Digitizing Paper-Based Processes

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

Digitizing processes can be very difficult. Tools have for a long time helped us gain efficiencies and in many cases, those tools have shaped our procedures. Instead of simply being used to accelerate our efforts, they sometimes become part of the process itself. This is true of paper-based processes.

Forms & Workflows

Forms and documents are not only part of the process; they are the process. For this reason, they can be difficult to digitize. In the digital space, we often hear of countless forms and workflow solutions. My team and I have implemented hundreds of forms and workflow solutions, so much so, that we came to realize that in many cases forms often are workflows. If that’s the case, why are we still fighting with digital solutions to separate forms from workflows? [Source]

Business Process Modeling

I believe that part of the issue comes from technologists. As we technologists create solutions such as Business Process Modeling (BPM) systems, we like to think of all the efficiencies that a technical system can have over manual processes. As such, we create systems with modularity, fragmentization, and reuse in mind. By doing so, we also create systems that attempt to handle digital processes differently than their physical counterparts. This can not only make it difficult to “convert” physical processes to digital ones, but it can also slow down the transformation and adoption of those systems.

My recommendation? If you are looking at implementing a BPM tool, look for tools that can support a certain amount of complexity, but do not try to implement a solution that can replicate even the most complex process. Some processes will require a certain amount of restructuration in order to be digitized, be mindful, and accept that this may be the case. Look for a tool that perhaps supports some customizations, but more importantly, look for a simple tool! In an ever-changing world, metrics such as time to value, flexibility, and change velocity will likely trump tailor-made digital processes that take an enormous amount of effort and time to implement.

I am an experienced technology professional with over 10 years of technical experience as an analyst, lead developer, architect, and director.