For professional services companies like consultants, accountants, legal professionals and others, success so often comes down to their ability to forge deeper and longer lasting relationships with their clients than their competitors. Anyone can provide a service — what firms really need to do to stand out in a crowd involves providing an exceptional experience in every sense of the word.

So much of their ability to do this comes down to the information that they’re creating and working with every day. As your firm continues to grow, there will absolutely come a time when you can no longer manage it all on your own — meaning that you’ll need an information management platform to help extract the insight you need from that data to make better and more informed decisions moving forward.

But at the same time, not all enterprise content management (ECM) solutions are created equally. If you really want to make sure that you’re investing in the right solution for your professional services firm, there are a few key features you’ll want to pay attention to.

Shatter Those Information Silos Once and For All

By far, one of the most important things to look for in an ECM involves a feature set that allows you to finally break down those information silos once and for all.

Information silos are more than just a minor inconvenience — they’re actually costing your business a significant amount of money in more ways than one. If information about a consumer is trapped in your marketing department and can never make its way across the enterprise to sales, for example, the latter is lacking the critical insight they need to create deeper and longer lasting relationships with your clients and customers. An ECM solution should absolutely help you break free from these restrictions — the last thing you need is to end up accidentally creating yet another data silo that requires a massive migration because you’ve chosen the wrong solution.

A system like M-Files is a perfect opportunity to connect to all of your existing business systems in a way that presents information to the people who need it the most regardless of where it lives. Better yet, these full integration capabilities can unlock the free flow of information across your business WITHOUT disturbing any of your existing systems, too.

Empowering Remote Access for Anyone, Anywhere at Any Time

Along the same lines, any ECM solution you choose to go with should also enable remote access as much as possible — people should be able to get information anywhere, at any time, from any device. This type of remote access has always been the future of work, but thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with more people working remotely than ever, it’s become an even more critical idea than it already was.

Not only does a solution like M-Files offer this remote access and connectivity by design, but it also does so in the most secure way possible. M-Files uses encryption and other data security standards to always make sure that your confidential information stays that way, but it also has the dynamic permissions and internal controls you need to configure the system to meet your goals. You can limit access to files by directory, by the type of content or even by the job description of someone trying to access that information. The choice is yours to make based on what you need.

This of course bleeds directly into another benefit your document management solution needs to bring to the table — features that empower collaboration among you and your team members. Only by enabling A) remote access and B) higher security standards as outlined above, will you be able to C) create a secure system where you can easily share information with both colleagues internally and externally with clients as needed. This is of paramount importance in terms of professional services businesses moving forward, and it’s also a goal that an information management system like M-Files is designed to help you achieve.

Optimizing Workflows Across the Board

Any ECM solution you choose to work with should also allow you to fully embrace automation — minimizing those manual repetitive tasks with workflows and business process automation, all so that you can focus more of your attention on those tasks that really need you.

M-Files can help to that end in terms of automating things like invoice processing, for example. M-Files can automatically handle ALL incoming invoices and cover all necessary steps of your accounts payable department — from data extraction to validation to release and beyond. Not only does this create a greater degree of process transparency than ever, but it also reduces costs and eliminates things like human error as well.

An Era of Paper Reduction Has Begun

Any ECM solution worth your time should also help with paper reduction — a step that will finally allow you to break free of the “old school” way of doing things so that you can create a more efficient and more forward-thinking place of business.

M-Files, for example, offers capture and digitization capabilities that allow firms like yours to eliminate costly and inefficient paper document practices. Not only can you free up valuable floor space in your office now that those massive filing cabinets of old documents are no longer needed, but the money you’ll save from a more efficient way of doing things can be funneled back into other areas of your business where it is truly needed and can do the most good.

Scalability to Spare

Finally, we arrive at the idea of scalability — a concept that far too many people tend not to think too much about until it’s too late.

Any ECM solution you pick needs to meet your needs today, yes. But it also needs to be just as useful five years from now as it is at the time of purchase. As your business grows, the volume of information you’re creating on a daily basis will grow, too. Therefore, your information management platform needs to grow right along with you — constantly allowing you to address current demands all while better preparing yourself to meet future challenges, too.

M-Files connects to all of your disconnected information systems — CRM, ERP, network folders, legacy systems, SharePoint, Google G Suite, email — so that your company has information continuity at scale, should your environment change.