Thanks to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses find themselves in urgent need of a digital transformation to stay afloat. This includes both organizations who were previously interested in the idea but who didn’t think it would happen quite so quickly, along with those who never really gave it much thought at all.
Regardless, your IT department will play a crucial role in determining whether your own transformation is the success you need it to be or the failure you fear it might become. More specifically, there are six core IT department roles that will be instrumental in guiding your organization’s digital transformation.
By far, one of the most important contributors to the success of your digital transformation comes down to the cloud specialists you choose to surround yourself with.
Remember that these professionals are tasked with doing more than just managing the migration of information and services from one platform to another. They also need to be on hand to quickly troubleshoot any issues, to help team members navigate the cloud environment, and to help mitigate risk for your rapidly transforming organization. This is especially true during the COVID-19 era, where industries are constantly evolving in new and unexpected ways and businesses have to evolve just as quickly to stay ahead in increasingly uncertain times.
Another invaluable role during your digital transformation will be that of the system integrators. These IT professionals will need to customize the employee experience before, during, and after the digital transformation itself, carefully selecting the best combination of hardware, software, networking, and storage products to support your people and the important work they’re doing on a daily basis.
In a best-case scenario, systems integrators will be able to create a highly specialized experience that not only meets your business’ needs as they exist today, but that also makes sure your technology is finally aligned with your long-term business goals — which is a big part of what your digital transformation is supposed to accomplish, to begin with.
Any digital transformation always brings with it a certain degree of risk in terms of cybersecurity, which is why another one of the most important IT department roles that can mean the difference between success and failure will ultimately come down to your information security team.
As more and more information and activity happen within a cloud-based, “anytime/anywhere” infrastructure, security must become and remain a top priority no matter what. Information security specialists can not only help come up with a cybersecurity strategy that makes the most sense given your environment, but they can also monitor for any suspicious activity to help stop small problems today before they have a chance to become potentially catastrophic ones tomorrow.
Hidden inside the massive volumes of data that your business is creating on a daily basis is a treasure trove of insight that would have otherwise gone undiscovered. This is especially true during a digital transformation when you need access to current and high-value information to make the most informed decisions possible every day.
Data analysts help enormously to that end by retrieving, gathering, and analyzing data — all of which allows you to take a more organic data-driven approach to what you’re doing. Not only can they spot important patterns and better understand how certain activities impact your business, but they can also make smarter recommendations on how to improve your operations to help you reach your long-term goals more efficiently than ever.
The User Experience (UX)
User experience designers also have a crucial role to play in your digital transformation by capitalizing on opportunities to improve not only the accessibility of your system but its usability and interaction potential as well. In a larger sense, they’re tasked with providing all of your users with the best possible experience that they can — all so that your employees can spend less time trying to figure out how to get their technology to work and instead focus on putting that technology to work for them.
This is once again particularly important during COVID-19, given the fact that your online experience is essentially the only experience that you’re able to offer your employees for the foreseeable future. Therefore, user experience designers are critical to not only help make sure that your digital transformation goes off without a hitch but to do so in a way that also makes sure that your employees have access to everything they need to do their jobs every day.
Finally, we arrive at information management specialists, otherwise known as the hardworking men and women who are tasked with making sure that data is flowing freely across your organization at all times.
Especially when you’re talking about something as important as digital transformation, you cannot afford to deal with data silos at any point. If you’re not sure where information is or even what is important and what isn’t, it’s difficult to make sure that everything transitions from one system to another as securely and as smoothly as possible. Information management specialists can leverage solutions like M-Files to bring all of your data together, regardless of where it might be stored. An information management platform like M-Files will create a single data repository for all of your important files, regardless of whether they’re stored in the cloud, on personal drives, on network shares, or on something else entirely.
In the end, any digital transformation will always be a time-consuming and somewhat stressful process, but that is especially true during the COVID-19 era when more people are working remotely than ever. But by making sure that these six core IT department roles are filled before, during, and after the transition, you’ll have put your business in an excellent position to enjoy all of the benefits of this process with a few of the potential downsides as possible.
One of the worst things about getting your maintenance budget cut is all the questions.
Do I need to lay off staff? How can we hit our targets with fewer resources? What projects are essential and what can wait? Is my job safe?
It’s enough to keep you up at night for a while.
We talked to a few experts who’ve been there before. They told us how they managed a smaller maintenance budget while hitting their targets, keeping up with preventive maintenance, and avoiding staff burnout.
How to find extra room in your budget
#1 – Find it in your storeroom
Pay close attention to your inventory minimums when restocking parts and supplies, says Joe McVay, an Implementation Consultant at Fiix with experience in facility maintenance.
“Many organizations don’t realize how much cash flow is tied up in inventory in the warehouse that could be bought just-in-time from multiple vendors without interrupting the business,” says Joe.
Look for parts in your storeroom that are either not immediately critical or can be easily sourced from vendors with short lead-times. Adjust your purchasing schedule accordingly so you’re not spending money on unnecessary inventory.
Many vendors also offer ‘keep stock’ programs, says Joe. These programs guarantee the availability of parts without adding them to your books until you need them. This gives you short-term flexibility in your budget without the risk.
#2: Find it in your schedule
Preventive maintenance is great, but too much will cost you. You can reduce the cost of labor and parts without sacrificing asset health by cutting unnecessary PMs, says Charles Rogers, Fiix’s Senior Implementation Consultant with over 33 years of experience in maintenance.
“If your regular inspections aren’t finding something wrong with an asset, you can probably do them less often,” says Charles.
He recommends looking first at scheduled maintenance based on OEM guidelines. These PMs are more likely to have room for improvement because they weren’t created with your specific use case in mind. Monitor any PMs you change to make sure failure rates don’t increase.
#3: Find it in your work orders
Increasing wrench time helps you stretch your maintenance budget further, says Rob Kalwarowsky, a Reliability Engineer and Asset Manager.
Rob suggests calculating wrench time for all work, starting with jobs that have higher labor costs. Flag areas where wrench time is low. The average wrench time is 20% and 40% is world-class, says Rob.
“Once you have this baseline you can trace the cause of low wrench time to a root cause and tweak your schedules and processes to bridge that gap,” says Rob.
Increasing wrench time by a few percentage points across hundreds of repairs and PMs can save you thousands of dollars in labor and make up for some of your lost budget. And when maintenance is quicker, production gets more uptime. It’s a win-win for everyone.
#4: Find it in your processes
Your budget gets a little tighter every time a highly skilled technician stops what they’re doing to complete a routine task. That’s why Jason Afara, a Solutions Engineer at Fiix and former maintenance manager, suggests training operators to do routine maintenance.
“Operators know their machines best,” says Jason, “Give them the power to inspect machines…and do light maintenance that would otherwise take up your time.”
Not only will a few hours of training save you money in the long term, but it also helps you catch equipment failure earlier and prevent emergency maintenance, which eats into your budget.
#5: Find it in your people
This is another gem from Rob and it’s all about communication, engaging staff, and leading by example.
“You’re cutting maintenance that [your staff] believe they should be doing,” says Rob. “That’s going to have a negative impact.”
Low morale is more than some extra grumbling in the break room. It creates fear, mistrust, and information gaps, says Rob. When you’re missing the whole picture, you can’t see problems and prioritize work, which is essential after maintenance budget cuts.
“You need to foster a low-fear, high-trust environment so people can tell you exactly what’s happening on the shop floor,” says Rob.
Here are some ways to do that:
Book a regular meeting with staff to talk about concerns, roadblocks, solutions, and successes. It might take time for everyone to feel comfortable sharing. That means you could be the only one talking for a little while.
Stop playing the blame game. If a critical work order wasn’t done on time, talk to your technicians, find out what held them back, and think of a way to prevent it from happening again.
Create metrics that have nothing to do with efficiency. Your technicians need to know they’re being measured on how well they collaborate, identify problems, and work to find solutions. It tells your team that you care about them as much as the bottom line.
How to convince your boss to increase the maintenance budget
Getting a bigger maintenance budget is tough, but not impossible. We put together a few tried and tested strategies that other maintenance teams have used to score extra resources. They’ll help you change minds, make your case, and get the budget you need.
If you’re strapped for cash, you’re probably also strapped for time. That means backlog. Lots of backlog. The good news is, it’s easy to get people on board with fixing this problem if you have the right data.
Start by tracking your preventive maintenance backlog in hours. Compare this number to the available hours for your workforce to determine the gap between the two.
The next step is to show how backlog impacts the business. Track mean time between failure and the cost of breakdowns. When MTBF goes up because you’re missing maintenance, it means more downtime and less production.
Use this data when you’re asking for the budget to hire an extra person, offer more overtime, or spend more on contractors. This is what worked for Tom Dufton, a maintenance and project manager at food manufacturer Perth Country Ingredients:
Using clean start-ups to justify higher labor costs
Other areas of your business suffer when the maintenance budget is cut. Your staff is spread thin, work is rushed (or missed), and equipment fails. Tracking clean start-ups is one way to prove this and get the extra cash you need to prevent it.
Clean start-ups was a key metric for Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s Director of Solutions Engineering, during his time as a production line manager at Proctor and Gamble. This KPI not only united maintenance and operations, but also tied directly to financial targets. That always gets people’s attention.
Unfortunately, clean start-ups are hard to achieve without the time, people, and resources to do proper maintenance, which takes money.
Making your case for this money starts with calculating the cost of lost time and production from poor start-ups for all machines across a full year. Compare this to the lower cost of extra people and resources to achieve clean start-ups.
Using time tracking metrics to show the ROI of technology
Administrative tasks waste time and money. If your technicians spend an hour a day writing work orders, that’s an hour of lost efficiency you’re paying for. So while it might seem cheaper to do everything by hand instead of with technology, it’ll cost you more in the long run.
Things like sensors and CMMS software come with a price tag. Getting an increase in your maintenance budget for these purchases starts with tracking the amount of time your team spends on administrative tasks. Then find out how much time you’d save with software.
The final step is to highlight how you would use this extra time and the impact that would have on company targets. For example, if you were able to do one more PM per day, how much more uptime could the company gain.
This was the strategy used by the maintenance team at Rambler Metals & Mining. The company was able to slash the time spent on administrative tasks by 15% after implementing a CMMS. They were able to do more preventive maintenance and reduce equipment failure.
Everything you just read in three sentences
1. Eliminating waste, whether it’s parts you don’t need or delays in your work, is crucial when dealing with maintenance budget cuts.
2. Don’t forget to communicate with your team, include them in decision-making, and be open to feedback so you can avoid a toxic work environment.
3. If you’re asking for an increase in your maintenance budget, lean on numbers to prove the value of maintenance and highlight what your company is losing by not investing in maintenance.
According to Nitro, workers spend an average of 50% of their time creating and preparing documents. Yet, document issues account for more than 21% of daily productivity loss.
Businesses depend on information — documents, files, data, content… everything. It is the lifeblood of just about every organization. The past few years have seen a reckoning for companies in how they capture, store, structure, and disseminate information within the organization. The explosion of information across the enterprise has made it an IT issue that cannot be ignored.
The reason is simple… unstructured data is generated at an alarming rate and it’s burrowed away in siloed applications — think email, chat logs, network drives, CRM. This combined with the huge rise of remote work in 2020 has put intelligent information management solutions like M-Files in the spotlight. The way these solutions combat the problem is revolutionary, featuring transformative capabilities like AI-enabled tagging and collation of content across otherwise disconnected repositories.
To put it into proper perspective, let’s examine the obstacles to efficient information management and the six trends you can expect in 2021.
Pervasive (but Not New) Challenges in Information Management for 2021
Companies are consistently battling several information management challenges, elucidating the need to combat them with a frontline intelligent information management system. Top of the list of challenges are:
A flood of unstructured data — all information not contained in tidy databases, the information contained in documents, PowerPoints, email attachments, email messages, chat logs
Difficulty in organizing and classifying data, especially in a traditional hierarchy of file folders and subfolders
Content scattered across the entire information landscape in siloed systems and applications, like a wasteland of misfit documents
Hopefully, some of the trends mentioned below will help ameliorate some of these challenges.
Improving Information Findability with Federated Search
Over 60% of information workers needed to access at least four systems, according to CMSWire. Federated search describes a search technology that can scan several sources for information at the same time. By default, federated search capabilities are baked into the M-Files solution. M-Files doesn’t care where your documents are. Searches can be completed across all company information silos to return results, regardless of where the files live. That’s the power of focusing on content over location — decoupling the content from its repository.
AI-Enabled Information Management Functions
Artificial intelligence is ever-present in many technologies we use, and information management is another technology that has a prominent place now for AI. It’s especially useful in a few ways: AI can comb through large amounts of data, for personally identifiable information as an example, and AI can suggest metadata tags to help classify data.
M-Files has spent extensive resources to stay on the bleeding edge of AI in information management. M-Files offers several intelligence services that will help you automate your office work.
M-Files Smart Classifier: Automatically suggests a Class for an object, such as “Template”, “Agreement”, or “Offer”
M-Files Information Extractor: Automatically scans through the content of a document to suggest relevant metadata
M-Files Image Analysis: Automatically examines the image to suggest captions, categories, tags, and facial analysis results as metadata suggestions
The Rise of Anywhere, Anytime Access to Information
The year 2020 will go down in the history books. The whole world was shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and for businesses, this meant deploying a large remote workforce to ensure business continuity. It put into stark contrast those that were ready with digital transformation and those that were behind the curve.
Knowledge workers needed remote access to company information and files. They needed the same experience from home as they would at the office. By far, the number one most vital part of any successful remote, flexible work strategy has to do with a true information platform at the center. At its core, an information management system is precisely what it sounds like — a solution designed to facilitate not only the storage of critical data but also the organization and retrieval of that same information.
M-Files provides remote access to information from anywhere in the world and from any device. Now, employees can work from anywhere — the hotel, their home, an airport, a client location… anywhere.
Much like remote work and remote access, flexible and diverse tools that enable hassle-free collaboration will be an indispensable part of a company’s tool stack. As traditional working models shift to a collaboration-centric model, intelligent information management tools like M-Files are needed to enable that shift.
But we’ve moved past just enabling collaboration into an era of optimizing it. From sharing documents to tracking tasks to co-authoring, these technologies ease the burden of collaborating, even in a remote work environment.
Connecting Disparate Information Silos
Employees shouldn’t have to toggle between applications, programs, and tools to find the information they need. M-Files and the Intelligent Metadata Layer deliver a simple, unified user experience for modern information management. You can browse data in all connected systems and repositories, whether in the cloud or on-premises with the same user interface — something that other ECM solutions don’t offer.
Friendly and Attractive User-Interface
Now that information management solutions have reached a certain level of maturity, part of the focus has shifted to creating a sleek user experience. Users have become spoiled by Netflix, Amazon, Google, and others and they now expect dynamite user interfaces in business, just as they have in their personal lives.
In 2021, M-Files has put the focus on the UI and the experience — highlighted first by M-Files’ new and improved web interface. It’s a trend that will pervade information management solutions of all types and sizes — lest they be bested by competitors that will put the proper resources into intelligent UI design.
As you gear up to take advantage of these emerging trends, you might be interested in exploring the M-Files intelligent information management solution. M-Files goes beyond traditional ECM — automate manual workflows and allow employees to work more productively, and M-Files is equipped with out-of-the-box, built-in AI to help classify and find information. Ultimately, M-Files helps organizations find and manage business-critical documents and information from any device, no matter where it’s stored — preparing your organization for anything 2021 might throw at you.
The sea of cubicles is quieter than normal. All eyes seem to be turned toward the conference rooms at the far end of the room, where strangers in suits approach carrying cases of computer equipment. They enter the appointed spaces and close the door, where a sign printed on plain white paper is taped.
“This room is reserved indefinitely.”
This isn’t fiction; it’s a scene I witnessed firsthand working inside the financial services industry. While the silence and anxiety were more centered around the fact that one of our most precious resources – a 10-person conference room – was likely out of circulation for months, there was definitely a sense of trepidation as the regulators went to work.
I recalled that scene several times as we worked on the 2021 Nuix Global Regulator Report alongside Ari Kaplan Advisors. How valuable would the insights in the report have been for our business unit during those months of meeting our obligations to the regulators? How much anxiety would have been put to rest? Most importantly, how quickly would we have gotten that conference room back?
RESPONDING TO REGULATORS MORE EFFECTIVELY
During a Q&A webinar about the report, chief report author Ari Kaplan and Stu Clarke, Regional Director – Northern Europe at Nuix, addressed the topic of corporations working more effectively with regulators.
Based on their conversations with regulators, it became clear that regulated corporations should take control of their environment. “Holistically, it makes life much easier when an inquiry kicks off,” Stu said. “They have a much better understanding of where risks lie and where employees are working inside the organization,” making it that much easier to respond to inquiries.
It also helps to look at regulators as guides who are there to advise the company, not just punish it when it goes astray. Summarizing some of the comments during the webinar, regulators have a role to inform and guide the organizations they are responsible for. There’s a desire amongst the regulators to work more collaboratively and build an ongoing relationship, not just swoop in during a one-time event.
It also helps to understand where the regulators are coming from. “The regulators are incredibly savvy and have experience in private industry,” Ari said. “They are well-versed in the various tools and they talk to each other.”
HANDLING A CONSTANTLY CHANGING ENVIRONMENT
The regulatory environment adapts as the realities of day-to-day business change. “Things change rapidly,” Stu said. For example, “we weren’t talking about Microsoft Teams two years ago, and we can’t stop talking about it or using it now.”
Those changes are just another set of reasons to better understand what the regulators are looking for. Download the 2021 Nuix Global Regulator Report to learn more about regulators’ approaches to their respective industries, preferred technology and enforcement practices, all of which can help you work more efficiently during a regulatory inquiry.
One of the most important things that business leaders need to realize is that outdated technology – especially a document management solution – isn’t just frustrating. It can literally be costing organizations money in more ways than one. In this article, we’ll discuss four benefits of a document management system.
The sheer volume of information that your average enterprise is creating on a daily basis is enormous — to the point where simply keeping track of it all can be an uphill battle. Without the right type of document management structure in place, your employees quickly become overwhelmed by your data, rather than using it to help move your business forward.
Luckily, the right document management system like M-Files can help relieve these issues in businesses in nearly every industry. In fact, a document management system will bring with it a number of distinct benefits and opportunities, all of which are worth a closer look.
The 4 Benefits of a Document Management System
Empowering Compliance Capabilities
Depending on the industry you’re operating in, it’s likely that your business has its fair share of compliance requirements to deal with. One of the major things that a lot of people don’t understand (until it’s far too late) is that if your technology isn’t compliant with regulations like ISO 9001 or ISO 13485, your business isn’t either.
Thankfully, this is one of the chief benefits that a document management system like M-Files brings to the table: they allow you to demonstrate regulatory compliance in an effective way, all while improving visibility into and control over your own information at the exact same time.
M-Files allows you to finally understand how data and business processes flow across your enterprise, allowing you to finally conduct a risk-based approach to quality processes. Plus, approval history and audit trails mean that documents are always highly traceable in a way that meets your security expectations, too.
Superior Document Security
Speaking of document security, a document management system excels to that end by offering a single repository to offer better protection to the critical information you’re creating on a daily basis. When your essential business information is stored across personal and enterprise cloud drives, local storage, network shares and in other spread-out locations, it’s difficult to simply know what is where let alone to protect it all.
By bringing everything together into a single source of information and knowledge, however, you make that information immediately less accessible to hackers and other malicious types of third parties.
Robust Search Facilities
Another issue with having your data so spread out ultimately involves how difficult it can be to find what you’re looking for. This is especially problematic given the sheer volume of documents that make their way through a business every day. If it takes your employees on average ten minutes to find the document that they’re looking for just so that they can START their work, that’s ten minutes that they weren’t doing anything meaningful to drive revenue for your organization. Multiply that opportunity cost by the total number of employees you have and the total number of documents they may need each day and you can begin to get an idea of just how severe this problem can be.
With a proper document management system, however, all of this goes away. It doesn’t matter WHERE something is stored at that point because so long as your employees know WHAT they’re looking for they’ll be able to find it. Likewise, with version control and similar features, you can always make sure that your people are retrieving the correct version of a document at all times.
Enhanced Collaboration Anytime, Anywhere
Finally, we arrive at the ways in which a document management system doesn’t just support internal collaboration but enhances it. The important work that your employees are doing for your clients isn’t created in a vacuum. Oftentimes successful projects are the result of the hard work of countless people, all working in tandem with one another to contribute something more effective than they could as individuals.
But when information is still trapped in data silos, it’s nearly impossible for this to happen because those documents aren’t getting into the hands of the people who need them. Without proper version control, collaboration becomes a disjointed and frustrating process. Three different people may need to review a document before it can be passed onto a client, but how can you be certain that they’re reviewing the same version of that document? If a change is made that eventually comes into question, how do you know who made it? How can you get all key stakeholders on the same page, let alone always moving in the same direction?
A high-quality document management system like M-Files eliminates these issues by providing a single source of information that all parties can access securely anywhere at any time. It doesn’t matter if your workforce will be operating out of home offices for the foreseeable future — they can all access the same versions of documents at the same time and contribute to the job that needs to be done.
This doesn’t just eliminate wasted resources — it promotes far better productivity and delivers more value to your customers as well.
If information is the foundation of your business, it’s safe to say that you need to make the effective management of that information one of your ongoing top priorities. That, in essence, is what a document management system is designed to do: it creates an opportunity to stop worrying about things like compliance, security, lost productivity and poor collaboration, all so that you can focus the maximum amount of your attention on running the most successful business that you can.