European companies paying the price for poor document processes

Employees are frustrated by inefficient processes; signals that electronic signatures and other technologies are key to providing a better way.

Professionals across Europe are spending almost one day a week (6.8 hours) on office administration such as filling out forms, printing documents, and chasing for signatures, a new study from Adobe reveals. Seemingly simple document processes are complex and time-intensive, and as a result, are inhibiting business growth, draining productivity and wasting resources.

According to the research, business productivity is taking a significant hit, almost half of European employees (48 per cent) reporting that they have lost a contract all together due to office tasks going wrong, and one in three (33 per cent) forced to cancel a project due to the same problem—highlighting a significant area of concern for businesses.

The new report, Document Drain: How Back-Office Processes are Shredding Productivity, surveyed 7,000 professionals from businesses across Europe, found that time is being spent inefficiently, at a significant cost for businesses.

Basic office tasks such as printing and emailing documents have been labelled the biggest time culprits (96 per cent), while 75 per cent of employees say the processes around printing and emailing documents are boring, time-consuming or challenging.

Additionally, employees branded some admin as unnecessarily ‘complex,’ such as searching for lost documents (with 65 per cent of respondents agreeing), on-boarding new colleagues (62 per cent) and chasing for signatures (61 per cent).

Adobe’s Document Drain report also unveils the opportunity businesses have to digitally transform office admin—curbing much of the frustration in companies today. According to the study, digital solutions such as electronic signatures were recognised by 74 per cent of European employees as a valuable innovation in the workplace, while almost half of French (48 per cent), UK (45 per cent) and German (44 per cent) employees say mobile apps would be critical to solving document problems.

Interestingly, almost half of all European employees surveyed cite inefficient technology as the main driver behind office workflow issues—further underscoring the opportunity for smarter document technology and efficient, digital solutions.

‘Today’s findings are a big wake-up call for businesses across Europe. Outdated processes are draining employee productivity and morale—potentially leading to a loss of revenue and a poor customer experience,’ says John Travis, vice president of EMEA marketing at Adobe.

‘Reimagining administrative processes through apps, digital documents, and other technologies provides the opportunity for companies to transform the experience for employees and customers alike—and ultimately is an investment in future growth and success.’

European companies paying the price for poor document processes

Employees in Europe are currently spending significant time on office admin, with almost one day a week being devoted to these tasks (average 6.8 hours); France and Sweden are spending the most time (average of 7 hours).

European employees are inundated with office document processes that rarely go to plan, with 41 per cent of respondents indicating that raising POs, filling out forms and on-boarding colleagues all take much longer than they should.

There’s a better way to move business forward

Simplified digital processes such as electronic signatures were identified as a key solution in helping achieve higher productivity and more free time, with the majority of European employees (74 per cent) finding e-signatures to be valuable.

Interestingly, employees in The Netherlands valued e-signature technology the most (80 per cent), followed by professionals in the UK (77 per cent), Nordics (75 per cent), France (68%) and Germany (65 per cent).

Mobile apps have also been identified as a key way to revolutionise European offices as nearly half of French (49 per cent), UK (45 per cent) and German (44 per cent) office employees indicated they would improve their office workflows.

Freedom, not frustration

Modern professionals seek the freedom to work wherever and whenever they want. Document Drain found that many workers feel tied to the office, with two thirds (64 per cent) working late or on weekends (49 per cent) due to office admin not going to plan. Digital solutions such as e-signatures were thought to be valuable in speeding up processes—enabling employees to spend their time in other, more productive ways.

Country-by-country, European employees prefer to spend time lost on office admin differently. UK employees were more likely to be entrepreneurial and spend lost time on a side project (42 per cent), while French professionals would prefer to get away from the office and exercise (44 per cent).

Meanwhile, German respondents would use the extra time socialising with others (40 per cent). Finally, employees in the Nordics and The Netherlands would much rather turn this lost time into quality time with their partners (55 per cent and 52 per cent respectively).

Further reading on office admin and document processes

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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