A major obstacle to financial information workflows is speed of access. The cost of manual labour within financial organisations is an under-acknowledged burden. When staff are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time in discovery, business processes can slow dramatically and overall expenses can inflate beyond acceptable limits.

In a study published by the IDC in 2012, Melissa Webster exposed the amount of time information workers were spending just on document-related challenges: more than 11 hours per week – with 2.3 hours being spent looking for things that were never found. And even if they did find what they were looking for, she wrote, [challenges related to collaboration added] up to seven hours of wasted time each week (or 14.2% of the work week) at an annual cost of [AU$10,629] per information worker.”

Digitisation has progressed rapidly since then, revolutionising the way businesses operate, so we might expect efficiency of access to have increased accordingly. Not so, say the information management experts. Staff are still spending up to 30% of their day chasing down physical copies of documents. Delays that were once the result of a lack of automation are now caused by a dearth of information that is indexed poorly, or not at all.

Michael Dinh, an executive for Colonial First State, is clear about this difficulty: “In big financial organisations, it can often be challenging to track down what you need quickly. It’s a natural part of working with large systems. You know the information exists, but sourcing it takes time.”

The opportunity cost of unnecessary legwork is a problem for the industry as a whole. But more significantly, it has a major impact on response times – and therefore customer satisfaction.

The solution? An information management partner with a secure in-house fleet and workforce model can help deliver information faster, and with greater frequency. They are also speed-conscious when it comes to making their systems easy for clients to access and utilise, automating much of the document retrieval and management process. Interfaces are intuitive and responsive, with indexing that integrates seamlessly with that of their clients. A smart solution not only makes searching faster, but delivers information in a way that eliminates long wait times and the need for document reformatting.

Perhaps the most attractive benefit to most businesses is the dramatic increase in productivity and efficiency that comes from better information management. There may still be a wait time for physical documents, but the time is almost entirely taken up by the transit process, and no longer by staff searching in vain for files that may not even exist. With document retrieval outsourced, paid staff can get on with other tasks.

A more streamlined and intuitive electronic document access system also naturally increases information retrieval speeds. Off-site electronic information storage doesn’t necessarily need to offer a higher transfer rate to be faster either – just the knowledge that all data has been consolidated inside a single system can greatly improve staff efficiency.

Find out more in Grace’s FREE in-depth information management report for the finance industry – available exclusively at www.grace.com.au/information/finance