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 Legacy is ‘Out of Date’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

So… just what is this ‘must have Utopia’ of EDMS in 2014?

We have all heard of EDMS and every other variation acronym and verbal malarkey about document management. Ever since the paper free concept came into reality in the 1980’s in ‘file systems’, versions variations and just plain mad ways of attaining this state of business serenity have come, gone, and had their day. Or have they?

Document management has certainly come a very long way from the early perception of simply scanning and retrieving documents to save storage space for the more wealthy enterprises of the 1980’s.

Today we are faced with a dazzling array of digital capability, from being able to remove coffee stains and creases on a paper document thus improving its ‘digital condition’, (Threshholding) to being able to OCR (Optical Character Recognition) a document so that every single word phrase or even the intent contained therein, can now be search for remotely, and presented within solutions such as those in the eDiscovery and eRetrieval market place.

The original idea is still there and the ‘paper free utopia’ is still something all businesses of any size must in truth attain if they are to be remotely competitive in today’s business world, but why was this so very complicated to achieve, if indeed we have? What has sullied the wonderfully simple vision of the 1980’s of a truly paper free business world, and why on earth have we not attained it…..? Read the whole article here: So just what is ‘must have’ about ‘EDMS’

Document Storage According to PDF/A Government Standards…

In January 2014, as part of the open standards initiative, the UK government stated that PDF/A should be the proffered choice for non-editable documents. For all non-editable documents, it states that PDF/A should be used as default. PDF 1.7 used where rich functionality set is required.

So, just to clarify this, PDF/A is an ISO-standardized version of the Portable Document Format (PDF) specialized for the long term digital preservation of electronic documents.

PDF/A differs from PDF by omitting features ‘ill-suited to long-term archiving’, such as font linking as opposed to font embedding.

The ISO requirements for PDF/A file viewers include colour management guidelines, support for embedded fonts, and a user interface for reading embedded annotations. PDF/A is designed to give a minimal feature set to enable long term storage assuming that storage formats will vary in future rendering a full PDF document either partially or totally unreadable.

More information is on (http://standards.data.gov.uk/proposals/viewing-governments) cabinet office website.

It is remarkably easy to save documents into this format, but the big question is still where and how you store them so they are perfectly readable in 7, 15 or 40 years. The cost of storing printed documents is astronomical in relation to the term or time frames required. Figures from £150 to £450 per A4 box per year including some access, are regularly banded around.

Electronic storage in a web based document archive has to be the best solution for the digital age. With costs of less than £4,800 for a Perpetual 10 user fully compliant document storage and management system, (http://digitalprocess.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/IR-Web-based-Document-Management-2013.pdf) companies can create their own totally resilient archive for any time frames governance requires. Documents can now be scanned into this easily and free of charge, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is now fixed, very low, and the documents have an endless fully secure life span if required. Strong administration rights access is a must, and sometimes forgotten, as human error is often the cause of ‘lost’ digital documents. Now a full HTML document archive can be managed by folder, library or even by document and a full ISO audit trail of who did what and when is logged.

Being ‘an unbalanced force’ is good for business!

‘An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force.’ – Newtons First Law of Motion, The Law of Inertia.

We all know that business improvements can be made to our processes, be that how we manage an HR record or how we compliantly process a nurses HR record between job moves, or something as simple as storing maintenance records or archive medical records or how a task or purchase invoice is processed across a team of people.

One thing is for certain. If we do nothing, then nothing will change or improve. That ‘unbalanced force’ Newton talked about needs be you. That is the only way that improvements to how efficiently we work, how effective our department is, and how enjoyable peoples jobs are, will come about.

So see further, stand on Newtons shoulders and improve.

 

TCO & ROI are VIP’s!….

Very Important Points..I know, sorry. We have just had a very interesting case whereby the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) had been completely forgotten within the purchasing equation for a Work Flow and document management (approval) system. It does make one wonder sometimes, but it was very interesting comparing 3 other EDM/DM systems (for Higher Education), as the other maintenance and ongoing licensing costs were ridiculous over the 10 year life of the system. InfoRouter wins again, hands down, and delivered a lower IT investment time/cost by 45%, as well as only 20% of the average training costs of the other systems. If the TCO goes down, then your ROI (Return on Investment) goes up.

Students to have a unique digital ID at University

An interesting proposal and discussion with a University recently highlighted the potentially substantial cost savings and business efficiencies in providing students a unique digital ID within the Universities digital document & records management and Work Flow system. In a move to drive efficiencies and reduce costs, this highlighted the need to adopt digital technology in how we physically move and manage documented information around a business enterprise. The ‘Time Limitation Factor’ and the need to deliver efficiency for staff and students alike is a growing challenge on campuses.

The key benefit here is that a single low cost solution would enable staff and students to send and receive information directly to their unique ID, we all have web browsers about our person today, thus eliminating the lost, not received, did not know scenario’s that cost time and cause costly delays. This conversation expanded to the University staff who can now deliver course work, information, projects and all manner of information to a single group of students fast and effectively in a single action.

The idea that all of this happens within a secure, managed, easy to use web browser based system, with strong rights access management and an audit trail, means the challenges of compliance and legislation are fully met.

Extending this to cater for the needs of Staff, Suppliers, The Directorate and other University departments, even invoice management and processing, all within different secure libraries of the same system means that people can now be connected digitally, without the need for multiple systems. Connection to existing ERP systems is easy, and the tasks of creating, managing sending and receiving information efficiently is finally conquered. With WebDav and MS Office plug ins, user adoption is always a concern but with most people being fully proficient in just 60 minutes of use, user adoption is very quick. Training costs are another concern today, but with a web based system, with 1,000’s of clients worldwide, training video’s and information are more than plentiful.

The value delivered by a sub £35,000 document management solution for 100’s of users, is truly in the £100,000’s per year. The next steps are a full evaluation across several departments, the result of which we will report as soon as we know.

 

Collaborative working….the real advantage.

Those who successfully collaborate, engage in and value conversation. They actively seek self knowledge, and a way to learn how to accomplish more…

That has to be the key here, in business. ‘To accomplish more’. Sounds great I know, but it is shall we say, ‘not hard’ to achieve given the right tools and process to follow. Being able to join together and work together but remotely in improving a business process, or defining a better way to accomplish a key business need, or even something as simple as creating a form or template that the staff will actually use and adopt, is key.

The key here is to drive more collaboration, from more people, across more of the business, but in a clear defined and structured way. Now, that clear defined and structured way may be a tool such as InfoRouter, but whatever it is, you have to make sure it is easy to use, so it’s easy to adopt, and that is captures everything, from everyone, and everyone can see the process evolve.

If everyone in the team, be that a project team or department management, are involved contributing and thus collaborating, then you will accomplish more, and you will do it with more buy in and more momentum internally, which means you will accomplish it much faster.

Collaboration saves us time, and time is the real advantage. The one thing, we can not create.

Savings the NHS £100,000’s….

Delivering ‘True’ cost savings to NHS Trusts, is so much easier thanks to modern technology, if only it was actually adopted and used.

Having visited most of the NHS Trusts in the Uk, I have seen precisely where in several departments real money can be saved, and where real staff efficiencies can be delivered fast. It is not difficult, where HR departments are still paper based, and business processes are long man hours intensive and complex due simply to the past.

An investment of just £15,000 across an NHS HR department would save around £150,000 per year in staff hours alone, based on say 10 people using a paper /shared drive based methodology. Having witnessed teams of administrators busily entering manual information from paper into a shared drive, week after week, over using an automated scanning and paper-lite document management system, where 1 person can do 6 peoples work, knowing where and how to save money is the easy part. Changing the mind set of departmental managers to adopt these simple web based solutions is the real challenge.

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February 4, 2015

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 Read more…

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