E-document workflow for companies: where to start?

Today, the online document exchange (ODE) is not just a trend, but a business need. It helps companies streamline their HR workflow, sign contracts faster, arrange for the supply of goods, and establish other business processes.

How to implement electronic document workflow at your company? Let’s talk about it in this article.

Why do companies need ODE?

Electronic document workflow provides companies with a number of advantages. Here are the main ones:

It saves time. With the ODE service, you can send and sign a document (contract, statement of work performed, etc.) in a matter of minutes. This allows you to streamline processes within the company, conclude deals with partners faster, arrange for the supply of goods, etc.

It saves money. With electronic document workflow, companies reduce the cost for printing, sending documents, and keeping archives.

It automates business processes. ODE services simplify the approval and signing of documents within companies and with business partners. Responsible employees can control these processes and eliminate problems in time.

It helps to avoid risks. E-documents cannot be lost or stolen. In the ODE service, they can be found in seconds.

If a company decides to switch to e-document workflow, it must determine which documents should be converted to electronic form and which business processes it will help optimize.

In what ways do companies make use of electronic document workflow?

Electronic document workflow systems (EDWS) automate the exchange of documents with partners (external EDWS) or processes within a company (internal EDWS). The following documents can be created and signed within the company:

  • HR documents (documents related to hiring, dismissal, reassignment, vacations, etc;)
  • administrative documents (orders, instructions, etc.)
  • accounting documents (documents related to accounting for business transactions, tax returns), etc.

Implementing ODE takes time and effort. Therefore, companies usually switch to electronic documents step by step. To determine the extent of ODE implementation in your company, you should answer the following questions.

Is there a need for an electronic document workflow? Companies implement document workflow considering their own needs. For example, a partner may require an electronic form of documents, so the company implements an external ODE. Companies with a branched structure often need to create a unified approach to HR. An HR ODE can be of assistance here. Therefore, before determining the areas where the company will implement ODE, you should analyze its current needs.

Which employees need ODE implementation? Switching to e-documents makes it easier for employees to work. However, at the implementation stage, you need to train employees to use the service, identify those who will set up and manage electronic document workflow. Make sure that the chosen areas for ODE will really make your company’s departments work better.

Steps to take when switching to electronic document workflow

How to switch to electronic document workflow? To meet legal requirements, a company must coordinate the transition to ODE with its employees and partners. In particular, the following steps should be taken at the preparation stage.

Develop regulations on the implementation of ODE. The company must develop internal regulations and issue an order on electronic document workflow. They should specify which processes will be carried out electronically, which departments and employees will be involved. After that, you need to familiarize the company’s employees with the changes in document workflow.

Agree on the transition to ODE with partners. If the company is implementing an external electronic document workflow, it is necessary to notify partners and conclude additional agreements on electronic document workflow with them.

Choose an ODE provider. Today, providers offer different electronic document workflow systems for different business needs. Choose an EDWS based on your company’s individual needs.

Develop a plan for implementing an online document exchange system. It includes technical implementation of the EDWS, employee training, etc.

Obtain qualified electronic signatures for all responsible employees. For external document workflow (signing contracts, primary documents, etc.), use the official QESs. HR documents can be signed with an individual’s QES.

Particularities of implementing electronic document workflow in various business sectors: experience of Vchasno clients

Companies effectively use electronic documents in various business sectors. Each sector has its own peculiarities of document workflow organization, so there are some nuances in the use of ODE services. Companies that use the Vchasno.ODE service shared their experience of switching to electronic documents.

Organizing electronic document workflow in manufacturing companies

In many manufacturing companies, offices, warehouses, and production facilities are located separately from each other, and often in different regions. Under such conditions, companies are forced to organize product logistics, remote work of employees who are on business trips, etc.

The use of ODE allows manufacturing companies to quickly approve documents on a remote basis. Reducing the time required to process documents speeds up production processes and, consequently, increases profits.

To organize document workflow in the logistics of manufacturing companies, it is important to be able to work with documents in the ODE service regardless of the workplace. Employees can sign a document in the warehouse or while on the road. In case of errors or inconsistent data, electronic documents can be promptly corrected without delaying logistics processes.

Metinvest-SMC uses the Vchasno.ODE service for internal and external document workflow. The service has helped the company reduce the time required to sign contracts and factoring documents to just one day.

We have converted almost all internal documents into electronic form, including orders and applications, conclusions of internal commissions and minutes of the bidding committee. As for external documents: if we have transferred a customer to ODE, we exchange all documents online. If the customer does not use ODE services, we exchange documents in paper form.

— Andrii Shevtsov, Chief Financial Officer, Metinvest-SMC

Organizing electronic document workflow in trade

Retail chains sign a lot of external documents such as contracts and primary documents with suppliers, lease agreements, etc. Every month, the chains sign thousands of documents with their partners.

Another feature of retail companies is high staff turnover. This increases the volume of HR documents that are processed when hiring, dismissing, etc.

The volume of document workflow in retail chains increases with the expansion of their business. This was one of the reasons for the transition to ODE at the Aurora multimarket chain.

Expanding staff, extending operational processes with the company's growth entails additional costs, which will then have an impact on pricing. We cannot let this happen. Therefore, we are constantly optimizing our internal processes to reduce operating costs.

— Anna Kanina, Director of Legal Department, Aurora Multimarket Chain

The chain switched to electronic document workflow to optimize the processes of goods supply, advertising sales, and premises lease. Since the beginning of 2022, the company has signed more than 1000 e-documents in the Vchasno.ODE service. This helped save more than 1000 person-hours. The successful experience allowed us to expand ODE for other business processes in the company.

Organizing electronic document workflow in the IT sector

Recent practices prove that IT is the most active sector in automating business processes. As a rule, a large number of employees in IT companies work remotely. To organize their work, companies use ODE services for HR document workflow.

EVO converted all HR documents into electronic form using the Vchasno service. As a result, the signing speed of documents has increased 5 times, and the administration of processes has been greatly simplified.

We converted all HR documents into electronic format. EVO has more than 1000 employees. The lion's share of them work remotely from different cities of Ukraine and the world. There is a constant flow of various documents: hiring/dismissal, vacation, business trips, reassignments, etc. For example, the process of hiring an employee now takes an hour instead of a whole working day. There are no more copies and handwritten applications.

— Olena Oleksiienko, HR Director at EVO

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What is an electronic document workflow system?

An electronic document workflow system is a software tool and technology used to automate the electronic document processing. An EDWS allows you to create, edit, send, store, and organize documents using an electronic platform.

What documents are required to switch to electronic document workflow?

For internal ODE, you need to issue an order to implement an electronic document workflow and make it known to all employees involved in the process. For external ODE, you need to conclude an electronic document workflow agreement with the counterparty. If the companies have previously exchanged paper documents, an additional agreement or clause on electronic document workflow should be added.

What constitutes a plan for implementing an electronic document workflow system in a company?

It should define the terms of ODE implementation, the range of employees who will be involved in electronic document workflow, all business processes and documents that will be converted into electronic format, responsible persons, etc.