Among the two-million engineers in the United States, nearly one-third of them struggle with workflow and document management issues. Document management is kind of like filing your taxes – something you don’t particularly like to do but you know you have to. It does not inspire creativity, critical thinking, or anything else that makes the job worthwhile.
Nevertheless, efficient workflow and document management procedures are vital to the success of engineering-based companies, as the time spent filing documents and interpreting workflows has a direct impact on the companies’ bottom lines. Fortunately, engineers can eliminate this time by optimizing workflows in a way that best supports companies’ procedures and processes.
Improving Document-Centric Workflows
Engineering workflows are document-centric by nature, and collaboration between both internal and external reviewers is essential to project completion. Whatever your company designs, assembling the various parts requires thorough reviews and approvals to ensure there are no errors and every task or decision works together harmoniously.
More and more, companies are utilizing software to manage these review and approval workflows, allowing them to better communicate across locations and provide all involved parties with a single source of truth. Workflows and EDMS software bring forth clarity for workers, and companies can use these systems to automate document related actions as they move from one engineer to the next.
Probably one of the most exasperating aspects of this approval process is document versioning. As a document is modified, collaborators need to inform other project members a change has been made to a document and ensure everyone is using the latest version. If not explicitly stated in the document’s version number, document reviewers may be unaware a change has been made and accidentally use an old or obsolete version of a drawing or document.
Engineers can mitigate the risk of misusing documents by using a system that automatically updates a document's version number as it is checked back into their EDMS and only allows users to see and use the most current document or drawing. ImageSite, eQuorum’s robust on-premise EDMS, automatically changes the version number based on the company’s preferred versioning scheme, virtually eliminating the risk of improperly versioning a document while only delivering the most current version in searching, viewing, and printing.
Automate Document Management
If done manually, workers can spend a large portion of their time searching for and filing their documents. In addition to document versioning, there are a number of document related workflows companies complete using important files. Generally speaking, these include:
- Creating Modifying and Archiving Documents
- Sharing Documents with Third-Party Collaborators
- Creating Reporting for Workflows
- Searching and Retrieving Documents.
EDMS’s can automate these document actions, such as creating, archiving, deleting, and publishing documents, and even the launching of transmittals. ImageSite can change user permissions to ensure they only have access to the files they need and to ensure the files and documents are secure throughout the workflow. Automating document actions takes the legwork out of the workflows and allows engineers to focus on the important tasks at hand, like doing the engineering.
Bottlenecks are typically the primary cause of workflow inefficiencies. They are several types of bottlenecks companies encounter when assessing their workflows. Short-term bottlenecks are caused by temporary problems, such as employees using their PTO or sick days or notifications not getting to workflow participants. Short-term issues, are typically easy to address, when and if they are identified.
Conversely, long-term bottlenecks (also known as reoccurring bottlenecks) result from poorly designed workflows or employees bogged down with a series of time-consuming tasks. Long-term bottlenecks often take some amount of workflow redesign to address, once identified. An EDMS with audit trails can help organizations answer the following questions:
- Where is the bottleneck located in the workflow?
- Who or what is responsible for the bottleneck?
- Which documents are culpable?
Audit trails help organizations tackle inefficiencies, as they provide an in-depth understanding of the problem, allowing them to find a logical solution. Long-term bottlenecks are reparable, but if left unmanaged can produce serious negative effects on an organization’s bottom line.
A workflow and document management system can significantly improve the efficiency and productivity of workers, enabling your company to improve its bottom line. Due to the work hours saved, companies implementing a document management system can expect to see a large return on their investment within their first year. ImageSite, eQuorum’s on-premise EDMS and Engine-Box, eQuorum’s Cloud solution can help companies optimize their workflows to obtain these productivity improvements and increase job satisfaction for engineers.