-seven percent of businesses then set targets for costs and 59% for efficiency, compared with 43% and 51% today. Environmental sustainability also appears to have been neglected by today’s businesses as they struggle to manage increasing amounts of data, multiple vendors and emerging markets, as only 33% of businesses have set targets for it.

Legacy systems stymy document efficiencies

Back-office legacy systems are holding back 79% of European businesses from fully streamlining their business-critical document processes. That is despite the majority recognising the transformational power of new technologies to help them be more agile in fast-changing markets. European businesses say that new devices such as smartphones and tablets are helping them manage their business-critical document processes, but the majority are unable to maximise the technologies because their back-end systems can’t fully support them.

Technology-driven change will continue, and with it bring new ways of working and communicating, and they will need to fully integrate the front- and back-office, connect people with information, and enable seamless collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

Many businesses are also confused about how to best use the cloud. While 70% of European businesses are using the cloud to enable mobile access to document processes, only 50% believe it is making their document process management easier and that highlights a lack of planning.

Outdated working practices hold employees back

European businesses find it a challenge to keep up with the pace of technology-led change. The vast majority of employees, 82%, feel the way they work is outdated and prevents them from being as effective and efficient as they could be, which impacts on their ability to grow revenue and profit and support their client needs in the future.

More than 90% of C-level executives, however, say employee feedback is gathered regularly and training provided when new hardware or software is introduced, with far fewer employees agreeing: just 77% agreed their feedback is gathered and only 76% say they receive training. People are at the core of any organisation and businesses must re-establish the prominence of change management or risk alienating employees from decisions they take and thereby undermine any return on investments.

Four document process fixes that solve customer service issues

Top risks in outdated document processes include risk from compliance and data leaks; poor information sharing; environmental sustainability; and poor efficiencies resulting in slower customer responses.

How do businesses resolve the problems? They need to better connect their processes seamlessly with technology and employees, and ensure projects are led from the top; businesses must rely on experts to draw the pieces of the puzzle together in combination; employee consultation must receive greater prominence and their experience, knowledge and expertise mined; and they must maintain ongoing governance and improvement processes.

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Scarlet Letter
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