By 2023, over half of the medium to large enterprises will have adopted low code as one of their strategic application platforms – Gartner
By 2024, more than 65% of application development will be done on low code platforms and 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low code development tools – Gartner
A market study by Forrester expects the market for low code development platforms to increase to $21.2 billion by 2022, up from $3.8 billion in 2017 – Forrester
What stands out in the above data points is that low code is an opportunity you simply cannot miss!
As a business leader, you deal with evolving customer expectations and changing market needs. This requires you to be faster than your competition and respond to dynamic business requirements with speed and agility. So, the time to embrace low code is now!
And if you are still deliberating, here are the five key business values you can unlock by investing in low code:
Achieve Faster Go-to-market: Low code helps slash enterprise application development time significantly. Reusable application components and web-based drag-and-drop features of low code speed up the application designing process. This ensures that you bring your application faster to market and incorporate changes at the shortest notice!
Make Your IT More Efficient: Don’t make janitors out of your IT workforce! Most IT teams today spend a significant amount of time in maintaining IT hygiene—continuous upgrades, compliance checks, security certifications, and performance measurements—thereby hampering productivity. Technical debt accrued by organizations is a major factor that increases the technical burden. Low code platforms can significantly reduce these IT overheads and enable your developers to rapidly build applications that can bring in higher business value
Lower IT Costs: The traditional way of developing enterprise applications is on its way to becoming obsolete. Low code not only enables organizations to keep up with the fast, digital times but also offers significant cost reduction in the long run. With low code, you get faster innovation in lesser time and without adding to your IT headcount
Delight Customers: Today’s digital native customers’ expectations keep changing rapidly and they want organizations to respond quickly to their changing needs. This is where low code comes as a savior by enabling faster responses and easier change management per market and customer needs
Improve IT Governance: Shadow IT continues to be a pain point for enterprises. It not only accrues technical debt in the organization but also affects overall risk monitoring. Low code deftly handles shadow IT by reducing dependency on quick-fix third-party applications and enabling a collaboration-driven work environment. The standard modeling environment of low code boosts IT governance by doing away with data, process, and security vulnerabilities
In a nutshell, low code provides a lot more than just speed and agility
Anyone who has ever spent an appreciable amount of time working with business information knows full well that the sheer volume of content within their deployment is growing by the day. But at the same time, the variety of content is also on the rise — which can easily lead to governance issues before you know it.
This was always an issue for organizations in the process of scaling, but it has become increasingly difficult in the wake of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With more employees working from home than ever, information management solutions have become more than just tools to store important files in the cloud. They are literally the foundation of your workforce right now, allowing people to better communicate and collaborate with one another during a time when they’re not going to be able to get back in the same shared space for the foreseeable future.
This, in essence, is why ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance is so important. Every minute that you spend trying to make sense of your infrastructure or trying to get third-party add-ons to work the way you want, is a minute that you’re not actually acting on the insight contained in your data and using it to propel your business forward. Thankfully, most IT leaders seem to understand the gravity of the situation.
The Power of ‘Set It and Forget It’ Governance: An Overview
M-Files intelligent information management solution helps achieve a ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance strategy. With workflow rules, organizations can maintain consistent records management policies. Documents in a governance workflow would be governed by a ruleset whereby any of the following would happen automatically:
Records would be disposed of or retained according to policy
Stakeholders would be notified to review batches of documents designated for a certain disposition
Files can automatically be added to this workflow, as well, through metadata. If, for instance, a file matches certain criteria — say, a type of contract — it would automatically be applied to a governance workflow.
Thanks to a lot of these features, information in all repositories across the organization are standardized with common ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance standards. Really, what this means is that there is now no longer a need to transfer important information like records or compliance documents to a totally separate repository. This approach to governance only ever worked with records that you didn’t need to use that often and created quite a significant challenge in terms of management for everything else. Active records obviously need to be available with their critical context intact — meaning in a way that allows you to retrieve all relevant documents and see all crucial tasks also quickly. Now, these types of records can be actively managed within the M-Files platform — which is really the most important advantage of all.
In the end, ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance is all about breaking down yet another data silo so that information can move freely across your organization for the first time. Rather than forcing your employees to use a number of different tools just to get work done — thus increasing the time it takes them to complete those important tasks to begin with — they should have access to absolutely everything they need, all under one roof.
But you also shouldn’t have to work very hard to get to this point — which is really what ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance is all about. It’s about making it easier to get the highest return from your IT spending and from your technological investment, not harder. You’ll still need to make sure that the business strategies that are driving your technology investments are carefully thought out, of course. You should never invest in a solution because you think you need to — it should be the right move to make given whatever you’re trying to accomplish at the moment.
Thankfully, “simple” has emerged as a recurring theme when it comes to businesses who are embracing cloud platforms and process standardization — and it absolutely could not have come at a better moment.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenge for us all — but few know this better than the dedicated HR employees who now have to figure out how to effectively do their jobs while working remotely.
Thankfully, M-Files has proven itself to be more than invaluable to that end, offering a wide array of different benefits to human resources officials both during and after the pandemic has finally left us behind.
Offering Superior Remote Access
Obviously, everyone needs “anytime, anywhere” access to key information while working from home and M-Files make this easier than ever before. Everything is all in one place, making sure that the HR employees who need a document always have it, no matter what. Not only is everything inherently searchable based on what is INSIDE the document (not just what it’s called), but this is also a way to keep information safe and secure as well.
Automation, Automation, Automation
Everyone knows that collecting “wet signatures” when updating HR policies and procedures is time-consuming on the best of days… to say nothing of how problematic this has become during the new era when everyone is working remotely.
Thankfully, M-Files can make this process easier by allowing you to send out a copy of new policies to all staff members, have them acknowledge it via a web browser, then instantly file it away in the appropriate folder — all via automated workflows that don’t require HR employees to send out so much as a single email.
Support for a New Era of Leave Management
Thanks to the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on us all, many companies are (understandably) seeing an increase in leave requests. With M-Files, it’s now possible to create customized workflows that can be started by a manage to make sure that everyone who needs to be informed of such a request — like those in payroll, those dealing with benefits, and others) are an organic part of the process in a way that also makes it easy to track actions as they’re being taken.
Even though people aren’t physically in the same place at the same time any longer, the need for collaboration is still paramount. Still, sending documents via email can not only create a confusing process that is prone to errors, but it can also cause even the most straightforward tasks to take up far too much time as well.
With M-Files, on the other hand, employees can now effortlessly share information with one another from the devices they’re already comfortable using. Custom workflows can even be created to make sure that documents are always correctly routed from one person to the next as needed, thus empowering collaboration at a time when it is desperately needed.
Employee Lifecycle Paperwork
In the COVID-19 era, remote employee onboarding is a pressing need for many organizations. Thankfully, M-Files enables this by allowing employees to complete all of their onboarding forms at home through a simple and easy-to-use web-based interface.
Once finished, those forms can then automatically be routed to the right HR professionals who can then file them away as needed. This same process can be leveraged whenever an employee exits the business, too — automating notices for everyone involved in this level of exit paperwork.
Better Employee Management Documentation
Even though more people are working from home than ever, there are still certain needs that must be met. HR officials still need to manage and document employee performance, for example, along with all relevant certifications, licenses, and training materials.
Thankfully, M-Files enables this by making sure that all insight ends up exactly where it needs to be: in that employee’s file. This breaks down yet another potential data silo for information to get lost in, fueling better and more informed decisions moving forward.
It’s All About That Return on Investment
Finally, perhaps the most important way in which M-Files supports your human resources efforts in the new era of working remotely comes down to how it can help you recoup as much money as possible from your initial investment.
Keep in mind that moving from the paper-based world into the digital realm can not only bring with it significant cost savings in terms of square footage for your business but also with regards to time saved as well.
You’ll spend so much less time and money because you’re no longer wading through reams of paper — allowing you to funnel more of those funds back into the business in areas where they can do the most good. Plus, you’ll have more time in a day to focus on those matters that truly need you, which may very well be the most important benefit of all.
This article was written by Katie Allen, Fiix’s Sustainability and Social Impact Manager.
Waste. Garbage. Rubbish. Litter. Trash. Excess. These concepts are relatively new in our modern world. Waste was often synonymous with barren land and had nothing to do with the disposal.
Garbage — the act of throwing something away — was introduced in the early 1900s. Now, it’s a regular part of life— we buy, we use, and then we throw away. This is so common that we have entire waste management systems with teams of people and machinery dedicated to our garbage.
This used to be my job. I would advise the public on where to put items when they were ready to throw them out. I would pick through big, black garbage bags on grueling hot days, dissecting, weighing, and sorting what people threw out. I helped divert hazardous and electronic waste from entering the landfill. I even managed a vermicomposter.
But in all my years doing this work, I never once offered a way for people to fix their stuff so it didn’t need to be tossed out in the first place.
We focused so heavily on reduce, reuse, and recycle that we forgot the most important ‘R’: Repair — the act of looking after your stuff.
We were not the only ones to miss this. It’s not common to receive a maintenance or repair manual when purchasing a product. You often need to search the web to find a community post or a video on how to fix something.
Maintenance and repair is regarded as a mundane practice in our society instead of being recognized as a sustainable approach to product consumption and creation. While we focus on the next, new, shiny thing, we forget the infrastructure, products, and equipment we already have.
The 12th UN Sustainable Development Goal focuses most heavily on addressing this deficit with the circular economy. The goal states that, “Responsible consumption and production” will help us decrease our reliance on natural resources, increase sustainability reporting, reduce waste in all forms, and ultimately encourage lifestyles that are synonymous with nature.
While this is a highly ambitious and admirable goal, they are missing a critical component: Maintenance and repair. Maintenance is the primary method for life cycle management. While it is important to rethink the way we design products (and the machines that make them) and how we recycle them, we need to think about the way we actually use the product. This is key to understanding the circular economy and how we can use it to bolster our efforts for sustainability.
What is the circular economy?
The Ellen Macarthur Foundation is leading research on the circular economy and defines it as a system “based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.”
We currently function in a linear economic system based on a take-make-waste model. Many of the resources we extract are used and eventually wasted.
This system is problematic for many reasons. Its inefficiency is wreaking havoc on our natural world with mass amounts of waste and pollution, which also negatively impacts our most vulnerable societies. This system is depicted in the graphic below. It maps all our global resources from extraction to end-of-use. Minerals, ores, fossil fuels, and biomass make up everything from our homes to our food.
As Robert Kunzig points out, “Two-thirds of the material flowing through the economy, 67.4 billion tons in 2015, gets emitted as pollution or otherwise scattered or disposed of as waste.”
While these resources are essential components of our economy, we are witnessing colossal inefficiencies throughout the process resulting in what’s called externalities.
An externality is a cost or benefit of an economic activity experienced by an unrelated third party.
Waste, represented by the grey “end of use” bubbles at the bottom of the graphic, is the most obvious negative externality. Other negative externalities include air pollution, emissions, and the wealth gap.
The circular economy is all about accounting for these externalities. We can phase out waste and pollution from the beginning with responsible design. Through maintenance best practices, we can increase the lifespan of assets, keep material in use, and create greater value socially, environmentally, and economically. And through the regeneration of our natural systems, we can create a thriving, circular economy that works within planetary boundaries.
What is maintenance?
Maintenance is the best way to keep materials in use.
Maintenance is any activity—such as tests, measurements, replacements, adjustments, and repairs—intended to retain or restore a functional unit in or to a specified state in which the unit can perform its required functions.1
You can find examples of maintenance in all aspects of your life, from brushing your teeth to changing the oil in your car or washing your dishes. These are all forms of maintenance that keep us and our belongings functioning as intended.
In industrial settings, maintenance is performed through a variety of strategies that best suit the asset in question. Typically, these strategies are applied to some of the biggest machinery and equipment in the world. Some examples include managing air flow and air quality in electrical and HVAC units, replacing filters, cleaning bearings, pumping tires, and fixing conveyor belts, reactors, and pumps. This takes place in factories, food processing, and energy production facilities, data centers, and manufacturing plants.
Maintenance and repair strategies keep many of these operations running efficiently, supporting very large, positive outcomes across the triple bottom line of sustainability: People, Planet, and profit.
Benefits of maintenance
Click image to enlarge:
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation showcases the different elements of the circular economy in the map above, The smaller circles represent the most efficient solutions in terms of cost, materials, and resources.
Here, maintenance makes up the smallest circle, and thus the most efficient and accessible solution. This is because, at its core, maintenance is about keeping the same equipment, materials, and assets in use. With rising costs of raw materials and end-of-life treatment, maintenance becomes a very attractive solution to kick-start the circular economy and build momentum in a more sustainable direction.
In Sobral and Ferreira’s 2018 article, they argue that the fundamental principles of maintenance — continuous improvement, improving performance, and increasing lifespan — are the foundation of Lean Thinking. The main objective of Lean Thinking is to improve society while eliminating waste. Maintenance and efficiency go hand-in-hand, creating positive outcomes beyond just eliminating waste. An effective maintenance strategy can result in improvements across the triple bottom line, as highlighted in the graphic below:
Socially, better maintenance practices can improve health and safety, the quality of workplaces, and the local community. In various studies, it has been reported that better maintenance is associated with lower injury frequency, and when done poorly, maintenance accounts for 10% of workplace incidents.
Environmentally, maintenance can improve air quality, reduce emissions, and reduce waste. It can also prolong asset lifespans, reduce energy consumption, and reduce water consumption. A preventive maintenance program can result in 20% savings in raw material usage. In the residential sector, regular maintenance can save up to 35% of energy costs. In vehicles, researchers found a 30% reduction in emissions following maintenance.
Economically, maintenance reduces costs, improves utilization, and aids with compliance. These are the most common indicators of success. In some instances, predictive maintenance can save up to 12% of costs and decrease downtime by up to 45%.
Measuring all the ways in which maintenance has an impact is critical to the success of any organization. Highlighting these efficiencies and giving maintenance the credit it deserves will help advance the circular economy.
Barriers to success
As it stands today, maintenance isn’t prioritized or recognized. The Maintainers, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., have long sung the praises of maintenance and repair. They examine our obsession with innovation and our disregard for the mundane.
Maintenance and repair, the building of infrastructures, the mundane labour that goes into sustaining functioning and efficient infrastructures, simply has more impact on people’s daily lives than the vast majority of technological innovations.
– Andrew Russell & Lee Vinsel
We are so focused on new things, whether physical or conceptual, that we fail to recognize the critical, overlooked, and the underpaid role that maintenance plays in our society. Failing to meet our maintenance needs can have catastrophic consequences. The ongoing cost of maintenance and repair is often undervalued when building infrastructure. That’s when things break, crack, and deteriorate.
In 2019, America’s infrastructure was given a report with a final grade of D+. A team of 28 civil engineers from across the country analyzed everything from energy infrastructure to railways and schools. They found that nearly everything was deteriorating to a point of concern, with most infrastructure approaching the end of its service life.
The impact of this is frightening, costing the US millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in GDP, while externalities are going unmeasured, costing us in pollution and health and safety.
COVID-19 showed us that it’s up to us to keep the world running, and when we stop, we notice. Technical maintenance is often seen as a cost centre rather than an opportunity to save money, time, energy, and waste. The current narrative surrounding maintenance is not exciting, nor is it measured properly, so we don’t understand its full value and potential.
Maintenance and repair need a rebrand and a re-education campaign. It must be considered as a key source of efficiency in the circular economy and we should be placing resources in these areas to understand how to improve practices.
Technology is helping with this rebrand. Tools, like a CMMS, help organizations track, schedule, and organize maintenance activities. Tracking data is critical. Analyzing that data using artificial intelligence can enable companies to find trends and areas for improvement. Utilizing technology can help bring light into what was once a black hole of information.
Driving the circular economy forward with better maintenance
There are three factors at play that will help us advance the circular economy through better maintenance.
First, the maintenance, reliability, and asset management space needs to recognize and prioritize the best sustainability practices from this line of work and measure it. Technology will be critical in capturing this information.
Second, circular economy research and advocacy must incorporate maintenance and repair as critical steps in advancing sustainability.
Lastly, organizations must adopt technology that enables these best practices. Without adequate data collection, measurement, or management, many of these benefits are lost and aren’t accounted for.
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel as we reach for sustainability. We just need to look after what we already have.
2020 was a year of unprecedented challenge for the whole world — when what we thought of as normal did not exist anymore. Everyone had to adjust to new ways of working and a business community that was suddenly closing its doors after a long period of increasing global movement.
In M-Files, we face the same challenge of suddenly moving to home offices across the globe. For us, it was quite straightforward though, as M-Files is designed to enable remote work from anywhere.
Now, let’s take a look at the upcoming new year 2021. The world will certainly not get back to what used to be normal. It is time for the new normal!
2021 for M-Files means continuing on the path we partly took already in 2020 — but with increased focus. The four major themes for us are:
1 | AI Continues to be an Integral Part of M-Files
AI is already a core element of M-Files, essentially making M-Files what it is. Going forward, AI will go even further in enriching search and navigation, driving employee productivity with intelligence that helps the user focus on the job at hand.
2 | Focus on the User Experience
In today’s world, end-users expect to have tools that are intuitive and easy to use. They use different types of apps in their personal lives and expect at least a somewhat corresponding experience in the products they use for business. M-Files is answering this demand with an increased focus on improving the end-user experience, be it the search experience, the usability of the product in general, or the intuitiveness of the workflows that support the business.
3 | Improved Self-Service Capabilities
True scalability calls for the ability to view and analyze the performance of the system. Therefore, one of the areas we want to focus on in the future is improving self-service capabilities. The next step is to offer customers the ability to manage their own M-Files subscription with M-Files Manage.
4 | Making Content Collaboration a Key Focus
With remote work a key part of the new reality for an increasing number of businesses and knowledge workers, content collaboration is an obvious focus area. You’ll see some new stunning innovations in our product related to remote work enablement later on in 2021.
What to Expect Next?
As we open 2021, there’s some good news just around the corner! The user experience is a theme we want to focus on, and there are two current, significant updates that will certainly have a positive impact on the user experience.
A new, improved Web Client for M-Files became available in the December release and will be installed in customer environments as the year starts. Additionally, the December release introduced the new Smart Search, which will give faster, even more, accurate search results.
If you wish to learn more about any of the new improvements, please contact us for more information.