Exciting new innovations are naturally the focus of any technology talk, and this is certainly true in the global mobility industry. The spotlight is currently on AI, thanks in no small part to the launch of ChatGPT. Integrations and APIs are also hot topics, and for good reason: at ECA, we are seeing an increasing number of organisations requesting integrations to harmonise processes across vendors, enhance data accuracy, improve the assignee experience, and free up time for strategic planning over operational tasks.
At the same time, the GM teams we work with are finding that it’s not only the ‘shiny new object’ technology making current headlines that can have a huge impact and reap significant rewards. There is a lot of untapped potential held in the tried and tested kinds of automation that you may not have got around to yet nor been able to prioritise in the past. Automating the generation and storage of assignment-related documents is a great example of this. It has been an easy win for many organisations we work with, and their experiences and challenges prior to implementing this solution are ones many will recognise.
When speaking to the companies who have automated document generation in their assignment management system, a common theme that comes up is what a big administrative burden it used to be to manually prepare documents.
Some mobility teams stored templates for various documents like assignment letters, policy exception agreements, and salary review letters in multiple locations across the company network. Sometimes there were different versions of these templates, but not everyone knew where to find the latest one. This often led to outdated copies being used accidentally. Once a template had been located, they then had to go through the time-consuming process of manually inputting the variables: the employee’s details, assignment information, and the details of the pay packet, etc. As with any manual process, this is vulnerable to errors.
For instance, one company gave the example of an incorrect notice period being included in a contract and going unnoticed until after the contract was signed and the assignment started. The company consequently found themselves under a legal obligation to honour a one-month notice period, which created uncertainty and additional workload for the employee, line manager, HR and legal teams. In another organisation, original templates were sometimes mistakenly overwritten. Even when caught in time, these kinds of errors cause delays and inconvenience. However, it’s easy to overlook misplaced data and mistakes, and if they aren’t spotted before reaching the assignees, they could have far-reaching consequences for the company – such as tarnishing its reputation, blighting the employee experience, incurring additional costs and resources, and even triggering a personal data breach.
The solution for these organisations, and others experiencing the same challenges, was to implement automated document generation in ECAEnterprise. They can now store a wide range of templates in their systems – such as assignment contracts, salary review letters and bonus statements for different types of mobile work, with multiple appendices, and in various languages – instead of having different templates chaotically spread across the company network.
Even location-specific rules are easily built-in; for example, if the company offers a benefit specific to assignees going to a certain location, the system can be programmed so that the relevant clause is automatically incorporated into all contracts for that location. The chosen template is automatically populated with the required variables in seconds, using data stored in the system – i.e. the employee’s name and personal details, where they are going on assignment, and compensation package details. The organisations who have implemented this have saved time and resources while reducing errors, and the advantages are substantial: mobility processes are more efficient and streamlined, freeing up time for strategic and value-added work, minimising compliance risks and, crucially, delivering a smoother employee experience for both the assignee and the GM team.
Document storage goes hand in hand with document generation. Once documents have been produced, the next task is to safely store them and make them available for secure access and sharing. Before automating document processes, many companies struggled with finalised contracts getting lost (much like the templates). As locating documents can be time-consuming, it not only creates frustration, but also poses compliance risks.
Companies who have automated their document management have now solved these issues. Once the documents have been generated in ECAEnterprise, they can be “locked” to disable further edits. This ensures the final document remains intact. Documents are saved under each employee’s profile so that they can easily be retrieved by authorised personnel. In addition to the contracts or letters generated within the system, companies can also upload other kinds of documents to the system such as copies of passports, visas, certificates, work permits, and tax-related documents – all of which are safely stored under the individual’s profile. These companies now know exactly where their highly sensitive documents are kept and can rest assured that they are compliant with data security requirements.
Taking it to the next level
Some of our clients who have adopted the ECAEnterprise document management module previously relied on an external, non-specialist document generator rather than manually filling out templates. However, they have discovered it is far more efficient to generate documents directly through their assignment management system. It also opens up a world of possibilities in terms of further automation. Some clients have taken document generation a step further by incorporating it into their workflow processes, with notifications being issued securely through the system. For example, once one stakeholder has generated a document, another is prompted to approve it, all without having to share the documents through nonsecure methods like emails.
Other companies have (or are working towards implementing) portals for various other stakeholders: for instance, HR, finance, payroll and vendors, as well as for the mobile workers themselves. Document management functionality complements portals nicely. Sensitive documents can be shared with all relevant parties securely and conveniently. Digital signatures streamline this even further.
So, while document generation and storage might not be the hottest topic in automation right now, it’s not one to disregard. By leveraging automation, GM teams can transform their processes from being admin-heavy, time-consuming, error-prone and nonsecure to streamlined, efficient, accurate and compliant.
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