Paper Burden Reduction Initiative

The efficient use of technology within an organization can create a large impact on both the corporate bottom line and on the environment. Green IT, or Green Computing, deals with the effective and environmentally responsible use of Information Technology resources within an organization. It is not just about reducing the corporate carbon footprint; the goal of Green IT is also to significantly reduce resource consumption. Greening IT processes not only helps to reduce impact on the environment, it can help to realize substantial cost savings, and with the current economic climate at an extreme low, cost savings are king.

In this modern age of fiscal uncertainty, as the credit crisis continues to tighten corporate liquidity; job losses continue to mount and North American and World markets continue to get hammered. Cost savings and cash flow are becoming increasingly more vital to sustaining business operations and surviving. What were previously profitable companies have ended up going bankrupt because they could not cover their expenses. Simply put, organizations do not spend their profits, they spend their cash. Barring $700 Billion Federal bailouts, generating real working capital is the key to business health.

  1. Greening technology to improve the effectiveness of business operations can improve profitability.
  2. Greening technology to reduce costs by making processes more efficient can improve liquidity.
  3. Greening technology to reduce resource consumption and waste is a social responsibility.

Service Delivery Challenge

ERP Systems are yesterday’s darling, and are quickly becoming today’s burden. These costly and complex systems that handle core business functions such as Financials, Distribution, Manufacturing, Human Resources, and Payroll have endured an intense amount of scrutiny over recent years both for their implementation costs and their failure to deliver justifiable business value. What they offer in terms of increased effectiveness or efficiency ends up being a huge drain of corporate resources in their administration and maintenance. Introducing new business processes into an ERP system that has failed to deliver on its promise of ease of use and efficiency is simply not an option to consider given the large expenses and resource consumption required. In many cases organizations are opting to replace these large, cumbersome systems with newer, easier to implement, and easier to manage web-based systems.

So, despite spending millions of dollars on these ERP systems, organizations are still being relegated to the use of manual, paper-oriented processes and forms to fulfill various core business functions that their ERP systems do not provide or do not provide correctly. According the Gartner Groups, as much as 80% of all business documents are still paper based forms. Information Technology was supposed to bring about the era of paperless offices, yet today the average office worker consumes even more paper than ever before. The cost of processing forms in the U.S. exceeds $15 billion annually, according to Gartner; almost double what it was only ten years ago.

Even though businesses may have ERP systems, it is unfortunate that as opposed to helping to maintain a sustainable, eco-friendly, and Green working environment, businesses continue to be wasteful and rely on the use of paper. The financial costs of paper based processes go far beyond the cost of the paper alone. These processes are time-consuming and labour-inefficient, and there are substantial hidden costs associated with printing and copying equipment, with distribution and delivery, postage, filing, storage, retrieval and disposal. In the U.S. alone, businesses spend $1 billion a year designing and printing forms, $25-35 billion a year filing, storing, and retrieving those paper forms, and $65-85 billion over the entire life cycle of those documents to maintain, update, and distribute them. This is not surprising given that business processes that use paper-based forms are inefficient, a waste of valuable company resources and a burden to the environment.

The challenge for many organizations then is to find ways to leverage their existing technology investments to deliver justifiable business value in terms of increased profitability and liquidity. Process Automation Systems tend to be a good place to start. Organizations can reap substantial savings by converting paper-based form processing methods to electronic ones.

From ERP to the Web

The influx of new technology and standards that resulted from the Internet revolution has introduced new, powerful, feature-rich and standards-based products into the marketplace. An online or web-based process automation solution can be an affordable investment to help leverage that ERP system. A solution that creates, deploys, and automatically manages the data-entry, routing, tracking, and approval processing of online electronic forms can automate many inefficient processes with only one small investment.

The result; incredible cost savings stemming from:

  • Time wasted using incorrect or outdated forms and delays in locating the correct form
  • Time spent filling in the same information, over and over on each form
  • Data-entry errors and miscalculations followed by error corrections and corresponding delays
  • Improper use of forms by ineligible employees
  • Illegible forms
  • Re-entry of the data contained on a form into software applications
  • Incorrect form routing and failure to obtain the correct signatures and approvals for prompt action
  • Delays caused by the absence of authorized individuals or co-contributors
  • Costly printing, storage, dissemination, and disposal of outdated forms

The eXFORMA Advantage

eXFORMA is a business process automation platform that allows organizations to efficiently develop web based service delivery applications that integrate with their ERP investments simply, easily and without the need for programming. For the business user it provides an easy to use browser-based interface for rapidly building powerful electronic forms that can automate business processes. For the IT professional it provides a powerful forms engine that can be plugged into company wide portals to serve up electronic processes throughout an enterprise. It replaces the use of paper forms and the routing of form documents using email as a business process. In doing so, it transforms every aspect of processing forms from creation, printing, storage, and distribution to filling in, routing, signing, checking, obtaining authorizations, and making available the valuable data contained on forms to mission-critical and business-critical software applications.

In accomplishing this task, eXFORMA delivers the following benefits:

  • It eliminates repeated data entry & re-keying. It has built in features to pre-fill forms using data from existing databases. This improves both the speed and accuracy of the data entry process.
  • It allows you to capture data in real time and then have that data forwarded to the appropriate departments for further review, approval, processing or to capture additional information. And it does so with a webbased, browser interface. Fax traffic doesn’t slow information down and it doesn’t get lost in the e-mail shuffle that many organizations suffer from. It also provides a way for users to check the status of their request so they always know what’s going on.

  • Ensure privacy, security and auditability. It has a robust user management system that provides multiple layers of security in terms of who can have access to the forms and who can see the data. Submissions are stored with their forms in a secure place and auditors can with the appropriate security clearance access the system to do regular system audits.
  • Consolidate & re-use existing forms. It provides a forms repository where forms can be stored and easily accessed. Forms can be broken down into templates and sub-templates that can be used to assemble new forms much more quickly. Form designers can develop new forms with ease – even for ad-hoc requirements – using a browser.

  • Instant availability. Since forms do not require a client side application.- it is 100% server based – forms are instantly available to your enterprise, your business partners or the entire Internet – making the implementation of the new business process extend across departments, individuals or organizations.

  • Open standards. eXFORMA has been designed from the ground up to use every applicable open standard. This allows the system to be able to seamlessly integrate with virtually any technical environment with minimal effort. The system was built using J2EE and XML and provides advanced integration options using Web Services and portal integration.

  • Formalize forms processing. With a sophisticated, feature-rich business process management engine that has been integrated into the platform, eXFORMA can model very complex business processes that incorporate data flow between individuals, between systems and even across organizational boundaries.

Optimizing the Business

By implementing your business processes in eXFORMA, your business logic and corporate intellectual capital is captured.

Your performance as a business can be measured and reported and optimizations can be determined. These optimizations lead to an improved business logic and increased intellectual capital making your business more competitive.

Flexibility

Since the process is defined in a web-enabled system, changes to the business or relationships that affect the business processes can be accommodated easily and efficiently. Thus as businesses go through periods of changes (downsizing, mergers, restructuring, etc.), eXFORMA can easily adapt the changes to users roles and responsibilities within the organization and manage new responsibilities.

Integration

Accessing and integrating with multiple systems throughout a business process and facilitating the collection and review of information already available greatly reduces the time to complete various tasks and ensures that the context of the business process is maintained throughout the individual tasks. This context involves people and systems and eliminates errors and ensures that the people and systems are acting on the correct data. The effects of forgotten activities and misplaced documents can be eliminated since the information is tracked and tasks monitored. Incomplete tasks are easily identified and resolved with affected systems updated.

Auditability

Getting the work done is important but proving the work was done is now a corporate priority. New laws are mandating that companies provide the ability to audit the flow of information. Sarbanes-Oxley is such an example.

Since eXFORMA monitors each action and logs the action into a repository – an action being the completion of the task and the data collected or updated – companies can now report on each individuals performance and hence on the performance of the organization in meeting its obligations. This auditability can be applied to legal mandates, service-level agreements with customers and performance monitoring.

Form Creation

Each time a user creates a new electronic form, eXFORMA has the choice of either creating a form from scratch or pulling from a library of sub-templates which can automatically fill in personal information that employees typically repeat on every form such as name, department, etc. This saves valuable time and prevents mistaken entries. In addition, eXFORMA has validation features that can be enabled at the field level to ensure data is entered correctly. Similarly, eXFORMA performs mathematical calculations and excludes improper entries. For example, if an employee is making a vacation request, eXFORMA can verify that the dates are correct and that the correct duration of time is not exceeded. As a result, employees avoid making mistakes that cause processing delays and waste time in the review and re-submission process.

The eXFORMA BPM Suite and MobiTask from GroveWare Technologies are helping organizations to enable electronic service delivery via web and mobile quickly and cost effectively. Consistent with other industry estimates, automating paper based processes can achieve cost savings in excess of $100 per form. If you are a large organization processing thousands of forms annually, the savings can be staggering.

We invite you to take a closer look at how can help your organization reduce costs and improve operational efficiency.

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