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Questions to Ask When Considering a Digital Document Solution

Supply chain professionals have undoubtedly heard the phrase “digital document solution.” But what does that really mean? A digital document solution is just that – a solution; a solution to archaic work processes of paper copies, endless attachments, and desynchronization that slow down critical work especially for the procurement and supply chain functions. But how can digital document solutions help your business?

Image courtesy: Pixabay

Image courtesy: Pixabay

They can enhance resources, save time and money, ensure brand consistency, improve accuracy, and improve the vendor experience. Even though document and contract management technology is more accessible and intuitive today than ever – it can still feel overwhelming and become a roadblock if not carefully selected and implemented. So before you make your decision, think about these questions. 

Will this software impact your team’s productivity?

Modern businesses, vendors, and internal sales teams are overburdened with processes and technology, so while you may purchase tech to enable your teams, if your tech stack doesn’t align, you may actually be adding to that burden. Be sure the technology you invest in integrates well with your existing programs and processes, and will actually increase productivity and efficiency for your team.

Document generation solutions allow businesses to create, collaborate, store, share and track documents in one convenient location. Platforms can transform paper-based workflows to digital-first documents, and streamline document workflows with dynamic HTML5 templates, integrations with source systems, and online document collaboration complete with electronic signature functionality. Document creation, sharing, signature and storage in a single location reduces “paper” steps. And fewer steps means more time and productivity for teams across the board. This allows for streamlining the vendor contract process by allowing both parties to make contract revisions in just minutes. 

How will this software work with the timing of your workflow?

Understanding how your team gets work done is a key point that builds on the business value notion. Too many team leaders start with a laundry list of tech fixes, and think they can just plug-and-play to satisfy a team’s particular use case. A better exercise is to look at specific outcomes the teams are trying to achieve and begin the analysis. It may sound like heresy, but often technology can be the culprit instead of the savior. In other words, don’t throw more technology at a broken process. Fix the process first then use technology to support the outcome you’re trying to achieve.

Here are a few other things to think about:

  • Make sure your team meshes with other departments.  It’s critical for teams to understand your own organization’s flow. By understanding the operational ins and outs of the whole company, an employee is better prepared to deal with a breakdown in customer service or vendor relations.
  • Define the core team use cases and forget the rest.  If you’re spending time on work processes or tasks that aren’t mapped to lead generation or shortening the vendor cycle, you’re wasting time. Often there’s overlap in functionality with sales tools, so consolidating not only lowers your spend, it reduces your infrastructure and ramp-up time for new employees.
  • Mix the old processes with the new to find the right balance.  Sometimes the telephone is better than Twitter — really. The integration points between analog and digital practices become really important here. It’s not that you’re banning social interaction with your vendors on Twitter. But if you’re not measuring the activity and mapping it to a key sales metric, it’s just noise.

Will this software improve accuracy?

While time is vastly important in the supply chain industry, accuracy is just as important to a successful close on vendor contracts. Imagine if your vendor received several documents with different versions of your company logo—that could instill insecurity about your services to the vendor before your relationship even begins. Before the rise of digital document generation, companies often relied on older technology like word processing and spreadsheet software to create proposals, quotes and contracts. The result was documents riddled with errors, inaccurate contract terms and more.

Image courtesy: Pixabay

Image courtesy: Pixabay

 

Today, the right document generation solution allows supply chain professionals to rely on the data in back office systems like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) to populate contracts, reducing inaccuracies and ensuring vendors and customers get the right information exactly when they need it. Neither speed nor accuracy can be achieved without the right document workflow. And that requires a template that provides a solid foundation for document generation, a tech stack that makes pulling data from disparate sources easy, and a central location to store each document and contract after it’s been created.

Make sure you’re always asking “why are we doing this?” Is it to build vendor loyalty? Do you need more data to show why vendor churn is up? What about the competition? All these scenarios don’t start with a technology or a tool-set. They’re driven by strategic questions that supply chain leadership should be surfacing in order to grow business. No single technology is ever a panacea for broken processes. Figure out your problems or your ‘why,’ then figure out your solutions to fix those issues.

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