Ricoh urges organisations to redirect investments to manage business risk
By Michael Barnett, MDS business manager at Ricoh SA
Businesses need to target their spending on their most deficient document-driven processes – which typically relate directly to organisational risk. Ricoh recently sponsored an IDC white paper: It's Worse Than You Think: Poor Document Processes Lead to Significant Business Risk. It shows that companies are spending less money on improving document-driven business processes which are designed to mitigate risk, such as business continuity and risk assessment, business monitoring and controls, and compliance and audit processes, areas that Ricoh recommends companies spend more time understanding and improving. The survey also found driving paper out of processes doesn’t necessarily improve efficiency and companies are too dependent on internal staff to re-engineer critical processes.
The paper says: “In general, the more deficient the processes are, the less organisations are investing to improve them. So even though risk mitigation and other ineffective processes are receiving some investment, they are getting less than other processes and arguably should be receiving a large degree of attention [to minimise impact to the security of the organisation].”
However, well over half of the respondents said improving document processes governing organisational compliance and risk mitigation and management would deliver benefits across business oversight, control, compliance risk, information security risk, and business continuity risk. Our approach to improving document-driven processes like these includes: definition of the desired state and the creation of a plan that includes critical metrics and key performance indicators; creating a new information infrastructure designed and checked for alignment with business objectives and customer expectations; and a campaign to educate and create awareness with end-users of the new process.
It’s important that organisations take a holistic approach to fully understand their information infrastructure, where they may need to make improvements, and work with an experienced partner that can help them transform their processes to be more efficient. But in the case of processes that are theoretically designed to minimise risk, such as compliance and audit processes or business continuity processes, it is even more vital for companies to continuously monitor, evaluate and invest in improvements. In many cases this doesn't happen and it's the cause of a great deal of business risk.
The IDC research examined 23 document-driven business processes that take place in typical organisations. Three of the four processes cited as most inefficient in the study included: business continuity and risk assessment, business monitoring and controls, and compliance and audit processes – all processes designed to manage risk.
The research also spotlighted the counterintuitive fact that automation doesn’t always equal efficiency. A high percentage of business processes (30% to 40%) remain paper-driven, the research found, and many processes jump back and forth between paper and electronic workflows. Nonetheless, the least effective processes according to the research are also the least paper-based. This exposes the myth that simply driving paper out of processes necessarily makes them more efficient. Rather, the health of the process also depends on deeper-level assessment of workflows and attributes of the process itself.
Another finding: organisations rely too heavily on internal staff to reengineer processes, and they over-rely on technology: “Reengineering processes requires deep expertise and outside perspective, while simply adding hardware to a broken process can serve to simply lock in inefficiencies.”
It’s clear from the research that it takes more than intuition to improve vital document processes. The risks are hidden in less-than-obvious places and the solutions require deeper analysis than some might assume. Fortunately, there are best practices for document processes consistent with this new research.
Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group, operates in more than 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2012, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 1,903 billion yen (approx. 23 billion USD).
The majority of the company's revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialised industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.
Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change. Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees.
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