In an increasingly digital world, it can seem like more and more businesses are moving operations to the cloud. But digitizing business processes isn't just for e-commerce retailers and remote startups. Even businesses with physical supply chains and on-site teams can benefit from digitizing and automating their business processes.

Here’s how businesses in nearly any industry can use new technologies to implement digital processes and begin their digital transformation.

What Does It Mean to Digitize Business Processes?

The digitization of business processes means using technology to streamline or optimize your business operations. The term “digitization” describes the conversion of physical documents into digital formats, while “digitalization” refers to the transformation of analog processes into digital ones. Put together, digitization and digitalization contribute to your digital transformation.

Digitization is a dynamic process that looks different for every business. For a small business, it could be as simple as converting paper documents into digital documents and letting customers know that you’re going paperless. For a startup, it could mean designing an app to streamline and digitize the customer experience.

If you’re an HR professional, your digitization strategy might start with streamlining employee onboarding or other systems that you use on a daily basis.

Key Benefits of Digitizing Business Processes

Digitizing business processes can take some effort, especially if you’re reliant on paper documents, physical filing systems, or legacy computer software. But digitizing business processes can make you more organized and help you keep up with your competitors in the digital age. Here are four benefits of starting your digital transformation now.

Streamline Workflows

First, digitizing business processes helps you streamline your workflows by identifying inefficiencies and eliminating unnecessary steps. From form filling to data entry, many manual tasks can be eliminated with digitization, and other steps can be simplified or re-ordered by using workflow charts to achieve maximum efficiency.

Improve the User Experience

Digital workflows can improve the user experience for customers and employees alike. Customers are accustomed to self-service portals where they can log in and solve their own issues, while many employees value the flexibility of remote work. Digitizing business practices allows you to keep up with changing user expectations.

Re-allocate Resources

Digitization is an opportunity to save time and money by reducing unnecessary labor and expenses. From cutting down on physical storage space, to reducing the risk of human error, digitization allows you to allocate resources more efficiently and direct more time and attention toward the tasks that add more value to your business.

Drive Innovation

Finally, digitizing your business practices helps you stay ahead of the curve and find new and innovative ways of doing things. Whether it’s developing a low- or no-code app, rolling out a customer service chatbot, or implementing workflow optimization, digitization can help you retain a competitive edge in the marketplace. 

Examples of Digitization in the Real World

Digitizing business: entrepreneur using a convertible laptop

Ever since the onset of the pandemic, it can seem like every business is digitizing some aspect of their operations, from health care service providers offering telehealth visits, to e-commerce entrepreneurs using digital marketing tools to reach their target audience. Here are just a few examples of how businesses can get started with digitization.

Digital Payments

These days, most retailers accept some form of digital payment, but many businesses have yet to fully digitize their payment processing methods. Even simple changes like sending out digital receipts instead of printing can save money and improve the customer experience. Organizations can also use business process automation for payroll, invoicing, purchase orders, and inventory management.

Mobile Apps

Businesses of any size can create custom apps for internal use that allow employees to complete digital workflows from any of their devices. For example, Pulpstream makes it easy to perform safety audits and inspections using a customizable app that syncs with our cloud-based human resources platform. Organizations can use mobile apps to digitize employee onboarding, workplace safety training, time-tracking, and more.

Marketing Automation

Customer relationship management (CRM) tools make it easy for businesses to store customer contact details in the cloud and optimize marketing efforts. Businesses can use marketing automation software to streamline email marketing, social media marketing, and other forms of digital outreach, or use artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of chatbots to engage with customers in real-time when they reach out.

Data Analytics

Digitizing core business processes can help to eliminate data silos by centralizing and standardizing data for use in areas like claims analytics and workforce analytics. This allows businesses to make sense of big data sets that would be impossible to analyze on paper, improving their problem-solving and decision-making capabilities.

5 Steps to Digitizing Business Practices in Any Industry

There’s no standardized way to go about digitizing your business. The right tools and systems for you will depend on your industry and the size of your organization. Follow these five steps to develop your own digital transformation strategy:

1. Assess Your Needs

Start by determining your needs with a workflow analysis or business process analysis. This will help you identify the parts of your business that would be easiest to digitize or have the greatest need for improvement. For example, maybe the most important thing is to replace a legacy system that’s no longer efficient or cost-effective.

2. Digitize Paperwork

If you haven’t already, digitize as much physical paperwork as possible. Depending on where you’re at in the process, this might look like scanning old paper documents and converting them into a digital format. Or, you can start digitizing forms and collecting e-signatures now to ensure a more streamlined process going forward.

3. Invest in Digital Tools

Invest in the right digital software, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform for your marketing team, or a human resources information system (HRIS) for your HR team. Digital technologies are evolving all the time, so be on the lookout for new tools, but be mindful of escalating pricing tiers and vendor lock-in.

4. Automate Workflows

Once you have your paperwork digitized and your software set up, the next step is to automate as many tasks as possible. This can be as simple as adding new customer details to your CRM automatically, or automating one or more stages of the contract lifecycle management process. Many no-code software tools like Pulpstream offer integrations so you can automate workflows across multiple platforms.

5. Document Your Processes

The trouble with digitizing business workflows is that if you skip a step or an employee doesn’t learn how to use a new piece of software, it can cause trouble down the line. You can mitigate this risk by training employees on your new workflow and providing thorough documentation that they can turn to if they need help figuring it out.

Start Your Digital Transformation With Pulpstream

Colleagues working together

Digitizing business practices can help you reduce costs, streamline your workflows, and improve productivity but it takes some careful planning. Start by converting documents into digital formats and analyzing your existing processes with workflow diagrams.

Once you’ve created your first digital workflow, you can apply these systems to other departments to complete your digital transformation.

Pulpstream supports digitizing business practices with our cloud-based digital transformation platform. Our mobile apps empower field employees using Apple and Android devices, even when they don’t have Wi-Fi, while our built-in integrations allow you to automate workflows across popular platforms like ADP, Salesforce, and DocuSign.

Most importantly, our intuitive interface means it’s accessible even to employees who are new to digital workflows or don’t know how to code.

Request a demo today to see it in action and learn more!