In this column I will focus on a client case history that illustrates how redesigning workflow can make a significant difference in an organization’s print, copy, scan and mail operations. The story concerns a major law firm that wanted to realize a vision: implement business process improvements that, based on quality, innovation and advanced technology, would help the firm better concentrate on doing what it does best: practicing law.

The firm decided to work on a plan to reduce costs and headcount while improving service quality. After completing an assessment of specific processes and workflows, the project team created a plan and began implementing solutions for the firm’s print, copy, scan and mail operations.

One of the first changes was to reduce headcount from a total of 20, which the assessment found was excessive, to 16 that work in the firm’s headquarters location and a key regional office. Due to its higher level of expertise — supported by new processes — the current team now completes more work than the previous (higher) number of employees, and has dramatically cut subcontracting fees for external vendors, from approximately $12,000 per month to $100 per month. The project team also installed all new print/copy and scan equipment with features that have increased efficiency, speed and workflow capabilities.

These and other improvements reinforce one of the key areas in which the project team supports the firm: copying, printing and scanning vital legal documents, including closing books. The books are large, often totaling thousands of pages that include bookmarks, tabs, flip sheets and documents, such as surveys; they span multiple volumes and require copies to be circulated to various parties in relation to a major legal transaction, such as a merger and acquisition.

Closing books are traditionally prepared in binders or bound volumes, or they can be created electronically by converting data to PDF format. This allows for easier navigation and management of thousands of documents on a single CD or DVD. The project team receives all of the documents and coordinates the bookmarking, scanning, printing, assembly and delivery connected with producing closing books for the firm. The team also instituted a quality control system that solicits feedback from the firm’s end users. The system provides the executives with information, including which team members managed the quality control on a project, and also requests confirmation that the services provided met expectations and were completed on time. The key point: accountability is now established and a system exists for identifying and correcting mistakes and other issues, which helps to ensure high quality and continuous improvement going forward.

In addition to driving efficiency and cost benefits in the firm’s print processes, the project team also helped enhance mail management operations. This included implementing a plan that reduced nine daily mail runs down to five — all with zero service disruptions.

A key part of the success of this initiative was due to internal communications efforts. The project team kept the firm’s employees up to date via articles in the firm’s newsletter and by informing staff directly about developments during visits to the Service Center. Looking ahead, the project team plans to implement a digital intake center for the firm, currently targeted for next year. The solution involves a new workflow that includes opening select types of mail and scanning and emailing the documents to the recipients. This approach will make accessing mail faster and more efficient, and also significantly cut physical mail costs, including UPS and other courier service fees.

The team also plans to launch a customized web-based print job submission system. Attorneys and legal staff will be able to submit projects and complete them more easily, quickly and cost-effectively. The digital intake center and web-based print job submission system are just two examples of how redesigned workflows and new ideas are helping the firm realize its vision of innovation and continuous improvement.

These new approaches also have helped the firm reduce costs, streamline operations and reduce risk. Highlights of significant results include implementing more cost-efficient and higher quality print/copy/scanning processes for critical firm activities, such as the production of closing books and other vital documents.

Additionally, the team created a quality assurance system, which helps ensure accuracy, overall quality and continuous improvement. The reduction in headcount was achieved while increasing productivity and implementing new processes for the firm’s print/copy/mail center operation. Finally, there are potential future gains in the form of reduced costs and enhanced operational efficiency with the launch of new solutions, including a digital intake center and a web-based print job submission system.

Ken Neal
Ken Neal

is a certified enterprise content management practitioner (ecmp) and director of corporate communications for Canon Business Process Services, a leader in managed services and technology.