Human Resources

Paper & digital document management for HR departments

Human Resources departments face more challenges and suffer from greater pressures today than ever before. Against a backdrop of economic change & uncertainty, HR is being challenged to carefully manage the employee lifecycle - from recruitment right through to exit - while trying to keep costs to a minimum and meeting both organisational and regulatory requirements. 

The Human Resources remit is broader than ever - putting company goals into a people focus - attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining the optimum employment & resource levels - building and promoting the company culture while improving employee engagement - and creating services and programmes for multiple generations of staff with different work/life perspectives. 

And then there are the day-to-day management tasks like - payroll & benefits administration -  tracking time, attendance, sickness and performance - appraisal, grievance and disciplinary procedures - updating and maintaining personnel & personal information - and along the way, accumulating lots (and lots) of data to be analysed and reported on to company management. 

The ongoing cost, company and regulatory pressures that HR departments are facing, including the need to demonstrate that HR delivers a return-on-investment, and the need to comply with extensive organisational and external rules and regulations, adds to the considerable challenges facing today's HR department and every HR professional within it.

The document problem

HR Professionals know that their department is home to some of the most complex document and paper processes in business today. And that a lot of their day is spent processing company and personnel documents. They also know that daily life would be a lot easier without the document & paper pain that accompanies it. 

Data Management Systems (DMS) were designed to address the data mountain issue for Human Resource departments back in the days when they were called 'personnel systems'. But in real-life, they can be inflexible in practice, arduous to set-up and install, onerous to maintain, and costly to buy and operate. None of which will come as any surprise to HR Professionals actually dealing with the real-life consequences of documentation.

Few, if any, DMS successfully address the larger issue of documents. And yet HR departments receive, generate and deal with more than their fair share of documents whether they are digitally generated (like a Word document or an Email) or multiple types of paperwork (not so much a data mountain as a daily document avalanche). 

From offer letters to employment contracts, employee handbooks & guidelines, policies and procedures, disciplinary documents, reference requests and the list goes on (and on). So folders & filing cabinets, archive boxes & storage rooms - not to mention expensive Third Party storage suppliers - are still the mainstay of many HR departments. But the multiple issues and risks then continue apace . . . 

  • Growing volumes of paper and electronic documents
    • Risk of duplication of documents or of missing documents 
  • Labour intensive manual processes to copy, email, post & file documents
    • Higher labour costs with duplication of effort 
  • Slow and/or incomplete ability to access employee records & documents
    • Delays in processing paperwork or responding to issues 
  • Inconsistent or incomplete document processes
    • Lack of document verification, retention/expiry, version control
  • Lack of reporting or audit capability for compliance and response to requests
    • Legal, monetary and reputational risks plus privacy & security concerns 
  • HR documents space, filing and & retrieval constraints
    • High storage and shipping costs 

Document Management for HR 

Effective document management delivers real advantages and costs savings to the HR department. And can certainly address all the issues outlined above. 

  • Easily manage any volume of paper and electronic documents
    • Avoid the risk of duplicate or missing  documents
      • Provides fast, easy & secure access to documents 
  • Dramatically minimise all manual processes
    • Reduce labour costs and duplication of effort
      • Increase staff productivity, confidence & job satisfaction 
  • Instant access to complete employee records & documents
    • No delays in processing paperwork or responding to issues
      • Big gains in accuracy, performance and time management 
  • Consistent and complete document processes
    • Full document verification, retention/expiry, version control
      • Provides automated alerts, business rules and workflows 
  • Comprehensive reporting and auditing for compliance and response management
    • Avoid legal, monetary and reputational risks + privacy & security concerns
      • Automated auditing, reporting & querying provides real HR Business Intelligence 
  • Liberate HR documents space, filing and & retrieval requirements
    • No more high storage and shipping costs
      • Significantly improves the ROI for HR departments 

Essentially, in order to work smarter at a time when many are forced to do more with fewer resources, it is vital to implement intelligent document management that automates manual processes and ensures that HR documents & records are instantly and securely accessible. Equally, the solution must be affordable, easy to install, easy to use and future-proof.

HR Document Management can also work hand in hand with any HR Data Management system providing in situ, in context document retrieval & viewing support to the data system. This extends and expands the useful value of any existing HR data system.

Becoming Paper-Light 

CVs, contracts, references, policies & procedures, salary appraisals, expense reports, holiday requests, grievance or discipline documentation are obvious examples of the paperwork avalanche managed by a Human Resources department. And all of these critical documents (and many more) must be stored and retrieved in a way that is quick, reliable and absolutely confidential. 

Human Resources are at the heart of all businesses: recruiting, training, assessing and managing staff is all done through this essential department. And it's no secret that the daily processes of the HR team have seen large amounts of paperwork being kept for many years. Traditionally, this paperwork has been in the form of hard copy paper documentation. From initial interview of potential employees the paper files are created, expanded and filed (hopefully) in an organised, indexed manner for future access. 

But the storage space this requires means that, after a time, large swathes of the office are being used to store confidential records. As the archive grows, finding the right file and having easy access to the information becomes an issue. Some HR teams run out of available space and often send older files to offsite storage or less accessible corners of the building. 

Quite simply, wherever and whenever possible, paper needs to be digitised. Converted into a digital documents via scanning onsite or off-site or any mixture as best suits the organisation and its individual paper document situation. If appropriate, there can also be the application of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to make the text content of the digital documents searchable. 

Going 'paper-light' in the HR department is the sensible approach for any organisation looking to become more efficient, streamline their processes and help their staff be more productive. And it need not be expensive or difficult. 

Going Electronic 

With an effective electronic document management system, paper documents received can be imaged using a scanner and then the originals destroyed or placed into (cheap) deep storage as per an agreed policy. And all electronic documents from whatever source can be tagged with metadata (classifications, categories and descriptive labelling) and/or have optical character recognition (OCR) technology applied to make their text content searchable. 

Individual documents can be automatically assembled into personnel 'document records' (one per employee) and linked to the appropriate 'data record' in the HR data system if one exists. Documents are then securely stored in the central electronic document Repository.  With all HR documents and information stored electronically, the need for filing cabinets full of paper records is overcome.

Electronic HR document management eliminates the need for expensive paper archives and manages all forms of digital document. And as the documents are securely stored and then easily searchable and retrievable from the Repository, they cannot get altered, lost or mislaid. 

Security settings ensure that only those people who are authorized to view a document can see it, and as each interaction with the document is recorded, there is a clear audit trail which records who has viewed the document, when, and the actions that were taken.

Cost Savings 

It is a truism that time costs money and this is especially true of HR staff that have to spend time on manually-intensive administrative tasks (an hour a day means around 3 days a month lost).

Hard cost savings can also be achieved through the elimination of pre-printed stationery, printing, photocopying, postage costs and off-site storage facilities. The latter can prove very costly, especially as there are fees involved in the retrieval of archived documents.  In fact, some businesses are saving many thousands of pounds every year just by eliminating their third party archiving facilities. 

With an effective and affordable paper & document management solution, many organisations experience a return on their investment within the first year or sooner. 

The Folding Space Difference 

There is quite a choice of electronic document systems out there in the marketplace. And some of them are aimed at Human Resource departments. Finding the right solution for your particular needs, however, is less simple. 

  1. This is particularly true when you want to avoid a 'one system fits all' approach where your needs become subsumed by how the system requires you to operate.    
  2. Equally, you probably want to avoid the expense of a custom development.           
  3. Then again, there's the thorny question of 'affordability' and 'value for money' wrapped up in an ROI objective. 

Balancing these three, usually competing aims, is difficult. But not impossible if the solution proposed is innovative, proven, adaptable and very affordable. And it will come as no surprise that at Folding Space we believe we balance those competing objectives in a fair, equitable manner deriving from our unique software technology platform.