7 Machine Learning Uses for the Back Office

Machine learning is transforming the way that companies do business. But there’s no “standard” approach that’s right for every organization. Some companies are using AI to improve their manufacturing processes, while others are focusing on back-office administration. If you’re trying to decide how – or where – these technologies make the most sense for your business, there’s a wide spectrum of applications to consider. Below, we discuss seven machine learning uses that can enhance various departments across the enterprise.

Real-Time Machine Learning Applications for the Enterprise

At their core, machine learning tools (also called “deep learning” tools) are designed to help you identify patterns, collect data, and create predictive models that become more accurate over time. While humans can do the same work, computers can do it more quickly, for a higher volume of data. This makes real-time machine learning incredibly useful for a variety of projects. Some of the most common business-driven use cases include:

1. Invoice Processing

Machine learning uses algorithms that can identify part numbers, prices, and vendor information, then reconcile that information with the information from the original purchase order. Computers can even cross reference part numbers to help sort out discrepancies. This eliminates the need for a manual two- or three-way match when processing invoices.

2. Managing Tolerances

Instead of a user needing to manually calculate tolerances, machine learning applications can read invoice or sales order values and automatically compare them against information that’s saved in the user’s core ERP. This helps create fewer “touches” for the user and increases the straight-through processing rate for back-office documents.

3. Managing Vendor Discounts

Machine learning applications can read invoice due dates, then determine which invoices to pay (at what times) to take advantage of vendor rebates or discounts. This information can be extracted and presented during the voucher creation process.

4. Collecting and Organizing Unstructured Content

Most business documents are considered “unstructured”. An invoice or sales order that’s received from outside the organization can come in any format. Today’s machine learning applications can recognize data on unstructured documents so users don’t have to manually key it into the ERP.

5. Automating Workflows

When business documents are captured, real-time machine learning applications can trigger automated workflows based on the information it collected from the file. For example, a program that recognizes a vendor’s name could route that document to an appropriate person based on the sender’s email address.

6. Streamlining Financial Audits

Auditors can periodically review sample transactions to make sure they are correct, but machine learning software can regularly check for issues. If a discrepancy is detected, it can be passed along to a user for review. This results in fewer audit-related interruptions and stress-free compliance.

7. Processing Customer Orders

Customer service representatives often spend time on mundane tasks like keying orders into an ERP system or collaborating with other departments like engineering or quality. This increases the company’s lead time and is difficult to track. Machine learning technologies can create sales orders automatically and route order types for review automatically.  This results in faster Sales Order Processing that allows CSRs to focus on better customer service.

Of course, there are many other machine learning uses, too. Siemens notes that the global market for smart machines is growing by almost 20 percent every year, while Dataversity notes that every single industry sector – from manufacturing and healthcare to financial services and law – has the potential to benefit from advances in automation.

What Can’t Machine Learning Do?

Although machine learning can handle a number of redundant tasks, there are certain areas where it’s not applicable – at least, with the technologies that are currently available.

An example: while computers can understand data, they cannot understand context. They can point out an anomaly, but they can’t always determine the underlying cause, and they don’t always know how to solve it. People are still needed to draw conclusions from the insight that predictive analytics provides — providing essential depth to your deep learning initiatives.

Of course, tasks that require in-depth analysis still need to be completed by humans. Computers can only handle processes that they’ve been specifically taught to automate, which means anything that requires critical thinking can’t be solved with an algorithm. That’s why most experts recommend viewing AI as a co-pilot – not an auto-pilot.

Machine Learning Projects Are on the Rise

In 2017, more than a quarter of companies had already set aside funds for machine learning projects – and that number is only projected to rise. If you’re looking to apply AI to your back office, IntelliChief can help.

Our software becomes more advanced the more that you use it. In many cases, it can complete processes that are currently handled by your employees, without any manual effort. For instance, it can help your Accounts Payable department process vendor invoices more effectively and even eliminate the data entry in sales orders. This can make your processes much more efficient – and much less costly.

And, as an enterprise-class solution, our machine learning software has countless potential applications throughout your business. From HR and order processing to accounting and finance, there are a number of ways that we can help you transform your business – and we’re here whenever you’d like to get started.

For more information about IntelliChief’s machine learning functionality, contact us today. Or, to see practical examples of how other companies have streamlined their workflows with our automation software, visit our Resource Library to download one of our peer-to-peer case studies.

 

 

[Webinar] A Methodology for a Successful AP Automation Approach

AP Automation is an ideal goal for any company. There are many tools to help you manage an Accounts Payable process – document management, approval routing, workflow automation, and more. But what is the right combination for your company? How do you start an AP Automation project? What are the common pitfalls when implementing AP Automation?

Join A Methodology for a Successful AP Automation Approach, where we’ll explore a proven methodology to help you develop an actionable plan for when you’re ready to automate.

  • Discuss the detailed methodology for AP Automation, including discovery, implementation, training, and more
  • Learn why many implementations fail and how to avoid making the same mistakes
  • Understand how business goals need to drive technical implementations
  • Identify and review your steps for managing AP Automation to eliminate redundancy
  • Create a clearly defined roadmap for implementing AP Automation tools
  • Review the potential ROI for an AP Automation project

Join us for this webinar and you will walk away with a complete understanding of a paperless AP Automation process and how you can create a business case to take to your senior management team.

AP Automation for Oracle EBS: The Integrated Way

AP Automation for Oracle EBS: The Integrated Way

Discover the Benefits of a Seamless Integration for Your Oracle EBS AP Automation Project

With IntelliChief, Accounts Payable professionals are able to automate the processing of 2-way matching (Invoice to PO) and 3-way matching (Invoice to PO to Receiver) purchase orders within Oracle EBS.

Utilizing IntelliChief, processing occurs in both initial document capture and in workflow, providing real-time integrated Oracle database validation. In conjunction with IntelliChief, information from Oracle EBS is utilized to perform matching functions.

One feature exclusive to IntelliChief is unit of measure normalization, which simplifies the processing of standardized orders (ordering quantity vs. invoiced quantity).  Another helpful feature is parts number cross-referencing, which increases accuracy when disparate numbers are referenced in the invoice.

These capabilities increase “touchless” processing rates, limiting human intervention and errors. With IntelliChief, organizations can take advantage of touchless, straight-through processing to significantly reduce the amount of information keyed into Oracle EBS, saving time and costs by executing early payment discount opportunities and avoiding late payments.

OSHA Record Retention Requirements

OSHA Record Retention Requirements

OSHA Record Retention Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a part of the United States Department of Labor formed by the OSH Act. They govern the health and safety of certain public sector employers and workers as well as the majority of private sector businesses. OSHA is oftentimes perceived as a pest in high-risk industries like construction and manufacturing, where an OSHA inspector can arrive with little notice to assure compliance with OSHA rules, regulations, and record retention requirements.

OSHA is unavoidable. Its jurisdiction covers more than 7 million worksites across the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and beyond. While OSHA inspections are generally the result of imminent danger situations, severe injuries and illnesses, worker complaints, referrals, targeted inspections, or follow-up inspections, it doesn’t require an on-site injury to find yourself at odds with OSHA. For example, OSHA inspectors commonly require employers to provide specific documentation for review. If you can’t produce the proper documentation, you could be cited, forced to pay a fine, or issued a stop-work order until the required documents are made available to your inspector.

Are you following OSHA record retention requirements? Or does your record retention policy put you at risk of noncompliance? This article aims to answer all of your most pressing questions about document retention and how to keep OSHA inspectors off your back.

OSHA Document Retention Compliance Is an Uphill Battle

OSHA doesn’t make it easy to maintain compliance, especially when seeking answers to your questions about OSHA document retention. For instance, when it comes to injury and illness recordkeeping, which utilizes OSHA Form 300A, the employer must submit the documents electronically. However, other forms of documentation like lockout/tagout inspections or noise exposure measurement records might never make the transition from paper to digital.

Over time, you can expect that OSHA will continue to tighten its retention guidelines and push towards more digital recordkeeping. By digitizing all OSHA-related documentation in the near future, you can get a head start while ensuring that your company is meeting all OSHA document retention requirements.

What to Do When OSHA Asks for Documentation

As soon as an OSHA inspector arrives at your worksite, you should inform them that any requests for documentation should be issued in writing. Ask them to be specific and to list the exact documents that are required for review — no more, no less. Having this request in writing will also prevent the inspector from citing you for a document they didn’t request.

If these documents have already been stored electronically utilizing the document management technology in your Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, you can retrieve them instantly and send the inspector on their way. If they must be retrieved manually, your onsite representative should run the request up the ladder to management. Familiarize yourself (and your team) with documents that aren’t required to be produced under any circumstances, including:

  • Post-accident investigations
  • Insurance audits
  • Consultant reports
  • Employee personnel information

Producing extraneous documentation that reveals any noncompliance could result in a citation. Only provide records as required by law.

OSHA Record Retention Requirements Vary by Industry and Document Classification

OSHA standards and the General Duty Clause dictate how employers are required to create, retain, and produce certain documents while under inspection by an OSHA compliance officer. There are small variances in the OSHA record retention requirements for different industries. For consistency, we will focus only on general industry requirements.

OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Fatalities, Injuries, and Illnesses Document Retention

Employers must retain the OSHA 300 Log, the annual summary, and the OSHA Incident Report forms for five years past the end of the calendar year attributed to this documentation. To be precise, the OSHA 300 Log is required to be retained on an “establishment basis” as governed by NAICS codes.

General Duty Clause Document Retention

There are no specific standards or retention requirements for “recognized hazards” covered under the General Duty Clause. This doesn’t insinuate that these documents should be neglected. The best practice for General Duty Clause document retention is to retain any training records dealing with “recognized hazards” for the duration of employment, including:

  • The written policy
  • Training records
  • Disciplinary documents for policy violations

Additionally, there are certain documents dealing with General Duty Clause obligations that may be classified as exposure or medical recordkeeping requirements. Be diligent when building your records retention policy to avoid any potential pitfalls, especially when it comes to OSHA records retention requirements.

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) Document Retention

The OSHA Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard, also referred to as “Control of Hazardous Energy,” mandates that employers maintain logs verifying that periodic inspections by authorized employees are being performed at least once per year. LOTO document retention guidelines stipulate that these logs be maintained for a minimum of one year or until a new log is validated and certification is issued. LOTO training records for individual employees should be saved for the length of employment.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Document Retention

There are several written certifications regarding hazard assessment and employee training that must be retained for the duration of a worker’s employment. PPE records for individual employees should also be retained until the employee is no longer employed.

Occupational Noise Exposure Document Retention

OSHA recommends that employers retain noise exposure measurement records for a minimum of two years and audiometric test records for the duration of employment.

Bloodborne Pathogens Document Retention

OSHA employs the “duration of employment plus 30 years for employee exposure records. Training records must be retained for far less; only three years from the date of the training. Still, many employers choose to retain these records until the employee is no longer working for their company.

Respiratory Document Retention

Similarly, employers must retain records pertaining to employee medical evaluations for 30 years past the final date of employment. Employee results from the most recent fit-test should also be recorded and maintained until the results of the next test have been collected.

Hazard Communication Document Retention

According to OSHA, “Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers.”

Furthermore, they require all employers with hazardous chemicals present at their workplaces to label them accordingly and update safety data sheets for their exposed workers. Each safety data sheet (SDS) must be retained for 30 years beyond the duration of employment for all exposed employees. Employers must also retain copies of all SDSs for every chemical currently being used.

Process Safety Management (PSM) Document Retention

The Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals standard (29 CFR 1910.119) states:

The employer shall complete a compilation of written process safety information before conducting any process hazard analysis required by the standard. The compilation of written process safety information is to enable the employer and the employees involved in operating the process to identify and understand the hazards posed by those processes involving highly hazardous chemicals. This process safety information shall include information pertaining to the hazards of the highly hazardous chemicals used or produced by the process, information pertaining to the technology of the process, and information pertaining to the equipment in the process.

OSHA requires process hazard analyses (PHAs), related employee records, and verification records to be retained for the duration of the covered process or the employee’s tenure. Process safety information (PSI) documents used for developing, maintaining, auditing, and managing processes should also be retained for as long as the process is being used.

Finally, employers should save incident investigations covered by the PSM standard for at least five years as well as the two most recent compliance audit reports. Failure to comply with these retention policies could result in a citation, fine, or penalty.

Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) Document Retention

OSHA has not mandated time-specific document retention requirements for emergency action plans (EAPs). However, they do require that employers develop and maintain a written EAP for review during inspection. Small teams of fewer than 10 employees do not need to maintain a written EAP.

Permit-Required Confined Spaces Document Retention

Employers are required to retain canceled entry permits for a minimum of one year. They should also be reviewed within one year following each entry. In regards to employee confined space training records, it is recommended that employers retain these records for the duration of employment.

Electrical Safety Document Retention

OSHA’s electrical safety standards contain no specific record retention requirements. It is still recommended that employers retain these records for the length of employment. When conducting an electrical exposure hazard survey, the employer should retain documentation until the hazard is no longer present.

Powered Industrial Trucks Document Retention

The powered industrial truck standard contains no specific retention requirements for initial training certificates or those issued for three years following a near miss. While there is no specific mandate, these training certifications should be retained for the duration of employment for each employee to protect against liability.

You’ve Satisfied All OSHA Record Retention Requirements. Now What?

When it comes to record retention, OSHA-related documentation should only comprise a small percentage of your total paper volume. Invoices, receipts, contracts, employee files, medical records, and more must also be retained for varying amounts of time depending on state and federal laws as well as your internal policies. The key is to make the transition from paper to digital documents; whether in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Shared Services, or any other department. Once all of your information can be managed electronically, you can apply automated retention policies for every type of document in your organization, ensuring that your burn policies are executed according to your specific rules. You will never worry about audits or compliance ever again.

To learn more about how IntelliChief Retention Manager develops automated retention policies to optimize your document management capabilities and streamline compliance, click here.

Electronic Personnel Files

Electronic Personnel Files Best Practices

Electronic Personnel Files

Your workplace records policy plays an essential role in helping your business maintain compliance with federal and state laws and regulations governing employee file access, retention, and security. If you’ve ever had a brush with the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), then you fully understand the importance of a reliable workplace records policy. That said, if your business is making the transition from paper records to electronic personnel files (as it should), it’s crucial to take a step back and re-examine your workplace records policy to ensure that you are employing electronic personnel files best practices to protect your company. This article summarizes several electronic personnel files best practices and answers essential questions, including:

  • What are electronic personnel files?
  • What is records retention? (And how can it be simplified?)
  • Why is controlling access to electronic employee files critical?
  • What are the electronic personnel files best practices for storage?
  • What is the best procedure for the destruction of HR-related documentation?
  • Why must my workplace records policy be standardized to avoid compliance issues?
  • How does Enterprise Content Management (ECM) support security and privacy in Human Resources?

What Are Electronic Personnel Files?

Electronic personnel files contain employee records related to personal information, background, employment history, and more. Traditionally, these records were consolidated in a single personnel file (i.e. a folder in a file cabinet). When an employee or employer needed to access information about a particular employee, they could reference their personnel file and browse through the available records contained therein. For small businesses with only a handful of employees, maintaining personnel files the old-fashioned way is relatively simple as there isn’t that much information to keep track of. Unfortunately, as businesses grow and evolve, so do their HR-related needs. What started as a single file cabinet for personnel files might expand to 10, 50, 100, or more.

In Human Resources, electronic personnel files eliminate the need for paper-based records and personnel files as well as the physical storage required to house them. Instead of sifting through cabinet after cabinet or calling into a storage facility for a copy of an employee file, electronic personnel files are stored securely on a server where they can be accessed instantly by approved team members. When your HR department needs to review information about an employee, they can retrieve their electronic personnel files with the touch of a button, expediting access to pre-employment documents, employment documentation, and separation of employment documents. Of course, not all employee files are available in their personnel file.

Medical information, credit information, immigration forms, and any documents relating to company complaints or investigations should be consolidated in a separate file (or files); however, these files can still be stored as electronic copies to enhance security and ensure compliance. As we will discuss later, ECM tools can help your HR department eliminate guesswork by creating standardized HR workflows to accelerate HR business processes and keep your records organized according to electronic personnel files best practices.

What Is Records Retention?

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “The length of time you should keep a document depends on the action, expense, or event which the document records.” Although this statement is certainly in reference to taxes, it succinctly describes the objective of records retention — to hold or retain records for the right amount of time to avoid negative consequences. Your retention policy will be determined by state and federal law as well as your own internal retention policies, but managing both can be a challenge.  This is one of the primary reasons why businesses opt to shift from paper records to electronic personnel files — compliance. Compliance is something most business leaders worry about. Things tend to slip through the cracks when you don’t have a tight grip on your business or visibility into all of your business processes.

With ECM tools, you can set automated retention policies based on pre-existing compliance rules or your very own custom rules. These policies are rendered actionable using a robust workflow engine that aligns with your business rules. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states “Medical records must be maintained for the duration of employment plus 30 years.” Automated retention policies let you “set it and forget it” while maintaining compliance.

With ECM software integrated with your HRM or HRIS system, your retention policies for specific electronic personnel files will be updated according to actions occurring throughout your organization. That way, when an employee quits and you update your system of record accordingly, this change is identified by your ECM system and the appropriate retention policy is applied to all electronic personnel files for that specific employee.

You can also automate your retention schedule for each classification of documentation, even records governed by more than one law. Whether you retain documents for the minimum or maximum time allowed by law is your choice. ECM software also makes it easy to identify documents that don’t have clear retention policies, such as records related to pending claims or litigation. The SHRM website features a summary of federal record retention requirements, which can be used to inform your records retention policy.

Why Is Controlling Access to Electronic Employee Files Critical?

Controlling access to electronic personnel files is essential for compliance. Your employees’ information is confidential. As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that this information is granted privacy. For instance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which was enacted in 1996, ensures that “all forms of individuals’ protected health information, whether electronic, written, or oral” are protected (The Privacy Rule). It also requires health information to be stored in electronic form (The Security Rule). Additionally, there are countless privacy regulations that contain highly specific provisions regarding who can (and who can’t) access and use information. By taking the time to identify current and former employee rights dealing with personnel file access, you can implement a strategy to control access to protected electronic employee files. Better yet, your ECM provider can help you by leveraging their experience helping other companies become more compliance-friendly.

What Are the Electronic Personnel Files Best Practices for Storage?

Companies that digitize HR documentation in electronic personnel files store these files in a secure and centralized digital repository. This repository, an important component of any ECM solution, serves as the connection point between your electronic personnel files and system of record. With a seamlessly integrated solution, managing HR documentation in an ECM platform will provide real-time updates in your HRM or HRIS system. It can even apply business rules to certain documents, similar to how automated retention policies operate, to streamline HR processes. Look for a solution that is safe, secure, intuitive, and integrated with your other core technologies to protect the integrity of your system as a whole.

What Is the Best Procedure for the Destruction of HR-Related Documentation?

Every company has a different procedure for the destruction of HR-related documents. For destroying paper documents, paper shredders are the most common tool of destruction. However, many people have found creative ways to destroy paper using everything from a controlled burn to soaking them in water. In the workplace, you should employ a standardized method for destroying HR-related documents — nothing too crazy.

In a paper-based office, you need to determine a process for verifying that retention requirements have been satisfied and choose a disposal method that can be executed quickly and efficiently. In an ECM-integrated office, you don’t need to worry about any of these things. Your system will monitor all of your documents and execute your unique burn policy automatically without any human intervention. It’s a simple, reliable way to handle the destruction of documents.

Why Must My Workplace Records Policy Be Standardized to Avoid Compliance Issues?

Your workplace records policy, including your retention policy, should be standardized to prevent your business from deviating into noncompliance. Consistency is key, which means your policy implementation should align with your ECM strategy to get the most out of your system. In a paper-based office, how do you ensure that your record retention rules and procedures are being applied the same way every single time? By failing to standardize your workplace records policy, you can never be completely sure your next audit will go the way you expect. By integrating Enterprise Content Management software with your existing HR technologies, you can support Human Resources by giving them the resources to deftly oversee all electronic employee files while automating time-consuming and tedious processes that lead to errors, mix-ups, and gaffes.

How Does Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Support Security and Privacy in Human Resources?

Whether your records are stored physically or electronically, protecting the confidentiality of employee records should always be a chief priority. We’ve mentioned ECM software throughout this article as being a beneficial tool that supports security and privacy to strengthen your workplace records policy — but why is this the case? Here’s a summary:

  • ECM tools, like OCR Software and Document Management, digitize your paper-based employee records into secure digital files that significantly expand your HR processing capabilities.
  • With ECM software, electronic personnel files can be stored in a secure and centralized digital repository for on-demand storage and retrieval.
  • Electronic personnel files can only be accessed by team members with the proper level of permission, eliminating the potential for unwanted eyes.
  • Electronic personnel files can be processed with minimal (or no) human intervention using HR Automation capabilities found in industry-leading ECM solutions.
  • By implementing automated retention policies and secure backups, you can preserve all personnel files, maintain compliance, and expedite audits.

By integrating an Enterprise Content Management system with your existing system of record, you can insulate your records for privacy and greatly increase security while leveraging the benefits of electronic personnel files and HR Automation to improve efficiency.

Want to learn more about electronic personnel files best practices using Enterprise Content Management and HR Automation? Contact IntelliChief today to speak with one of our experts about your needs and requirements.

ECM for Customer Service

How to Retain Customers Who Are Leaving By Implementing ECM for Customer Service

ECM for Customer Service

There is an inherent disconnect between enterprise executives and the consumers they serve, one that is hard to address — even for companies with a long track record of success. Rapid marketplace innovation means keeping up with consumer expectations is more difficult than ever before, especially when it comes to Customer Service. This article analyzes several consumer behavior trends and devises strategies to help you retain customers that are leaving by implementing Enterprise Content Management (ECM) for Customer Service.

Established companies around the world are acutely aware of the challenges of the current marketplace. As the cost of new customer acquisition continues to spike, refocusing on the customers that made your company successful in the first place has become imperative. There’s never been a better time to invest in customer retention, and there’s never been a better way than investing in your company, especially when those investments help improve the customer experience and, therefore, customer loyalty. As an enterprise executive, the following consumer behavior trends might be alarming, but when acted upon by implementing ECM with your Customer Service Management or Customer Relations Management (CRM) system, they can actually help you plot the course for a more successful future. How will you respond?

Even Loyal Customers Are Comparison-Shopping

Customers are no longer willing to stick with a vendor based on loyalty alone. Comparison-shopping has become deeply ingrained in our consumer culture, which means your best customers, the ones your business depends on to make large purchases regularly, could be eyeing your competitors to see if they offer cheaper prices, better service, more attractive loyalty incentives, or superior products. It’s just what today’s consumers do. There’s no use fighting it — you have to adapt. While customer loyalty continues to flounder, consumerism is at an all-time high, which means a customer lost is undoubtedly a customer gained for one of your competitors. This is one of the primary reasons why many businesses are turning to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation to increase back-office efficiency and serve better customer experiences. When discussing the laurels of ECM versus CRM, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: scalability. ECM can help you streamline and automate your Customer Service department while integrating with other technologies throughout the enterprise to insulate your business against disruptions and technical anomalies inherent to disparate or “point” solutions.

Customers Expect Their Problems to Be Resolved in a Single Session

What happens when a customer’s order goes missing? Of course, you do everything in your power to track it down, but are you set up to resolve your customers’ problems efficiently? This is a challenge facing most businesses in the United States — and you don’t need to own a company to understand why. When interfacing with other businesses, how often are your issues resolved in a single session? Are you put on hold? Or promised a callback? Customer loyalty is motivated by a number of factors, but nothing tarnishes your relationship with a customer like poor customer service. In fact, 4 out of 5 consumers have not expressed a notable increase in customer service satisfaction in over 10 years. If you want to retain customers, it’s time to enhance your customer service capabilities.

Web-Based Customer Service Can’t Replace Live Support (Yet)

Droves of companies have started to transition to web-based customer service; however, despite its popularity among business leaders, it has yet to fully win over consumers. Let’s face it, consumer challenges are becoming more and more technical as technological innovation continues to flourish in our world. Posting a library of help-related resources in lieu of phone support can be maddening for consumers who want quick answers to their questions. Live chats that aren’t overseen by a human employee are oftentimes even less effective. There’s still no substitute for a phone call with a reliable representative, but equipping these workers with the tools to succeed is something many executives overlook. If you want to improve customer service, you must not only diversify your customer service channels but also equip your team with the tools to store and retrieve documentation with the click of a button.

Businesses Have Little Control Over Customer Service Expectations

Unfortunately, your customers’ expectations of customer service are largely dependent on factors outside of your control.  It doesn’t matter whether an individual is purchasing a pressure washer for their home or ECM tools for their business, consumer behavior is relatively consistent. Therefore, customer service expectations can be elevated by consumer experiences on a personal level. For example, if they purchased a pressure washer online and it was delivered damaged, but they were able to solve the conflict amicably on the first contact, this experience could manifest in unpredictable ways — like heightened expectations for another company’s customer service capabilities. Even if you’re a B2B shop, customer service can be redefined by a buyer’s B2C experiences. What does this mean for enterprise executives? Consumer trends for the enterprise can be gleaned by taking a close look at the best customer experiences you’ve come across personally.

ECM Tools for Customer Service Can Help You Retain Customers Who Are Leaving

No matter how much data you have, predicting how consumers will act always require a little luck. You can eliminate some of the guesswork by fortifying your Customer Service department with ECM tools designed to elevate efficiency and serve superior customer experiences. Oftentimes, this is accomplished in ways your customers cannot see or perceive. What happens behind the scenes at your company matters, and by implementing ECM for Customer Service, you can ensure that you retain more customers by providing the level of service they expect — whether making purchases on the B2C or B2B level.

To learn more about how to retain customers who are leaving by implementing ECM for Customer Service, contact IntelliChief today.

 

Electronic Employee Files

How Electronic Employee Files Support Human Capital Management

Electronic Employee Files

Your business is committed to enhancing customer relations by creating better customer experiences. Does this philosophy hold true when turning the spotlight on your business and the way it handles employee file management? It doesn’t end with onboarding. As businesses grow and evolve, their needs change, as do the needs of their employees and contractors. By supporting Human Capital Management (HCM) with electronic employee files, you can ensure that your HR department has access to timely, accurate information at all times.

What Is Human Capital Management?

Human Capital Management is concerned with the management of workforce acquisition, workforce management, and workforce optimization. Usually, these areas of need are addressed using software applications and systems put in place to help manage the life cycle of every employee and contractor that enters your workforce. It might be your primary HRIS application, like Workday or Saba, or a complementary solution for tracking applications, onboarding, performance management, or payroll. These systems are critical for managing employee data effectively and maintaining statutory compliance in HR. What these systems lack is a reliable way to digitize information into electronic employee files for secure storage in a centralized repository.

Fortunately, this can be accomplished with the use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software and automation. With OCR software, every employee file that enters your organization, whether by mail, email, fax, or otherwise, can be “scanned” for information. This information is then captured and stored automatically according to your HR business rules, resulting in numerous operational and cost-saving benefits.

The Benefits of Electronic Employee Files and HCM

If your business still relies on paper documents to store employee information, you can make significant improvements to your HR department by simply digitizing those files. Paper-based practices are rife with errors and lack security. What happens if an employee file goes missing? Or is destroyed? The cost to reclaim that document spikes the moment it falls off your radar, which is why electronic employee files are such a game-changer for HR.

  • Capture and store employee files electronically, facilitating secure and immediate access when needed
  • Automate retention policies for stress-free compliance and faster audits
  • Enhance your level of internal service
  • Provide convenient desktop and mobile access to electronic employee files
  • Integrate with HRIS applications to update electronic employee files in real-time between databases
  • Leverage a secure system of record for employee information
  • Eliminate paper filing and storage, reducing the risk of lost, damaged, or destroyed employee files
  • Identify missing documents with ease
  • Secure your business with Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning

SHRM Confirms the Advantages of Electronic Record-Keeping of Employees Files

According to SHRM, “Employers often choose to maintain records electronically rather than keeping paper files. This relieves the need for physical storage space for employment records over a span of many years, which may save money and time. Also, electronic storage facilitates easy retrieval of information and allows for efficient access to documents. Organizations may also elect to go paperless as part of a commitment to sustainability.”

Furthermore, they find that “private on-premises systems offer more control in determining how to use, store, and locate data.” Therefore, if your business doesn’t want to rely on a vendor to ensure access to employee files, an on-premise solution might be more suitable than a cloud-based solution that offers less autonomy and flexibility. There are pros and cons for each type of system, so it’s recommended that you talk to an expert who can help you determine the solution that best suits your requirements.

Start Your Digital Transformation With Electronic Employee Files

What better way to start your Digital Transformation than by digitizing employee documents to ensure that the individuals who play a key role in your shared success are being treated with the respect they deserve? No employee wants to wait weeks to hear about the status of their time-off request or be left in the dark about whether or not their insurance was updated. With electronic employee files, information can be accessed at the touch of a button to serve streamlined experiences that bring your team closer together.

To learn more about IntelliChief for Human Capital Management, including electronic employee files and HR Automation, read our Case Study.

Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

Overcoming Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

Businesses need customers to survive. No matter how good your product is, if you can’t serve your customers’ needs in an efficient manner, there’s no guarantee that they will remain loyal to your business. All it takes is ONE small mistake or slip-up to turn a 5-star customer into a 1-star review.

 

High-quality Customer Service is determined by a number of factors, but speed is paramount if you want to keep customers satisfied. Even the most gracious and eloquent apology can’t make up for slow response times when your customers come calling. Your Customer Service team needs to be quick on their feet, and that’s impossible if your business still relies on paper-based Customer Service processes that leave your customers on hold listening to a repetitive tune while they shuffle through a cluttered file cabinet for information. Even companies that have already started implementing digital solutions to enhance Customer Service will find themselves at a disadvantage when compared to companies that have automated Customer Service capabilities. Do you know where your company stands?

Welcome to Your Paperless Office

If you want to overcome the paper-based Customer Service challenges that plague most businesses, you will need to focus on the following two objectives:

Digitizing Your Customer Service Documents

Paper-based Customer Service challenges stem from the physical limitations of paper. Paper takes up space and must be moved manually to transfer information from one person or department to the next. As a result, paper-based Customer Service processes are tedious, time-consuming, and ripe for error. By digitizing your documents, you can create precise digital replicas that allow you to store and retrieve documents instantaneously from a computer, tablet, or even mobile phone if you want to expand your Customer Service team to incorporate remote work. OCR software is the technology used to capture documents and import them into a Document Management system. Advanced OCR software can even recognize the numbers and characters on a document and use them to perform automated tasks, which should be your second goal if you want to overcome the challenges of paper-based Customer Service.

Digitize all of your Customer Service documents, including:

  • Product Literature
  • Orders
  • Invoices
  • Shipping Documents
  • Return Documents
  • Manuals
  • Parts Lists
  • Maintenance Histories
  • Customer Correspondence
  • RFPs
  • RFQs
  • Quotes

Automating Your Customer Service Processes

OCR software will help you digitize your documents, allowing you to finally get rid of those filing cabinets that take up valuable real estate in your office. Furthermore, a paperless office will never require additional offsite storage to accommodate paper loads, which means no more spending exorbitant amounts of capital on storage that yields no tangible return for your organization. However, this is only the beginning. If you want to truly eliminate all of the inefficiencies that result in Customer Service slowdowns, digitizing your Customer Service documents should be followed with Business Process Automation. By automating your Customer Service processes, you can serve customers faster and more efficiently while focusing your human capital on improving customer relations and tackling nuanced problems that require a human touch.

Customer Service Touchpoints Give You a Chance to Improve Customer Retention

While the statistics quoted by industry analysts vary, it is generally accepted that it costs as much as 10 times more to win a new customer than to keep an existing one. Expanding your customer base is crucial, but not at the expense of your existing customers. Winning customers and, more importantly, keeping them, are critical business requirements. But what keeps customers loyal? Price, quality, availability, relationships, and inertia all play a part, but Customer Service is the touchpoint where your business and your customers meet. It’s a make-or-break environment where great service is your only option if you want to maintain positive sentiment.

It’s no secret that customers respond favorably to good service. In fact, it affects their purchase decisions. According to Accenture, poor customer service has, at one point, caused nearly half of all U.S. consumers to switch at least one of their service providers.  To add insult to injury, recent reports suggest that Customer Service expectations are rising at a faster rate than companies can (or are willing) to adapt to. In a separate survey by Accenture, which canvassed 1,200 technology consumers in North America, Europe, and Asia. It was revealed that consumer technology companies that offer average – not poor, just average – Customer Service alienated consumers and risked losing almost three-quarters of their customers to competitors. The results are clear. Customer service is critical to customer loyalty and company profitability. It can’t be viewed as a cost, but it should be viewed as a prudent investment.

Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

One important difference between Customer Service and other areas of your business is that resolving customer issues often requires access to information that is spread across multiple departments.

Consider, for example, a standard Customer Service call:

  1. A customer telephones to complain that they did not receive everything they ordered.
  2. To ensure that the customer did, in fact, order everything they recall ordering, the CSR first examines the original order document that is likely located in a filing cabinet in the sales office.
  3. If the items and quantities match, the CSR then has to verify that none of the requested items are on backorder by referring to a copy of the packing slip that is filed away in the warehouse.
  4. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, the CSR must then review the shipping documents to see if everything was shipped in one box or in
    multiple boxes.
  5. If there were multiple boxes, the CSR has to verify that they all made it onto the truck and were delivered.
  6. Depending on the company’s shipping policies, the boxes may have been delivered by the company’s own truck or by one owned by a third-party shipping company.
  7. Finally, the CSR is ready to assist the customer — except wait, the customer has moved on.

Most Customer Service interactions aren’t this tedious, but this example does serve to show how the dispersal of information across an organization can send your CSRs into a tailspin.  When some or all of this information exists on paper, providing high-quality Customer Service becomes a costly and oftentimes futile endeavor.

The Financial (and Operational) Costs of Paper

The following are among the characteristics and costs of paper that hinder your CSRs:

  • Paper is costly to store, handle, copy, and distribute.  On the enterprise level, warehouses may be required to store the paper required to resolve customer issues. That paper has to be manually filed when it comes in (or is created) and then retrieved when needed. For collaborative purposes,  the necessary documents may need to be photocopied at a cost of several cents per page in addition to the related labor costs.
  • Paper storage leads to human error. In physical storage environments, documents may be misfiled or accidentally destroyed, resulting in hours spent hunting them down or trying to recreate lost information. This is not a trivial cost. Research from Price Waterhouse Coopers suggests that the average cost to search for a misfiled document is $120. In the meantime, increasingly frustrated customers are kept on hold awaiting an answer to their questions.
  • Paper is difficult to backup or recreate. Fires, floods, vandalism, there are countless ways for a paper document to become lost, damaged, or destroyed. Most companies lack a true disaster recovery plan, so it’s not until the unexpected occurs that they understand the danger of paper documents. If the only copies of valuable customer information are destroyed, it would be impossible to serve customers, and other ongoing operations may also be obstructed. In addition, failing to adequately protect customer and transactional data against such destruction, accidental or not, may place your company in breach of a number of regulations.
  • Paper can’t meet customer expectations. A shift in customer expectations over the years has further increased the drawbacks of using paper to support customer service. Web-based technologies have resulted in a greater expectation for rapid CSR responses from vendors. Customers no longer readily accept “I’ll have to put you on hold” or “I’ll have to call you back” when they call with a question. Yet that is exactly what they hear when a CSR has to track down information that exists only on paper.
  • Paper doesn’t support self-serve options. Customers today often expect, and industry economics frequently demand, new alternatives for customer service, including 24/7 self-serve support options. Paper-based information makes it impossible to offer this level of convenience. Plus, by refusing to offer self-serve options, you are funneling all support requests directly to a Customer Service department that is already overwhelmed by a lack of digitization and automation.

Say Goodbye to Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

Despite the predictions a decade or two ago that we would by now be enjoying the benefits of paperless offices, most businesses are still dependent on paper because going paperless requires help — and good help is hard to find. If your organization, like many organizations, is still buried under mountains of paper, it will affect every corner of your business, from Accounts Payable to Human Resources and, of course, Customer Service. Once a paperless office has been established, automating customer service functions and offering Web-based self-serve options becomes simple. You can speed-up customer interactions and add value to those interactions while lowering their costs.

Are you ready to see how Enterprise Content Management and Workflow Automation can help your business overcome paper-based Customer Service challenges? Contact IntelliChief today, our experts are standing by to answer your questions and help guide your search for the right solution!

Paperless Logistics

3 Reasons to Support Paperless Logistics and Customs Clearance in 2020 and Beyond

Paperless Logistics

Following the precipitous spread of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s never been a better time for companies to reduce their reliance on paper-based processes that only serve to stimulate the spread of germs and disease. One industry that can greatly benefit at this time is logistics and customs clearance. This article will cover three important reasons paperless logistics and customs clearance should be embraced universally in 2020 and beyond, including:

 

  • Create safer working conditions
  • Support faster and more transparent clearances
  • Work remotely with confidence

1. Create Contactless Clearances With Paperless Logistics

If the coronavirus has taught the logistics industry anything, it’s that achieving a paperless logistics system that works for you and your customers has never been more crucial. Logistics and customs clearance historically rely on paper-intensive processes to keep imports and exports flowing to their rightful locations.  There are many documents involved in customs clearance, including:

  • Documents for Exports: Buyer Purchase Order, Sales Invoice, Packing List, Shipping Bill, Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, and more.
  • Documents for Imports: Buyer Purchase Order, Supplier Sales Invoice, Bill of Entry, Bill of Lading, Packing List, Certificate of Origin, and more.
  • Country-Specific Documentation

Logistics companies realize that by going paperless, they are establishing a safer workplace with fewer operational restrictions. What was once considered a time-consuming and cumbersome process can be transformed with paper solutions for Document Management, Workflow Automation, Data Entry Automation, and more.

Lancy Barboza, Managing Director of Flomic Freight Services, notes that by incorporating the “best available technology and work processes,” they have been able to set a new benchmark for service standards, enabling Flomic to “consistently deliver a timely and relevant response to our clients’ demands.”

And despite the fact that coronavirus has ushered in disruption after disruption for cross-border trading and freight movement, Barboza believes it has also revealed an opportunity to leverage technology for efficient paperless logistics processes that mitigate face-to-face interactions. Safety has become a top priority for most companies looking to go paperless, but it’s only one of many reasons for businesses to migrate to a more comprehensive paperless solution, such as an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system.

2. Support Faster and More Transparent Clearances

Paperless logistics opens the door to faster and more transparent customs clearances. It facilitates the type of contactless and paperless environment that all industry leaders are shifting to in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Going paperless and digitizing documentation accelerates clearances by eliminating the need for manual document retrieval. It also improves business intelligence to help employees make better decisions backed by real-time information. Furthermore, it allows business leaders to track productivity and decision-making to address lapses in judgment or operational inefficiencies. Slowdowns in the logistics industry are largely the result of outdated, manual processes — many of which can be eliminated altogether by going paperless.

3. Work Remotely With Confidence

Going paperless and going remote are two entirely different processes, but companies that decide to go paperless will find that transitioning to remote work is much easier when paper documents have already been removed from the equation. With paperless logistics, you can facilitate remote access to applications for importers and exporters to file shipment details from the office, home, or on the road. This greatly reduces the need to move personnel from the office to the customs station and vice-versa. The world of logistics and customs clearance are changing, and business leaders will need to acclimate to these changes in short order to maintain a frictionless workplace that isn’t constrained by physical boundaries.

Getting Started With Paperless Logistics and Customs Clearance

No matter where you are located in the world, every port requires a customs clearance process that is safe and functional. By transitioning to paperless logistics and customs clearance, you can provide an unrivaled experience that allows you to manage more imports and exports than ever before. Whether your distribution channels comprise the air, the road, the sea, or all of the above, you can benefit by going paperless.

To learn more about paperless logistics and customs clearance, contact IntelliChief today.

Enterprise Automation Statistics

10 Enterprise Automation Statistics for the Cost-Conscious Executive

Enterprise Automation Statistics

Industry 4.0 is here, which means top executives are taking it upon themselves to equip their businesses with the tools and resources necessary to stay competitive and improve profitability. Although there are several ways to improve operational efficiency across the enterprise, there are only a handful of solutions that can generate appreciable ROI from the outset, and among these, Enterprise Automation reigns supreme. Are you still performing your due diligence on automation? These 10 Enterprise Automation statistics will help you obtain a better understanding of why the time to automate is now.

 

For business leaders, it can feel like the goalposts are constantly being moved when it comes to Enterprise Automation. Innovation is at an all-time high, which means new features, functions, integrations, and products are always on the horizon. A quick search online might yield dozens of potential vendors. Due diligence could take weeks, even months, to complete. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean you should stall your Digital Transformation; instead, consider these ten Enterprise Automation statistics!

1. It Takes Employees an Average of 18 Minutes to Locate a Document Manually

Before you can automate, you must first digitize. Digitization of your business-critical documents ensures that they are never lost or destroyed. They can be recalled on demand without a trip to the file cabinet or warehouse, allowing you to establish a frictionless work environment where productivity is prioritized. It takes employees an average of 18 minutes to locate a document manually, which can account for up to 50 percent of their time. When you digitize your documents, you reclaim this time lost and set the stage for the real game-changer: Enterprise Automation.

2. 60% of Occupations Could Save 30% of Their Time With Automation

Once you’ve performed your due diligence and identified your ideal solution, it’s time to identify which business processes are best suited for automation. When automating workflows, you want to zero in on departments that process a large volume of paper and/or information. In our experience, some of the best departments to automate include:

There is no “wrong” answer when you start to automate business processes; however, there are certain departments that will yield a higher ROI than others due to a number of factors. Here’s the good news. According to a McKinsey Study, 60 percent of occupations could save 30 percent of their time with automation, which means the potential for automation within your organization is largely untapped.

3. Employees Spend 69 Workdays Each Year on Manual Administration-Related Tasks Instead of Their Primary Job Duties

Businesses that automate drastically reduce wasteful spending by eliminating repetitive, time-consuming tasks that lead to productivity issues. In a study conducted by DJS Research on behalf of Unit 4, it was revealed that people spend 69 workdays each year performing manual administration-related tasks instead of their primary job duties. Enterprise Automation helps you reclaim this time and put it to use however you see fit. Can you imagine how much more your employees could accomplish with an extra 552 hours per year?

4. Businesses That Adopted Big Data Reduced Overall Costs by 10% and Increased Overall Profits by 8%

Another benefit of Enterprise Automation is that it allows you to bolster your analytics efforts to get a clearer view of the nuances of what is (and isn’t) working process-wise within your organization. You can identify operational bottlenecks, inefficient processes, and even track individual performance to make sure each of your team members is putting forth equal input to help you achieve your fiscal goals. You don’t have to wait until the end of the quarter to collect data and generate reports like the old days. You simply click a button and your reports are ready to view or distribute. Improving business intelligence keeps everyone in your organization on the same page and working towards the same objectives, which explains Business Application Research Center (BARC) findings that businesses with big data capabilities are able to reduce overall costs by 10 percent and increase overall profits by 8 percent on average.

5. Bad Data Costs Businesses $600 Billion Annually

Collectively, businesses forfeit $600 billion annually as a result of poor quality data. On a case-by-case basis, this can account for as much as 20-35 percent of operating revenue costs. That’s not a figure to scoff at. The Business Literacy Institute considers a sustained growth rate of 10 percent a year to be “remarkably good,” so if you’re currently losing 20-35 percent of operating revenue costs to bad data, the numbers suggest that your business could be trending in the wrong direction.

6. Manual Business Processes Cost Businesses $5 Trillion Annually

$600 billion in lost operating revenue costs will certainly catch the attention of any executive, but it’s only a small fraction of the revenues lost to manual business processes. Manual business processes cost businesses $5 trillion annually. For reference, that is $2 trillion more than the U.S. deficit for 2020. Of all the Enterprise Automation statistics in this article, this might be the most alarming because it suggests a significant window of opportunity for any executive who is willing to take the leap and automate their company.

7. 75% of Businesses State That AI Will Allow Them to Transition Into New Businesses and Ventures

Businesses that are no longer at a functional disadvantage can do more with the resources available to them. Growth is a key indicator of a company’s overall success. 75 percent of businesses state that AI will allow them to transition into new businesses and ventures, allowing them to expand operations into new and increasingly profitable areas that would be barred off otherwise. For growth-minded executives fueled by ambition, an investment in Enterprise Automation equates to an investment in a growing portfolio of future-proof ventures.

8. 84% of Executives and Analysts Say AI Will Help Them Obtain or Sustain a Competitive Advantage

Executives and analysts alike are keen on automation because there is still a long way to go before this technology has been adopted universally. In other words, companies that automate sooner than later can get a head start in Industry 4.0. Just think, how would your business look today if you were the first to invest in a mobile-friendly website, automated customer service, or paperless process management? There’s a reasonable chance that with earlier adoption of these technologies, many of which were considered big risks at one point, your business would be further along with its Digital Transformation and more resilient to business interruptions. According to Forbes, 84 percent of executives and analysts say AI will help them obtain or sustain a competitive advantage — which means there is no time to waste.

9. 67% of Businesses Believe Implementing Digital or Software Solutions Is Important to Remain Competitive

AI plays an important role in automating business processes, but it’s not the only solution for companies looking to streamline and cut costs. 67 percent of businesses believe implementing digital or software solutions is important to remain competitive. Some examples of software solutions that can help enhance the enterprise include:

10. Automation Projects in Paper-Intensive Departments Generate an ROI of 30-200% in the First Year

According to ThinkAutomation, automation projects in paper-intensive departments, like Accounts Payable, Human Resources, and Customer Service, typically generate an ROI of 30-200 percent in the first year. In Accounts Payable, where Enterprise Automation can increase processing speeds by as much as 70 percent or more, many businesses recoup their initial investment in less than twelve months. Forward-thinking executives tend to leverage these savings to expand their solution across the enterprise to facilitate a more connected, data-savvy work environment.

These Enterprise Automation Statistics Speak for Themselves, Only You Can Speak for Your Business

Are you ready to cut costs, increase operational efficiency, and future-proof your business? These ten Enterprise Automation statistics speak for themselves, but it’s up to you to be the voice of reason at your company. If your team is still entering data to your ERP system manually, shuffling through file cabinets to locate documents, or paying the same invoice more than once, it’s time to make a change.

With IntelliChief, you can preserve your existing business processes and enhance them with industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation capabilities. To learn more, contact IntelliChief today.