Monday Mar 25, 2013

Waiting on the paperwork...

Last Friday evening, I boarded a connecting flight as I made my way home across the country.  Tired yet relieved to be going home after working at an Oracle-sponsored industry event, I got on board and watched as every last bit of seating and storage space was consumed by fellow travelers.  We were then notified that the plane had a maintenance issue that was being investigated and within seconds, many of us on the plane were automatically notified of the new estimated departure time on our smartphones.  In terms of customer communication, so far so good!  The airline (who will remain unnamed) was informing customers promptly about an unforeseen issue and the customers responded by settling in with whatever reading material they had.

Within a half hour, we were notified that the problem was resolved.  But then, those dreaded words came across the PA system from the Captain. "We are ready to go, but we are waiting on the paper work."

Now the crowd emitted an audible groan.  Why is that?  In my case, when someone tells me that they are "waiting on the paper work", I immediately have an image of a slow, tedious, bureaucratic process requiring a manual approval.  Sure enough, we waited for quite a while as our now perfectly operational aircraft was held on the ground...  by paper.

What struck me as I loitered on the plane with my fellow passengers that night is that there are still, surprisingly, many business processes that rely on physical paper and manual signatures.  It's easy to think in this day and age that everything is now automated.  We live in a world of notifications and alerts, automatic updates, text messages, social collaboration and news feeds.  Yet at the same time, there are a myriad of areas in our personal and professional lives that rely on paper and pen.

In the case of airplane maintenance, procedures must be followed and documented.  There are industry and government mandated regulations that outline exactly how maintenance repairs are performed and formal records must be kept of every repair done on each plane for safety and legal reasons.  And yet with automated imaging, scanning and forms recognition solutions such as those available with Oracle WebCenter, these approved forms could be routed much faster. Management of the records and associated documents would also be more efficient and less prone to human error and possible loss or damage to the paper documents.

If there is room for improvement in business processes that directly impact customers at one of the world's largest airlines, what about your business?  Are you still relying on paper forms and documents in critical or regulated business processes?  How does this effect the customer experience you provide?

Oracle WebCenter provides a plethora of solutions for businesses looking to improve the customer experience. From Self-Service Portals to targeted Web Experience Management to Enterprise Content Management and yes, even Automated Imaging solutions that help you eliminate paper from your processes.  As a reader of this blog, we hope we have already helped you solve some of your business challenges and we look forward to helping you address more in the future as you strive to continuously improve.  Thank you for joining us!


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