Recently, I got together with some colleagues to discuss ways the COVID-19 pandemic was changing how our customers use and interact with documents. While all of the stories were enlightening, I noticed an interesting common theme: companies that had originally implemented our software to improve printing were now using it to avoid printing altogether. Let me explain.
Prior to the pandemic, workers were still in the office and businesses were operating according to their usual workflows. Core business applications created critical documents that were printed and delivered to end users and other stakeholders so they could perform their jobs. Shipping manifests, sales reports, patient intake forms — every industry seemingly has its own set of documents they can’t live without.
But once the pandemic hit, some companies realized that they had no easy way to put those documents in the hands of the workers who needed them. Many stakeholders were working from home, far away from the printers where their applications normally delivered these critical documents. In other cases, stakeholders had no problem getting the printed documents, but their external customers refused to sign or accept them, for fear of being exposed to Coronavirus.
Almost overnight, companies were trying to convert their existing document processes and infrastructures into a means of delivering documents electronically.
Example: Energy Sector
A large global energy company was in the process of investigating digital transformation projects when the pandemic hit. The crisis prompted them to update a compliance document process involving manual document assembly, physical signatures, certification stamps and more.
Because of the nature of their business and the high monetary and regulatory costs of any error, managers were required to review documents then print an invoice to be signed and sealed with an official stamp. As a result of the pandemic, they are now looking to automate this process and use email document delivery with a digital stamp and signature.
Because they already had a robust output management strategy in place, we were able to quickly propose a solution for this shift from physical document fulfilment to an electronic one. Though the immediate proposal was a tactical solution, it fits in well with their larger strategic goals.
Example: Grocery Distribution
One of the industries still up and running during this difficult time is food distribution; specifically, the transportation of groceries from distributors to stores.
A wholesale grocery distributor was recently faced with a new request from their customers at the major grocery chains: they no longer wanted any paper documents involved with their deliveries. Bills of lading, delivery invoices, inventory orders, and other documents carried by the truck drivers represented an unnecessary risk.
The chains wanted all of these documents to be delivered electronically to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. In addition, the documents sent to the truck drivers like schedules and delivery locations needed to be delivered in online form to maximize driver safety and efficiency.
Like the energy company in the earlier example, this wholesaler was able to leverage their existing output management strategy to quickly transform a paper-intensive business process into an electronic one. Complex documents were converted to PDF format for delivery via email — all without impacting the underlying business applications.
Innovation, Adaptation, Transformation
It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. But in times like these, when the necessity arises practically overnight, there is little time to invent solutions from scratch. At that point, it is important to have systems and processes built to not only meet today’s needs but ones that can scale and adapt to a whole new set of requirements at a moment’s notice.