As the year draws to a close, there’s one thing at the top of everyone’s to-do list: 2017 planning. While organizations typically strategize new initiatives and budgets, they also resurface long-standing goals like enhancing productivity. 

Yet faced with a sea of solutions that claim to streamline workflows, decision makers often become more encumbered than effective at establishing a valuable productivity plan for their businesses and teams. Here are four strategies that can help you accomplish that goal by optimizing document workflows.

1. Simplify Your Approach

Instead of becoming overwhelmed with a complex plan to overhaul workflows, begin by identifying minor adjustments that can greatly impact productivity.

For instance, a common inefficiency that still plagues many workplaces is paper-based processes like printing, scanning and obtaining signatures. With the right digital tools and proper employee education, these outdated workflows can easily be modernized to save time and boost productivity.

Another simple way to streamline processes is to eliminate multiple tools that accomplish the same purpose. Try conducting a productivity audit to reveal redundancies that may be impacting productivity — not to mention security and collaboration.

After performing its own internal IT systems audit, one enterprise discovered 27 PDF-related solutions across the organization.

This knowledge enabled the company to weed out unnecessary tools and standardize on a single solution, simplifying employee workflows and saving a significant amount of IT time and resources previously spent on maintenance.

2. Choose Easy to Use Products & Solutions

Look for comprehensive, intuitive products that can meet all your needs without burdening IT and overwhelming users with excessive features.

In recent years, many enterprises have adapted agile work process underscored by a “simpler is better” approach. When choosing new tools, these organizations value lightweight technology, intuitive interfaces and user-friendly integrations that seamlessly mold to the way employees already work with little to no learning curve.

Hyper-focused applications — like Dropbox for sharing, Slack for communication and Trello for project tracking — each serve a specific purpose while also offering native integrations to tackle tasks beyond their scope.

3. Consider Cost

Whether a small business or a Fortune 500 organization, every company  is mindful of costs and building value. While big brands may offer name recognition, today’s innovative tech landscape offers plenty of equally effective, more cost-efficient options that are actually lighter, more agile and easier to use.

Learning Opportunities

A growing number of Fortune 500 companies are shirking the outdated, overly safe mentality that “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM,” and replacing it with a more research-driven approach to finding the best product for the best value.

Take an approaching contract renewal as an opportunity to assess your options, potentially lower your cost structure and explore some of the fresh up-and-comers making waves in the tech scene. You’ll often find it pays off.

4. Have an Implementation Plan

To maximize your return on investment, you want to ensure users across the organization use and optimize whatever new solution you implement.

While you can prepare for the transition by educating employees on the value and benefits of your chosen productivity tool, you shouldn’t have to bear the weight of change management alone.

Wanting a long-term strategy for user adoption, Fortune 500 companies look to their chosen vendor to help facilitate rollout, user training and onboarding. Selecting productivity applications that provide change management expertise, helpful resources and excellent customer success will play a key role in helping your new processes take hold across the organization.

In addition, solutions that provide user insights will help you measure performance to encourage best practices and ensure your new tool is making a positive difference.

These productivity insights can work just as well for the Fortune 500 as they can for businesses of every size — whether you have a few employees or a few hundred thousand. By implementing these strategies and taking an informed approach to modernizing processes, 2017 may just be your most productive year yet.

fa-solid fa-hand-paper Learn how you can join our contributor community.