5 ‘Points of Value’ for Electronic Document Management in 2015

5 ‘Points of Value’ for Electronic ‘Collaborative’ Document Management in 2015

We think they have the ‘document management topic’ put to bed these days, but if we are brutally honest, things are not really that much better. We seem to have just ‘re located’ or ‘re distributed’ the issue to other areas and managed to hide or disguise the issue a little better.

The fundamental issues still exist, and are fast becoming a major factor in the competitiveness and even survival of a business in the era of big data and global digital connectivity.

Allow us to highlight 5 areas that are still not fully considered or understood in enterprise document collaboration and management.

1. Overwhelmed by Data

First, some facts. Apparently 57% of UK employees ‘feel’ bombarded by information and struggle to cope with their daily data volumes. 28% admit they waste a lot of time searching for data, 21% can not even locate the most recent version, and that is not a good prognosis for 2015.

We still seem to have data all over the place these days, from CRM platforms, to file servers, and remote pc’s, Dropbox, and a host of other locations, all at the same time, via more passwords than we can remember. Let’s not get into PDA’s and mobile devices, as that only adds to the issues.

It is now way past time to have the company data in a single secure location, under management, with the users clearly defined and access rights granted accordingly, so that interactions with the data are known, tracked, auditable and visible.

If a user knows they can access all the data they need, over the web or network, from a single location, they can then use ‘within application’ tools like Work Flows, Task Management, ISO Document audit, MS Office etc. to accomplish the key tasks they need.

Surely that makes more sense, and would ease the pressure on both the user and the company? The cost savings on this strict process are colossal, and let’s not start on the business efficiencies that can be delivered. Finally, people know where everything is, how to get to it, and they can access it any time they want.

2. Legacy is ‘Out of Date’

Legacy is still the main stumbling block for most business and we see companies just waking up and state they are adopting SharePoint or some other monolith of ambiguity to try and built in cost savings and become more competitive in their market place. It really is soul destroying, and we hear it over and over.

Companies Universities and the public sector squander £100,000s on large complex BPM and EDMS solutions, and then 12 months later, they are still shipping 1,000 of boxes of paper to storage companies whose shares rocket on the ineptitude of others, and the legacy system is still alive and limping.

If you take SharePoint and consider Microsoft’s own sponsored IDC survey, it said that only 7% of the total cost for on premise licencing came from software licensing. Hardware consultancy and training accounted for 33% and the largest component was staffing, at 70%. Well someone has to develop and built it, right?
Don’t people understand that SharePoint is a very expensive option? It is not ‘built for purpose’, and it is not an ‘out of the box’ type solution with compliant pre defined functionality.

3. Security of Data

Companies and directors that are still allowing and indeed promoting the sending of key documents and data outside of their enterprise, have to wake up to the consequences of this legacy habit. It is total madness in today’s highly risky ‘malware’ infested world, to be sending highly important information via email to other parties, who usually sit in the same building or even on the same floor as the sender, but it still happens every second of the day.
Apparently, 70% of people in the UK send email attachments when sharing documents. Email is not a collaboration tool, but an unsecure communications system, that has become the primary means of sending data to and from people, no matter how secret, valuable or confidential.
Add to this the fact that 91% of users use their external personal device to store, access, and share documents, and 64% store documents on external hard drives, and the recipe for disaster is complete.

Archaic data collaboration methods (File Servers, SharePoint, Email, DropBox etc.) are heavy on data management costs, costly and cumbersome to implement and manage, (did someone say develop?) and highly risky as hackers can more easily access the multiple remote data sites. There is rarely any audit or tracking on any data contained therein further adding to the lack of visibility. Limited IT resources simply can not be responsible for and manage external data repositories and yet still this is allowed and proposed.

The only way to securely manage, leverage and collaborate with data in today’s high pressured, competitive and fast pace commercial world, is to enable the people to easily and securely come to the data. It is not by sending the data in question around the world to the people. It really is that simple.
Secure the data in a known location, and then enable authorised users access to the data and allow within application tools like work flow, task allocation, MS Office, ISO check in-out etc. to track and provide an audit trail of document based actions. That way, IT can build a secure environment where data is not leaving and entering every 30 seconds, and authorised users become the moving factors.

Security is then very tight indeed, the companies IP (data, proposals, costs, negotiations, confidential information etc.) is secure and now fully managed, and all interactions are known.

User access can be given to an entire library, a folder, a single document and even timed for secure access to a pre defined person. Web portals, again managed and secure in their own right, can be used for third party access for suppliers, contractors, thus ensuring only the data made available on the portal can be accessed.

4. No Boundaries, No Borders

In our digital 21st century, there are no longer boundaries or borders within the working enterprise. People are working at all times of the day, from everywhere in the world. That said, these staff, directors and third parties still need access to key data quickly and securely. They need to collaborate and work with other users, or assign and complete tasks, or manage teams. Now add to this the compliance and numerous regulation overheads, and it is easy to understand why the data simply has to stay static.

Users should be able to access anything they need via a single secure pre defined web browser or VPN, from where they can accomplish all that they need to. This approach enables mobile tablets and PDA devises to be used fully, and reduces the access method to industry standard HTML5 or 6.
SharePoint and collaborative working are not the best of friends, and with VPNs, Firewalls and bespoke IT configurations, accessing data is just not easy with legacy systems. This is a major factor, as users will revert back to the Email system to move data around, if they can not accomplish what they need to do easily.

User Adoption is a key driving factor in getting the users to adopt ‘as their own’, that which the company wants them to use. SharePoint and other bespoke systems are never intuitive, and large training costs only add to the significant cost of failure.

As an indication of good user adoption, one global system called InfoRouter delivers a ‘proficient user’ in just 45 minutes of use, with an almost 100% adopted uptake within 1 week. This means users like what they see, understand how to use it and get the most from it quickly to help them in their roles. Now that is powerful.

5. The Costly ‘Knee Jerk Reactions’ Must Stop

We see it in the press every day and hear about the latest failure of xyz company or public sector organisation, who has just pulled an IT EDM/BPM project after £x million of wasted funding.

Jumping to buy a high end total solution (via ITT or not) that gives a wide range of widgets and functionality is never the best solution in this fast moving digital web based world. Companies have to move away from large legacy systems, re think and start at the bottom of the functionality ‘hill’ and ask, what is it the users actually need, not what do IT want to deliver, or what a particular company is selling into us this month.

Large complex EDM/BPM solutions in public sector has hindered business efficiency growth more than anything, and we have seen NHS Trusts spend £500k plus on 2 x EDM systems, to still 2 or 3 years later be sending 1,000 of boxes of paper to costly storage quarter after quarter. The Email data overhead growns, and very little improves in real terms. Going big is not the answer. Starting small and growing in tune with requirements is by far the more effective method here.

The Answer is not Complex or Costly

The ideal solution is different for every situation, but one thing is for certain. Certain key functionality factors are required by individuals as a minimum, and if staff had these ‘capabilities’ in a simple compliant digital system, they would perform better, be more effective and the business would benefit hugely.

This ‘functionality list’ is usually very small in truth. We see these as the most asked for in the UK today.

Web Based, Secure, Intuitive, User Adoption, Work Flow, Task Management, Audit Trail, Compliance for ISO & BSI, Version Control, Strong Admin Rights, All Formats, MS Office, Template Management, Web Portal, ODBC (so it can connect with other systems) WebDAV (so it can be compliantly developed to deliver as the business develops) and more importantly, ‘Out of the Box’, and ‘Built for Purpose’.

Now, these key items can be delivered for very little, and we don’t mean £100,000s but more in tune with £10,000’s, as technology has moved so fast and global web based API tools are now much more available. Who needs ‘big brand names’, and who can afford them in todays cost sensitive market place.

Robert Peat
Managing Director
Digital Process Limited

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