Three Ways to Boost Your Microsoft 365 Investment

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is the undisputed leader in the digital productivity market, with more than 80 percent of the global share in productivity software. Familiar names like Excel, SharePoint, OneDrive, Word, and PowerPoint are hard-baked into the everyday foundations of most any office.

While M365 offers a wide array of powerful productivity tools that are easy to use, the very best benefits of the suite can also create problems down the road.

As Microsoft 365 tools continue to improve and become even easier to use, the challenge to effectively and efficiently manage the resulting output can paradoxically create new productivity challenges. The risks of document sprawl, siloed information, and compliance gaps only grow as it becomes easier for any knowledge worker to quickly create, duplicate, and share content.

Forward-thinking organizations can leverage the power of a metadata-driven document management platform to augment the power of M365, secure information processes, and ensure compliance without sacrificing the productivity benefits of the overall Microsoft 365 investment. Here’s how:

Taming information chaos

As organizations grow, information grows. As information grows, information sprawls. The result? Knowledge workers often struggle to find the right information in an ocean of data spread across disconnected data repositories, including SharePoint and OneDrive, as well as non-Microsoft systems.

An astounding 56 percent of surveyed organizations say their document management systems don’t connect with other systems in place.
While Microsoft provides powerful data storage and management tools, M365 doesn’t include an out-of-the-box plan or policy mapping how information is managed. Documents get duplicated, version control fails, and access management can’t adjust to the chaotic change. Knowledge workers waste time finding the right information, get frustrated, and “re-invent the wheel,” with their own storage schemes, leading to poor productivity.

To tame the information chaos, a top-of-class, metadata-driven document management platform can connect Microsoft and non-Microsoft systems to create a single source of truth over enterprise data. Such a platform can deploy search capabilities to help find information based on what it is rather than where it is, as well as enabling control over document access, versions, publishing, and distribution.

Embrace automation to fight data frustration

Nearly 8 in 10 workers surveyed report they’ve recreated documents which already existed because they were unable to find it on their corporate network. When information management strategy relies on manual processes and employee diligence, errors happen, costs rise, and everyone gets more stressed and frustrated.

Because Microsoft 365 lacks automated rules on how to name files or where to store them, content can easily “go dark,” slip through the cracks or wind up on a team members local or even personal device. When documents aren’t automatically connected to business data or processes, business processes must be tracked manually, wasting time and money.

An intelligent document management platform connects documents to business data to drive improved daily workflows and processes and guides users when creating new content or filing existing documents.

Details like file naming, permissions, or the next document reviewer can be automated, while workflows, views, tasks, and notifications help keep daily work organized.

Ensure compliance with access controls

Data compliance controls are no longer a “nice-to-have” across the business landscape—they are a “must-have.” Despite its many productivity strengths, Microsoft 365 does not include out-of-the-box compliance tools. For many organizations, this means access control —a key aspect of compliance management—can become cumbersome and difficult to keep up to date.

Following policies and procedures requires extra work and relies on employee diligence, and, as we’ve seen, such manual processes inevitably lead to errors. In the world of compliance, errors can not only cost lost hours and revenue, but can also result in huge fines.
Without a document management strategy in place, audit trails can break with access control issues and document duplication. The bottom line: Compliance doesn’t follow the speed of business and audits create unnecessary workloads.

By deploying a metadata-driven document management platform, organizations can reduce business risk and ensure compliance by automating access controls to follow the rhythm and rules of all internal and external rules. Industry, standard, and regulatory compliance controls are embedded into daily work as automated workflows seamlessly gather and retain compliance evidence. As a bonus, each content access and edit event creates an electronic audit trail.

Maximizing the Microsoft Advantage

As Microsoft 365 is undoubtedly poised to continue its reign as the GOAT office productivity tool, organizations need to constantly keep up with innovative ways to complement the strengths of M365. A metadata-driven document management platform, like M-Files, integrates into Microsoft 365 and acts as the single point of access for all enterprise data. Team members can find, access, and manage all connected data, regardless of its repository through Microsoft user interfaces.

With M-Files, Microsoft 365 users can:

• Add information governance over documents accessed from Teams
• Connect Outlook emails and attachments with clients and projects
• Organize information across multiple SharePoint sites and search with business relevant criteria.
• Access and use information from non-Microsoft repositories directly in Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Source: https://www.m-files.com/three-ways-to-boost-your-microsoft-365-investment/

The Secrets to Seamless Connection and Collaboration

Cloud, collaboration, and connectivity: How can seamless communication be delivered?“, M-Files CEO Antti Nivala took on some of the toughest issues facing businesses in our time of digital transformation.

For many, the new ways of working are freeing, but there are unanswered questions: How do businesses communicate seamlessly in a work-from-anywhere world? What does a good office environment look like in the cloud era? How can you empower your employees when they’re working in drastically different time zones?

According to Antti, getting employees on the same page is about more than just sending them a laptop. “Even in places where the technological gaps have been filled, there needs to be a cultural change,” he said. “Now that many people, especially those at knowledge work companies are independently working at a time and place of their choosing, we have to make information available in a self-serve, on-demand way.”

Collaboration off the clock

The best workplace for your business may not be a physical place at all. You may not even work at the same time. “When we free people from the limits or restrictions of a place, they also begin making choices of when they work. Synchronous ways of communication and collaboration don’t necessarily work anymore,” Antti said. “We have to accept new ways of asynchronous collaboration and work together differently than when we were all gathering together in a meeting room.”

One way that companies can get more done in an “always-on” world is by unlocking information and empowering their employees to access it when they need it.

“Maybe it’s a cultural thing that companies, managers, and leaders tend to keep information to themselves,” Antti said. “Unless there is a very specific confidentiality reason why it shouldn’t be, I’m an advocate of the thinking that most of the information should be available and accessible, from a technical and access rights point of view to pretty much every employee in the company.”

Lifelong learning

Another way to optimize processes and make your business more dynamic is to provide access to learning possibilities. “For us as leaders, it’s about enabling and empowering employees to be successful.” According to Antti, “our role is to provide ways for them to develop their skills.”

During the panel, Antti explained that existing platforms like LinkedIn Learning offer a lot of value to your employees’ skill set. However, you know your business best. Beyond creating comprehensive onboarding processes and information libraries, companies should offer their team members in-house learning and self-development courses that can be taken when and where they want.

“If you can provide extensive learning and self-development opportunities, I think you are doing a great job in enabling your employees to not only do what you hired them to do but to elevate themselves to the next level.” 

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/the-secrets-to-seamless-connection-and-collaboration

The Key to a Successful Digital Transformation in the Work From Home Era

Regardless of the type of business, you’re talking about, organizations invest in digital transformation for a myriad of different reasons.

Some turn to the power of modern technology to improve efficiency – empowering employees to communicate from department to department easier than ever before. Others want to guarantee that data can flow freely across the enterprise, making sure that the critical information that people need to do their jobs is always in the right hands. Others still do it for cost savings. Not only can a digital transformation save a tremendous amount of money upfront, but it’s an investment that will also continue to pay dividends for years to come.

All of these benefits have always been important – but they’re especially so given everything going on in the world right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March of 2020, as the pandemic first began to make its way across the world, millions of employees suddenly found themselves working from home indefinitely. As a result, many organizations suddenly realized that they lacked the infrastructure needed to support this revolution. In addition to not having access to the tools people needed to work as productively as possible, they found themselves in dire need of solutions that would allow them to share critical information as securely as possible. This is especially true in an industry like accounting and financial services, where firms are dealing with data that is decidedly more sensitive than most.

Even though vaccines are rolling out across the world, the number of remote workers isn’t exactly dropping. One recent study revealed that in August of 2021, about 13% of people were still working remotely full-time due to concerns about the pandemic and the newly emerged Delta variant, among others.

Indeed, working from home is a trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon – which means that organizations who were preparing for digital transformations prior to the pandemic need to seriously rethink their approach. The world has changed in a dramatic way and there’s no putting that particular genie back in the bottle. This is only a negative thing if you allow it to be. If you approach your digital transformation from the right perspective, you stand to gain enormously in a wide range of different ways, all of which are worth a closer look.

The Shifting Landscape of Post-Pandemic Life

Not too long ago, the team at M-Files partnered with Accountancy Age on a report that detailed what digital transformation – and business in general – has been like before, during, and (hopefully) after the pandemic. It featured survey respondents from a mix of organization sizes, ranging from those with 51 employees all the way up to those with 1,000 or more.

Overwhelmingly, the report revealed that accountancy firms in particular were simply not ready for the transition to fully remote work when lockdown restrictions were originally imposed. A massive 76.6% of respondents said that they initially battled significant challenges in terms of enabling staff to work productively from home – not to mention the difficulty they experienced in servicing clients as effectively as possible.

So much of this has to do with the fact that the accounting industry has long adopted a myriad of different applications and solutions to share, manage and store sensitive business data. This includes but is not limited to chat and video conferencing tools, enterprise content management systems, and more.

The issue here is that this almost immediately runs the risk of creating data silos that firms simply cannot afford to have existed. Again, information needs to be able to flow freely from one segment of the business to the next – regardless of where those employees happen to be. This is true not only in terms of allowing people to effectively collaborate with one another but with regard to empowering workflows as well. If critical data is trapped in a single repository and the person who needs it to do their job doesn’t have access to it – or worse, isn’t sure it exists at all – this only runs contrary to a firm’s goals.

Initially, in an effort to combat some of these risks, many accountancy firms took to sharing information with clients by sending physical copies in the mail. This was true of 44.4% of respondents. Another 79.4% of respondents said that they shared the same information via email. Not only do these methods pose a significant security risk, but they also affect traceability as well – leading to a poor client experience when the opposite should be your primary objective. 

The Future of the Workforce Has Arrived

All of these things underline the importance of digital transformation in the modern era – particularly during a time when the “new normal” that we’re all about to return to will likely have little resemblance to the one we left behind.

Case in point: data security. As stated, accountancy firms in particular lacked the infrastructure needed to truly support remote workers in the most secure way possible. In addition to email folders, respondents to the aforementioned survey said that they used files and folders across shared network drives, solutions like Microsoft SharePoint, CRM and ERP systems, dedicated accounting solutions, file sharing applications like Google Drive, and more to manage and share business and client documents within the firm itself.

The right approach to digital transformation is an opportunity to consolidate all of this down into one simple, easy-to-use system that is built with modern workflows in mind. M-Files, for example, is a document management system that allows information to be accessed based on not where a file is stored, but on what is contained within it. All data is stored via a system that can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on any device. More than that, permissions can be set to make sure that only the people who need a particular file to do their jobs have access to it – thus preventing that information from falling into the wrong hands.

Likewise, a digital transformation can be a great opportunity to create branded, customizable client portals that themselves can help accountancy firms better collaborate with clients. Not only does this guarantee the security and privacy of client documents, but it also improves the digital client experience as well.

In the end, a digital transformation is a massive undertaking, yes – but for most accountancy firms, the pandemic has proven that it’s an investment that is well worth making. “Change” and “disruption” are only negative words if you allow them to be. With the right perspective, you can see them for what they really are – opportunities just waiting to be taken advantage of to propel the next decade of your firm’s success and beyond.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/the-key-to-a-successful-digital-transformation-in-the-work-from-home-era

Regardless of the type of business, you’re talking about, organizations invest in digital transformation for a myriad of different reasons.

Some turn to the power of modern technology to improve efficiency – empowering employees to communicate from department to department easier than ever before. Others want to guarantee that data can flow freely across the enterprise, making sure that the critical information that people need to do their jobs is always in the right hands. Others still do it for cost savings. Not only can a digital transformation save a tremendous amount of money upfront, but it’s an investment that will also continue to pay dividends for years to come.

All of these benefits have always been important – but they’re especially so given everything going on in the world right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March of 2020, as the pandemic first began to make its way across the world, millions of employees suddenly found themselves working from home indefinitely. As a result, many organizations suddenly realized that they lacked the infrastructure needed to support this revolution. In addition to not having access to the tools people needed to work as productively as possible, they found themselves in dire need of solutions that would allow them to share critical information as securely as possible. This is especially true in an industry like accounting and financial services, where firms are dealing with data that is decidedly more sensitive than most.

Even though vaccines are rolling out across the world, the number of remote workers isn’t exactly dropping. One recent study revealed that in August of 2021, about 13% of people were still working remotely full-time due to concerns about the pandemic and the newly emerged Delta variant, among others.

Indeed, working from home is a trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon – which means that organizations who were preparing for digital transformations prior to the pandemic need to seriously rethink their approach. The world has changed in a dramatic way and there’s no putting that particular genie back in the bottle. This is only a negative thing if you allow it to be. If you approach your digital transformation from the right perspective, you stand to gain enormously in a wide range of different ways, all of which are worth a closer look.

The Shifting Landscape of Post-Pandemic Life

Not too long ago, the team at M-Files partnered with Accountancy Age on a report that detailed what digital transformation – and business in general – has been like before, during, and (hopefully) after the pandemic. It featured survey respondents from a mix of organization sizes, ranging from those with 51 employees all the way up to those with 1,000 or more.

Overwhelmingly, the report revealed that accountancy firms in particular were simply not ready for the transition to fully remote work when lockdown restrictions were originally imposed. A massive 76.6% of respondents said that they initially battled significant challenges in terms of enabling staff to work productively from home – not to mention the difficulty they experienced in servicing clients as effectively as possible.

So much of this has to do with the fact that the accounting industry has long adopted a myriad of different applications and solutions to share, manage and store sensitive business data. This includes but is not limited to chat and video conferencing tools, enterprise content management systems, and more.

The issue here is that this almost immediately runs the risk of creating data silos that firms simply cannot afford to have existed. Again, information needs to be able to flow freely from one segment of the business to the next – regardless of where those employees happen to be. This is true not only in terms of allowing people to effectively collaborate with one another but with regard to empowering workflows as well. If critical data is trapped in a single repository and the person who needs it to do their job doesn’t have access to it – or worse, isn’t sure it exists at all – this only runs contrary to a firm’s goals.

Initially, in an effort to combat some of these risks, many accountancy firms took to sharing information with clients by sending physical copies in the mail. This was true of 44.4% of respondents. Another 79.4% of respondents said that they shared the same information via email. Not only do these methods pose a significant security risk, but they also affect traceability as well – leading to a poor client experience when the opposite should be your primary objective. 

The Future of the Workforce Has Arrived

All of these things underline the importance of digital transformation in the modern era – particularly during a time when the “new normal” that we’re all about to return to will likely have little resemblance to the one we left behind.

Case in point: data security. As stated, accountancy firms in particular lacked the infrastructure needed to truly support remote workers in the most secure way possible. In addition to email folders, respondents to the aforementioned survey said that they used files and folders across shared network drives, solutions like Microsoft SharePoint, CRM and ERP systems, dedicated accounting solutions, file sharing applications like Google Drive, and more to manage and share business and client documents within the firm itself.

The right approach to digital transformation is an opportunity to consolidate all of this down into one simple, easy-to-use system that is built with modern workflows in mind. M-Files, for example, is a document management system that allows information to be accessed based on not where a file is stored, but on what is contained within it. All data is stored via a system that can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on any device. More than that, permissions can be set to make sure that only the people who need a particular file to do their jobs have access to it – thus preventing that information from falling into the wrong hands.

Likewise, a digital transformation can be a great opportunity to create branded, customizable client portals that themselves can help accountancy firms better collaborate with clients. Not only does this guarantee the security and privacy of client documents, but it also improves the digital client experience as well.

In the end, a digital transformation is a massive undertaking, yes – but for most accountancy firms, the pandemic has proven that it’s an investment that is well worth making. “Change” and “disruption” are only negative words if you allow them to be. With the right perspective, you can see them for what they really are – opportunities just waiting to be taken advantage of to propel the next decade of your firm’s success and beyond.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/the-key-to-a-successful-digital-transformation-in-the-work-from-home-era

Productive Processes and Profit Begins at Home!

In this age of 24/7 Client focus, it is easy for Practice Management to lose sight of the fundamentally important job of looking for internal systematic operating process bottlenecks.

In many cases hidden away in the business, there are functions that remain supported primarily by a mixture of seemingly permanent ‘temporary Shadow Systems” such as spreadsheets and shared drives, all supported by manually driven processes.

Quite often, due to budget prioritization, resource focus or simply not allocating “your own business review time”, opportunities to introduce robust, low-risk digital solutions to help improve productivity and bottom-line profitability are missed.

Typical questions that need to be asked include:

  • Can we ensure our compliance and governance processes are adhered to?
  • Are our data sources secure and controlled?
  • Are we maximising the value of our data?
  • Do our processes work seamlessly across the Practice and externally to our Clients?
  • Can we guarantee that GDPR request can be answered?
  • Am I sure that my KPI’s are based upon fact?
  • How can we work smarter?

Many organizations do not have an accurate accounting of their own IT estate. How many and what types of servers? How many and what types of applications? How well utilized is the IT estate? Are there redundancies in application licenses and maintenance? How much of the estate is at the end of service life (EOSL)? Can the estate be consolidated based on newer infrastructure?

Regular analysis of the costs and performance of your legacy applications identifies the gaps, performance degradation, outages, and service interruptions that inevitably arise.  The resulting analytics highlight areas that need to be modernized to improve the performance, availability, and support of your systems.

Importantly, the benefits of process optimization have a wider reach than just the business processes. The operational knowledge and experience needed to manage and oversee people-dependent processes tend to be concentrated in the heads of a few key individuals. This results in greater risk to the business. 

Ironically, fewer people with complete knowledge of key processes, also complicate succession planning, making transitions prone to disruptions, relationships with partners strained, and general discontent within the organization.

Ultimately, a more structured, stress-free working environment that enables your teams to function effectively, enhances well-being, and can contribute to staff retention, will enhance productivity, increase customer satisfaction and contribute to greater profitability.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/productive-processes-and-profit-begins-at-home

M-Files and Hubshare: Delivering a Best-in-Class Digital Client Experience

A key component of most successful organizations is truly seamless collaboration. Oftentimes, there is a tendency to think about collaboration with an internal focus – is everyone at my company able to collaborate? While that is certainly an important part of the equation, of equal or greater importance is the ability for companies to effectively collaborate with their customers and clients. Within the bounds of a single organization, it is possible to deploy a standard set of tools and processes that help aid in fostering a collaborative environment that is efficient, secure, and controlled. Outside those “walls”? Well, that’s another story. A confusing mix of email attachments, various file sync and share solutions, SharePoint repositories, and collaboration apps like Teams and Slack can create more complications than valuable connections. Relying on a hodgepodge mix of point solutions to share files, manage electronic signatures, or review project documents limit productivity and can increase business risk. Things can be simpler, intuitive, and more secure.

M-Files’ mission is to profoundly improve how companies do business in the digital, work-from-anywhere world. We feel like we’ve made great strides to meet that mission head-on and integrating Hubshare into our product portfolio is a key component of fully realizing our mission. Getting the right documents and information to the right people, when they need it, no matter where they are. With Hubshare, we are expanding that reach to include external parties and clients.

Hubshare offers a secure digital workplace portal that enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file sharing, and project management. Businesses can quickly and easily customize each portal to their client or project needs and provide users and external parties access to documents, processes, people, discussions, and more.

The environment for Professional Services and client-facing companies is fraught with challenges. Meeting and exceeding client expectations in an ever-evolving business landscape while ensuring workforce productivity is no small feat. Over the last year, we’ve all learned how important is to remain flexible and agile. The good news is that there are powerful solutions that can help your organization and your clients’ businesses thrive, no matter what lies ahead.

Contact us to learn more about how M-Files and Hubshare can strengthen your external content sharing capabilities and help you deliver best-in-class digital client experiences.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/m-files-and-hubshare-delivering-a-best-in-class-digital-client-experience