5 Huge Reasons Why Business Consulting Companies Love Information Management Technology

If you’re a student of sales and/or marketing, then you know that you must provide value to your customers. And you must do it in terms of how your customers think about value and not how your company thinks about value. What you think are the greatest features and best use cases are nearly irrelevant. So, when we think about our bread and butter sectors here at M-Files, where our document management solution has significant impact, professional services and specifically, business consulting rises to the top. We sought to answer the question: Why do business consulting companies love information management technology?

And so, to frame the answer in terms of value, it’s important to consider value from the business consultancy’s point of view and not ours. A cool prompt for that angle comes from Bob Apollo at Inflexion Point. He presented at an M-Files Sales Kickoff and I always remember the slide he put up on the screen about how customers think about value.

Solutions like information management technology must answer a few of the following questions for buyers:

  1. How will this help me to increase revenues?
  2. How will this help me to reduce expenditure?
  3. How will this help me to avoid risks?
  4. How will this help me save time?
  5. How will this help me achieve my goals?

For business consulting companies we’ve worked with — like advisory firm Horne — the answers are not difficult to ascertain.

How will information management technology help me to increase revenues?

Buyers want a collaborative relationship where information is readily available about their engagement. M-Files turns client engagements for business consulting firms into streamlined experiences.

How will information management technology help me to reduce expenditure?

M-Files reduces expenditure at just about every juncture — respond to audits 5x faster, secure cloud storage versus expensive on-premises storage, and reduction in resources needed for information governance, just to name a few.

How will information management technology help me save time?

According to research, 46% of workers say it’s challenging and time-consuming to find needed information. M-Files drastically reduces the time spent searching for documents by providing a 360-degree view of needed information across disparate repositories.

How will information management technology help me to avoid risks?

Consulting companies have data littered in multiple, disconnected systems — ERP, CRM, laptops, network folders. A multi-repository information ecosystem increases risk, as it compounds the challenge of ensuring that information doesn’t leak out or fall into the wrong hands. Information management technology solves this problem.

How will information management technology help me achieve my goals?

Information management helps business consulting companies reach their goals by allowing them to do more with less by reallocating resources to high-value work, like serving customers or developing new products.

There is way more story to tell on just how information management technology impacts business consulting companies and addresses these five questions.

Source: https://www.m-files.com/blog/5-huge-reasons-why-business-consulting-companies-love-information-management-technology/

Addressing the Primary Challenge of Email Management: Information Sprawl

No single thing probably drove the early growth of the internet as much as email did. In that way, it’s considered a driver application for internet tech, like cryptocurrency sparked interest in developing blockchain tech. Email gave us an inexpensive (sometimes free) and instant way to communicate all over the world. In addition, email lent itself to automation, collaboration, and integration, which sparked development to incorporate those ideas into other kinds of software that worked better for specific tasks.

That was OK then. But we have graduated — or at least we should have. Today, using email for more than mere communication generates avoidable problems and inefficiencies, particularly in an era when you can rely on better tools that will help improve efficiency and overcome email’s challenges. In particular, businesses that rely on email too much to share files and collaborate will certainly struggle with the many hazards of information sprawl.

Understanding and Overcoming Today’s Challenges with Email

Look at just a few problems information sprawl causes when email becomes the de facto collaboration tool. Even more, understand how smart document management systems can eliminate these kinds of inefficiencies and errors.

Version Control

In a previous article on problems with using email attachments for collaboration, we brought up the specific example of a CEO who wanted input about next year’s business plan. She attached her draft to the email she sent to her five vice presidents. Each of them made some edits and forwarded their versions to their own department heads. As the day for the CEO to present the plan approached, she found her own inbox full of dozens of versions of the plan, all edited, corrected, and commented upon by different people.

In the end, that CEO found himself trying to consolidate all of these versions — a difficult and error-prone process. Even if some of the executives and directors did not make a single change, he still had to account for each of them to make sure they approved it. If not, he needed to write a follow-up email to nudge them.

Is this really the best we can do in an age with tons of easy solutions to the problem?

With an intelligent information management system, she could have simply shared the document link with each stakeholder, alerted them as their deadline for edits or approval approached, and each person would be contributing to a single authoritative document version. The CEO would then have had one version-controlled and consolidated document. Not only could he view all edits in one place, he could also easily see exactly who generated each change and exactly when they did it. This made it much simpler for the CEO to verify information, accept the right changes, and produce his final business plan.

Storage Issues

Today’s businesses don’t just keep information in text documents. Various media may consist of graphics, videos, and sound files. If everybody relies on emailing and downloading these as email attachments, it can bog down both the performance of the email system and the capacity of storage devices. Instead, smart document management can keep track of the single storage place for these files and various versions and simply send everybody a hyperlink to access it.

Security and Compliance Problems

Even with small documents, having multiple copies stored on various cloud accounts, employee’s laptops, and of course, as email attachments generates more security vulnerabilities. Just as bad, storing private or sensitive information may create compliance breaches. With a good document management system, the owners can set rules for files that only allow the right people various types of access. Not only does this keep information secure, it also allows the company to demonstrate their compliance with regulations governing the kind of information they have.

Ownership Issues

Let’s say the CFO just had the latest version of the company’s financial report stored on his hard drive the day before he caught the flu, needed medication, and was in no shape to remember to tell other executives that he had updated the last attachment he had received from the accounting department. Even worse, let’s say that CFO suddenly left the company and had his server account deleted, along with the latest report.

Thinking she could simply bypass the CFO, the CEO asked the accounting department to email her the figures, with neither party knowing the CFO had the most current document on his own computer. Again, a central store of this information would show the most current version and a history of changes. A high-level user could also set and change ownership permissions with a few clicks, so the person who needed to take over for the CFO would take responsibility for this document.

Business Process Inefficiencies

Using the example of the business draft, the CEO wanted to ensure she gathered approvals from everybody who received her first version of the business plan. In turn, she needed to know when the draft had circulated to all stakeholders and then been returned back to her. With email, she would have the clunky process of sending out reminders and then having to check off names as replied hit her inbox. Instead, she could have set alerts within her document management system both to let the stakeholders knew she had a task for them and in turn, to let her know when they finished it.

How Enterprise-Quality Document Management Eliminates Information Sprawl

Nobody doubts the importance of email. It helped grow the internet and revolutionized communication. Still, as noted on HubSpot, many businesses still relies on email for more than its core function  — simply out of habit. It’s not that surprising that even top executives still rely on the tool they’ve probably used their entire career. At the same time, once they’ve been introduced to the benefits of smart information management, these same business leaders are pleasantly surprised to find a comprehensive tool to collaborate, track versions, manage audits, automate business processes, and avoid errors.

See how intelligent information management can beat email collaboration with a 30-day free trial.

Source: https://www.m-files.com/blog/addressing-the-primary-challenge-of-email-management-information-sprawl/

How to Outmaneuver Shadow IT with Intelligent Information Management

Shadow IT is when employees use unapproved software, apps, and devices to do their jobs. Typically, employees have good intentions and may turn to various ad-hoc services to get their work done because they don’t believe their employer provides them with a good solution. Since the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak, surveys of IT professionals have revealed that the rise in employees working from home has generated a surge in this practice. Find out why even the best-intentioned uses of shadow IT can pose a security threat to your valuable information and how you can control it.

Why is Shadow IT a Security Problem?

According to reports from MS Office, almost three-quarters of executives admit they don’t know how many shadow IT applications or devices their employees use. This isn’t surprising. According to Microsoft, even security professionals gravely underestimate the problem. On average, they believe all workers in their organization use 30 to 40 unapproved tech solutions when a better figure would probably be closer to 1,000.

These facts also aren’t surprising when you see studies that reveal that about 87% of senior managers have uploaded sensitive documents to a personal email or cloud account. If even senior leadership succumbs to these temptations, you can bet your business has a widespread problem.

While mostly well-intentioned, using all of these unapproved and unknown apps can generate dozens of serious problems for data security and data integrity. Some critical issues include:

Lack of visibility: IT can’t manage resources that they aren’t even aware of. Companies need tools to monitor their networks and any new devices or applications that interface with it.

Impossible to enforce compliance rules: If a business doesn’t even know a resource exists, there’s no way to make sure it complies with government regulations or internal governance. Especially with sensitive data, organizations need to ensure employees get permission before using third-party solutions.

High risk of lost data: Again, there’s no way to know if somebody uploaded the latest and most correct version of a document to their personal email or cloud service and then got sick or abruptly left the company or simply had a problem with their unapproved device or software’s storage. Businesses need a way to track information additions, deletions, and changes, and they also need to ensure these changes get backed up.

Impaired efficiency: If one team has decided to share documents on a cloud server but another team’s passing email attachments around, departments will fall out of alignment. If multiple departments need solutions for such issues as collaboration and document sharing, the company should implement one approved solution.

Vulnerability to digital threats: Obviously, this is the 900-pound gorilla in the room. You have probably read plenty of stories about attacks on popular software like Zoom and Google Drive. These days, companies are particularly vulnerable to phishing attempts made on an unsuspecting user’s email. Solutions that can reduce the risk could include enterprise-security software, audit trails, and two-factor authentication.

Again, most employees turn to outside solutions out of the best of intentions. A good first step probably includes surveying your workers to find out what features they lack in the toolkit your business already provides for them. Then, you can keep people productive and your business safe by evaluating various solutions to fill in these gaps.

At the same time, you’ll also help improve company-wide efficiency and alignment and make security’s job easier by keeping your entire company in alignment. You won’t have to worry that a director has uploaded a sensitive document to his email and one team leader uploaded the attached document to Google docs right before sharing the Edit link with his entire group. In the end, nobody can say which version was correct or even if any of them were.

Future-Proof Your Workforce and Business With M-Files

An enterprise-grade, AI-enabled information management solution like M-Files can almost automatically remove the temptation for employees to turn to ad-hoc solutions to do their jobs.

For example:

  • The software’s smart features can give employees everything they need to work, share, and collaborate. They won’t have the motivation to turn to private email, software, or storage accounts to get their jobs done — especially when they can access business critical information from anywhere and from any device.
  • The sophisticated, certified security will ensure that employees have only the access they need, and even better, M-Files will handle audit trails and version control. You won’t have to worry about lost, missing, or confusing data.
  • Using this one, standardized solution will also help keep teams, departments, and entire companies in alignment as they all rely upon the same system. This helps improve communication, business processes, and efficiency.
  • Employees will also appreciate the fact they can securely login to M-Files from anywhere and with various internet-connected devices. M-Files enables the remote workforce you employ today and in the future.

Schedule some time with us — we’re here to be a resource for you about your shadow IT concerns within your organization. We’ll explain how M-Files features can ensure your employees have a secure, workable solution. We can also arrange a free trial or demo, so you can actually watch M-Files in action as it improves your company’s security, efficiency, and alignment.

Source: https://www.m-files.com/blog/how-to-outmaneuver-shadow-it-with-intelligent-information-management/

Building Resilience: Adapting to Remote Work, Improving Health & Safety, and More with Your CMMS

Due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, it is no longer business-as-usual, and most businesses are having to adapt and learn new ways of operating. For some, this means implementing advanced infection control measures in an effort to maintain status-quo production levels. Others are ramping up production or rapidly retooling to meet increased demand. While others still are turning down production or completely shutting down.

No matter what situation you find yourself in, there are ways your CMMS can help support these new ways of working.

Virtual communication is more important than ever before

We’ve all previously operated under the assumption that nothing beats face-to-face communication. However, during this time of social distancing and high rates of absenteeism, in-person communication is no longer feasible for many situations. Therefore, we all have to embrace virtual communication methods and determine which are the most effective for us.

Your CMMS allows critical information to be communicated with:

  • Maintenance coordinators and managers working remotely
  • Contractors and vendors who can no longer access your site
  • Workers from different departments or on staggered shift changes

CMMS features — like adding asset images, identifying equipment with QR or barcodes, adding files and media to work orders, reporting and shared dashboards — can all enhance your ability to virtually communicate important information.

Communicating new or evolving information quickly

Our collective knowledge of the coronavirus is evolving daily, as are the recommended precautions and impacts to our businesses. Therefore, it is important that business leaders have a way of quickly communicating these changes to workers to maintain their safety.

In Fiix, the task groups feature lets you quickly communicate changes to:

  • Highlight updated PPE required for tasks per advanced infection control measures along with instructions on wearing, inspecting, cleaning, and storage.
  • Make changes to sanitation procedures or frequency.
  • Increase ventilation rates and frequency of air filter changes.
  • Ensure detailed procedures and manuals are accessible on each work order in the event of the need to cross-train workers.
  • Install new engineered controls such as physical barriers.

In addition, using the available notifications options, you can configure how active and inactive users are automatically notified of changes and new work orders.

Discouraging the use of shared tools

A good workaround here is getting your team to use their mobile CMMS app on their own personal device, instead of relying on shared terminals. The Fiix app even facilitates access to your CMMS when the internet connection is unstable or unavailable.

Determining what is essential

By searching and tagging open work orders with the highest priority, you can quickly obtain a hit-list of the essential maintenance items for your facility. This critical information can be shared with business leaders to inform staffing adjustments and highlight any anticipated supply chain issues. This sort of itemized and prioritized communication with management demonstrates the critical role maintenance teams play in overall business continuity planning. In Fiix, you can build scheduled reports to automatically send an updated essential work order list to the appropriate people at whatever interval you want.

Taking the time now, to be faster later

Even if you’re working in a facility where production is currently slowing or shutting down, this may be a good opportunity to take time to sharpen the saw, as the old saying goes, to come back with the ability to cut down the tree much faster.

Reviewing backlogged maintenance tasks, brushing up on your own professional development, or implementing those additional CMMS modules you’ve been meaning to get to are all great ways to set yourself up for success down the road. Beyond the features we mentioned above, here is a great checklist to ensure you’re ready for when your plant starts operating again.

Lean on your Fiix community

We know that these are challenging times for many of our customers, partners, and community in production environments, and that adapting to uncertainty can be complicated. That being said, there is tremendous maintenance expertise within our growing Fiix community, so do not hesitate to reach out to explain other situations you are struggling with. We’re here to help you through.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/building-resilience-with-your-cmms/

Facts and Figures: Which Nations Were (and Weren’t) Prepared for a Remote Workforce?

The world has been forced into remote work. Each country has instituted its own brand of lockdown in an attempt to flatten the curve and a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article presented data on which nations were and weren’t prepared to deploy a remote workforce.

Researchers scored the social distance and remote operability of 42 countries across the globe. Scoring was based on three factors:

  • Robustness of key platforms — technology-mediated remote work, e-commerce, digital media and the country’s digital foundations — key to business continuity
  • Proliferation and resilience of digital payments options to facilitate transactions
  • Resilience of the internet infrastructure to traffic surges

Check out the results below. Note that higher scores represent better performance along each index.

(Source: Harvard Business Review)

Digital transformation has been the centERPiece of discussions in tech circles for years. But the coronavirus crisis really transformed “digital transformation” from just an overused buzzword. It became a real-life application of remote work tools. In 2018, 70% of companies had a digital transformation strategy in place or were working on one, and this unprecedented situation exposed just how far along companies — and in this case, countries — are in their digital transformation journey.

The author of the HBR article pointed out several key takeaways from the data:

“There is a divide between the resilient and the fragile: Advanced economies, at the top of the graph have more robust digital platforms, making them better prepared for the pivot to online work than developing economies in the bottom.”

“The United States is ready, but not ready enough: Despite some concerns, the United States is well poised for business continuity, with robust digital platforms and digital payment infrastructure. But with businesses asking employees to work from home, surges in digital traffic have stressed the internet infrastructure.”

“Much of Europe, with some exceptions, suffers from middling robustness of the platforms and vulnerable internet infrastructure. Speeds in much of Europe are much lower than in the U.S. overall, and the infrastructure is older.”

“Some Asian countries have proven to be innovative — and forced reconsideration of long-held assumptions: Being proximate to the origins of the outbreak, some have taken a markedly different approach to using digital technology. South Korea presents an interesting benchmark. Its internet resilience is among the best in the world, as is its use of digital payments, and its platforms are robust.”

How did your homeland fare?

Again, it’s interesting to see the data plotted, as it presents a yardstick by which digital transformation and readiness can be visualized. We contend that the cornerstone of digital transformation and remote work for every organization is information management. Intelligent information management platforms like M-Files allow users to access and manage business-critical information…

No matter where that information is stored — CRM, ERP, network folders, share drives, Salesforce

And no matter where on Earth the user is — home, office, hotel, airport, coffee shop

That seamless experience of working with content from any location with an internet connection is powerful. And with information management platforms, remote work and accessing information doesn’t mean companies have to sacrifice compliance or security.

Source: – https://www.m-files.com/blog/facts-and-figures-which-nations-were-and-werent-prepared-for-a-remote-workforce/

We Need Consultants Now More than Ever: How the “New Normal” Offers Consulting Firms New Opportunities to Win and Retain Business

The pandemic has unsettled the world, leaving us all to navigate the uncertainty. I don’t need to elaborate. We all know and feel the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our economy, workplaces, and personal well-being.

However, at the time of writing this, restrictions around the world are starting to lift, little by little. And as the initial hurdle comes to a close, we are gradually shifting our attention from the panic of What now? and instead, shifting our focus to What’s next?

As a Product Marketing Manager for M-Files, I am in the game of figuring out what moves and shakes people to change, or more specifically what drives companies to invest in new technology. This pandemic has certainly offered a new driver to the mix.

COVID-19 has Forced Companies to Transform (and Transform Quickly)

Before this crisis, some common drivers across many industries included items like increasing efficiency in a competitive landscape, winning and retaining new business, and minimizing risk.

These drivers are still relevant. The pandemic, however, has presented a new driver — resilience. Namely, how can companies ensure and maintain operations in times of crisis? How can companies continue with business as usual in times when business is not usual?

While the initial hurdle of this pandemic seems to be coming to an end, there is no guarantee that the pandemic will not grow worse or that further restrictions will be enforced in the future (some news media portends the possibility of a second wave of cases globally). And as experts warned us of a possible pandemic before COVID-19, they are also insisting that we realize that other pandemics are just as possible in the future. We simply do not know. We used to operate with a false sense of certainty about the future, but this crisis has exposed just how uncertain things really are. Despite this, we are certain that the COVID-19 crisis has taught us that businesses need to transform. We can feel confident about that lesson. And when there’s need for great transformation, there’s need for great guidance.

Bring in the Consultants!

The reason I boldly claim that we need consultants now more than ever is because we’re in uncharted territory. Emotions are strong and it’s difficult, for both employees and business leaders, to wrap their minds over what to do next. Consultants, by and large, are transformation experts. We call on consultants to get us from one state to the next, because they have the expertise, experience, resources and know-how to pave a path to our objectives.

When it comes to the topic of resilience, businesses are plagued with questions around policy, leadership, technology, security, and change management while also grappling with the struggles of maintaining business today. This presents an interesting opportunity for people in the thinking industry.

The Driver: What’s driving or forcing companies to change?

The COVID-19 crisis has tested the resilience of the business world.

The Objective: What do companies need to do in response to this driver?

Companies have been forced to establish and maintain organizational resilience — to handle future crises.

Business Changes: What transformations must take place for companies to meet these objectives?

To establish and maintain organizational resilience, companies must:

  • Institute a flexible and secure work environment
  • Reduce costs to buffer current and potential decreases in revenue
  • Enable a remote, yet effective workforce that can work either from the office or at home
  • Establish policies and procedures for times of crisis and train staff on policies
  • Train leadership on managing and leading in times of crisis
  • Uphold excellent customer experiences in times of crisis

Business Value: What is the potential business value of these transformations?

When companies are resilient to crises, they:

  • Retain more business
  • Maintain business continuity in times when business is not usual
  • Have better buffers for sudden revenue decreases
  • Mitigate risks to security and quality — in areas like information security, safety, and compliance
  • Increase workforce satisfaction and trust

So, if you’re in the service of helping businesses transform, take a moment to consider if this new driver offers your firm new opportunities. And in doing so, consider the following:

  • What sort of products or services can you provide to help potential or existing clients manage this crisis?
  • What sort of training do you need to better help your clients manage crises and build resilience?
  • What sort of content can you develop to help your clients manage our current global predicament?

In times of global uncertainty, we need people in our corner to help us put one foot in front of the other. That’s why we need consultants now more than ever.

Source: https://www.m-files.com/blog/we-need-consultants-now-more-than-ever-how-the-new-normal-offers-consulting-firms-new-opportunities-to-win-and-retain-business/