10% of business revenues are typically swallowed up by managing documents. The paperless processing revolution has only just begun! According to Gartner, it will eventually cut costs by 80% and give a massive boost to business productivity. What if you could be among the pioneers to leverage it to foster your business operations and your efficiency?
Deploy new-generation paperless processing solutions, and streamline your information flows, optimize your business processes and fully leverage your information assets, with strong legal protection.
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Interview with Michel Rauche, responsible for the Paperless Processing offering in Bull International and Business Development
What are the big challenges involved in paperless processing?
Now, more than ever before, business information is at the heart of every organization. So computerizing processes is a way to speed up productivity. An employee typically spends 20% of his or her time looking for information. It’s also a way to optimize operational processes, both internal and external (managing customer, HR or user files, processing invoices…). The economic impact is huge. So, for example, if it costs €10 to process a paper invoice, it might only be €3 for an electronic invoice… Add to this all the challenge of archiving, whether to meet the demands of the business (to protect its information assets) or of the regulatory authorities. When an enquiry is made or a matter is contested, the business must be in a position to provide historical data, justifying the rights and obligations of physical or moral persons or entities, whether public or private. Computerizing business processes is at the very heart of these issues. It’s nothing new. We’ve been talking about it for a long time now. However, if the dawn of the Internet age was marked by the advent of the concept of ‘paperless processing’ (with the first of the large-scale on-line systems such as submission of income tax and VAT returns, an area where Bull has been one of the major players) and archiving, the market is now on the verge of a second phase. Now it’s all about optimizing the information life cycle, with close links to business processes. The challenge is to move on from ‘Scan to Archive’ towards ‘Scan to Process’. It’s a whole new, fundamental stage in our transition to digital.
What is seen as best practice in this new phase of computerized processes?
You might believe that computerizing business processes is essentially a ‘technical’ undertaking: electronic document management, storage, archiving… But it would really be a mistake to approach the subject from this point of view. The aim is not to replicate processes from the paper era in digital form. They have to be reinvented, to create new, more efficient and effective ways of doing things. Embarking on a computerization project is about tackling ‘three projects in one’: and IT/infrastructure project, of course; but also, and above all, a business optimization project and a project that supports people. Experience shows that there are certain fundamental good practices.
Firstly, a profound consideration of the business, legal and organizational issues is needed. That has to involve everyone concerned, in order to define the right processes – most importantly, in compliance with quality, security and legal norms – and so ensure support from the hierarchy in the organization at the very highest level.
Secondly, it is better to tackle this kind of project in an iterative way. For example, you could start by putting in place a solution for an initial, simple application and use it to build people’s trust. Then gradually bring on board other applications. It’s also important to ensure interoperability by using open standards, keep control over the security aspects and pay particular attention to data recovery.
Thirdly, it’s important to provide change management support (with impact assessments, communication and training plans…). And defining the indicators from the start is essential if you are to effectively assess your ROI, and identify strengths and areas for improvement. Because computerizing business processes is effectively a cycle of continuous improvement.
Many organizations nowadays are undertaking computerization projects. What is the outlook in the medium term?
Following in the wake of on-line services and the development of Electronic Document Management, the current trend is towards the development of probative value archiving. Very few projects are actually up and running yet, but it will not be long before it becomes widespread. Bull is one of the pioneers in this field, with numerous innovative projects, either on-site or in cloud mode. Elsewhere, we see this kind of resource sharing as a very strong trend for the future. In the public sector in France, there are numerous very large-scale digital archiving projects under way: the SPAR project at the national library (the BnF); the Atlas project at the Directorate of Public Finances (DGFiP); the PAC platform at the national computer center for higher education (CINES); the APEnet project where France is represented by SIAF (the inter-ministerial archiving service)… as well as significant discussions such as those currently taking place around the defense ministry’s ARCHIPEL project.
As the Quinet report recognizes, it is possible that we will soon see the creation of an inter-ministerial body to oversee all government archives, in order to rationalize and share what there is to the maximum. For smaller bodies, like SMEs and local authorities, the answer will almost certainly lie in the secure cloud. And this is another area where Bull is innovating, being one of the leading players in France. Ultimately, the information life cycle ecosystem may also be further enhanced with new offerings such as the development of electronic strong boxes (initiatives such as MonServicePublic, which Bull is contributing to), Open Data and the decommissioning of certain applications. These offerings are set to develop and change, building on digital identities and interoperability between systems… Computerization and, more generally, secure data management should lead to numerous new services.