Startups who embrace digitalisation are revolutionising key business processes

Digitalisation and modern workflows have become crucial components for long-term efficiency and growth. In this article, author David Malan explores how startups in particular can embark on a step-by-step digitalisation journey, with a particular focus on implementing efficient document management systems (DMS).

The reality is that many UK businesses, particularly startups, still face challenges in implementing digitalisation. Where to begin is often the biggest challenge...

Let's explore how embracing digitalisation, specifically through modern document management systems (DMS), can revolutionise workflows.

Step-by-step digitalisation

Rather than a wholesale switchover, digitisation typically begins in specific areas or departments to limit risks and costs while gaining initial implementation experience. A modern DMS can serve as the linchpin for this process, simplifying the transition and ensuring a structured approach. Startups are advised to start with areas where the most significant benefits can be realised with minimal effort. This ultimately helps in fostering workforce acceptance through strategic communication and motivational measures.

Accounting is a prime candidate for early digitisation as this department is critical to a company's success. Too, it’s highly standardised due to legislative requirements, making it ideal for implementing proven digital solutions. For instance, digitising invoice processing in accounting offers numerous advantages, including around-the-clock document access, improved data consistency, reduced manual entry errors and, of course, streamlined workflows. Startups working with businesses in the EU should plan ahead as countries such as Germany require all invoices to be submitted as e-invoices by 2025. Spain, France and other countries will follow suit in 2026

Streamline your workflow

Let’s take a look at one specific example in action. Manual invoice processing is not only time-consuming but also prone to errors and inefficiencies. Digital invoice processing automates these tasks, ensuring timely payments and enhancing supplier relationships. The process begins with digitising incoming invoices, whether received by fax, post, email or EDI. Optical character recognition (OCR) technology extracts relevant data, which is then reconciled with procurement and accounting systems. Automated workflows notify the appropriate parties for approval, streamlining the process even when employees are on leave or working remotely.

Digital invoice processing includes built-in error checks and automatic reconciliations, preventing overpayments and duplicate invoices. Automated systems ensure compliance with internal and legal requirements, such as the UK's mandate to retain records for six years. Preconfigured workflows and forms provided further simplify implementation and ensure best practices are followed. Starting with digital invoice processing as an initial step can yield immediate financial benefits by reducing manual data entry and processing times, thereby improving cash flow management and compliance with audit requirements.

Consider cloud-based

Something important for startups in particular to consider is going cloud-based. These solutions offer flexible, scalable options for document management and workflow automation. A robust DMS operated in the cloud should include comprehensive services like intelligent indexing, which instantly identifies the most valuable information on a document and converts it into highly structured, usable data, as well as the likes of contract management which streamlines the entire contract lifecycle, ensuring a business can find information fast, meet deadlines and keep contracts secure.

The decision on the number of user licenses and storage capacity needed can be tailored to the company's growth, allowing it to seamlessly scale up as required. Perfect for a startup on the move – no need to worry about overpaying for unused resources!

Future digitisation projects

Following the successful digitisation of invoice processing, startups can extend their efforts to other areas like HR. Digitising HR processes, such as personnel files and payroll, involves the entire workforce, fostering broader acceptance of digital transformation. Each subsequent project should align with an enterprise-wide digitalisation strategy to avoid technology incompatibilities and process friction.

As the UK economy accelerates its digitalisation efforts, startups that swiftly embrace and implement digital transformation will be better positioned to thrive in the evolving business landscape. By leveraging modern DMS and cloud-based solutions, these companies can enhance their efficiency, security and compliance, while also improving their agility and responsiveness.

The shift to digital workflows not only reduces operational costs but also opens up new opportunities for innovation and growth. In a competitive market, the ability to adapt quickly and effectively to digital advancements will be a key differentiator, enabling startups to not just survive, but excel in the new era of business. The imperative for startups to embrace digitalisation is clear - those that do will find themselves at the forefront of industry innovation, ready to seize new opportunities and drive sustained success in the digital age.