Social distancing measures taken by responsible employers have greatly increased the number of employees working remotely. Even in the midst of this crisis, some companies and their employees can enjoy the objective benefits of not having to waste time and money on long commutes. At the same time, plenty of businesses really didn’t have the structure in place to support a vast, full-time work-at-home workforce with the security of business processes they needed.
Remote Workforce Security Challenges During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Because employees or departments scrambled for ad-hoc solutions to remote working, they sometimes sacrificed robust security to get up and running as quickly as possible. Sadly, cybercriminals can also work from home or other remote locations, and many saw the rise in remote workers as an opportunity.
For example, one survey of security professionals found:
- A majority of security employees struggled to offer strong security solutions to remote employees.
- At the same time, almost half of the respondents reported seeing an increase in phishing attempts.
- Most of these corporate security pros had concerns about their ability to scale security, respond to abrupt environmental changes, and the difficultly of controlling employee use of unknown and untested software.
Five Best Security Practices for Remote Employees
With the increase in cyberthreats and the concerns of security professionals in mind, it’s a good idea to consider some best practices to help keep business systems free of threats and just as important, to ensure compliance with rules that govern privacy and security in different industries.
1. Two-Factor Authentication
With two-factor authentication, sometimes called 2FA, users have to finish their login with a code that gets sent to another device, typically a cell phone. It takes a few seconds longer to access the system, but it provides better protection against phishing attacks. One CTO found that this simple measure reduced security problems in his company by almost 40 percent.
2. Use Secure Connections
Obviously, most of these home workers will rely upon their home Wi-Fi connections. Without any other protections, your security will only be as good as whatever the employee’s home internet company, router, and password can provide. To boost security, you might have employees log in through a VPN or other method of encrypting communication between their home device and your corporate systems.
3. Endpoint Security and Monitoring
No matter how well you protect logins and communication, you still can’t always avoid the threat of malicious code entering your system. On your server end, you can employ software to block threats and monitor system usages.
Even though most threats may stem from accidental vulnerabilities, it’s impossible to ignore the rise of inside jobs as a source of risks. Not only will these systems provide a firewall against malicious software, they can also send automatic alerts for unusual data use and provide a clear audit trail just in case something does happen.
4. Develop and Create Clear Security Policies
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, companies grappled with security issues that stemmed from remote workers and the rising use of personal devices.
- In some cases, you may allow personal devices, so long as employees adhere to other security policies. For instance, you may require installation of approved security software and only let employees login to your network through your corporate VPN.
- In other cases, you may ask employees in sensitive areas to only use the laptops or other devices that you have issued to them and to only use them in approved ways. For example, you may restrict these company-issued devices to work and not allow employees to use them to watch videos or browse social sites.
In any case, it’s important to develop clear policies. In addition to communicating these rules, you should also ensure that employees understand why they’re important and that they can incur consequences for ignoring them.
5. Deploy Secure Information Systems
Deploying intelligent and robust document and data management systems may not take as much of an effort as you think it will. These systems come designed and built to offer robust security and rule-based access for both in-house and remote workers. They also provide audit trails and guarantee recoverability, so if something suspicious happens, it’s easy to trace the issue to its source and remediate it.
How M-Files Offers the Best Solution for Remote and In-House Employees
Companies that already employed a smart data management system like M-Files didn’t have to worry about an abrupt change from working in a corporate office to a home office.
- Access to documents could already have been set by role, so the people who needed information would have an easy time accessing it, according to their security levels. To others, that same information would be invisible. The right people could view, change, add, or delete information, and others would not even see it exists.
- With built-in encrypted access and simple rollbacks for recoveribility, M-Files also has already been certifed as an ISO-27001 Certified Provider. This standard meets the requirements for the most sensitive data and systems.
Besides security, the intelligent features of M-Files can help improve your business processes. To learn how M-Files can help protect your business, employees, and information, schedule a custom demo today.
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.
It’s safe to say that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for all of us — especially for organizations that were in the process of undergoing their own digital transformations as the lockdowns started in March 2020. The need to use technology to support a fast-paced and agile workplace was always paramount — but somehow, it’s become even more so in an era where most of your employees are going to be working from home for the foreseeable future.
But at the same time, a silver lining is on the horizon. A COVID-19 vaccine rollout has already begun in the United States and elsewhere around the world. Soon, if everything goes according to plan, those lockdowns will be lifted and we’ll all slowly but surely start to return to normal. What that new normal looks like is anyone’s guess.
But the situation demands the question: what, then, becomes of your digital transformation efforts?
Now more than ever before, it’s crucial to make sure that the time and money you’re investing in your digital transformation strategy are focused on the right areas. Getting to that point isn’t necessarily difficult, but it will require you to keep a few key things in mind.
It’s All in the Plan
Especially given all the changes that have happened to the way we do business thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the best way to make sure you’re spending your time (and money) in the right places on digital transformation involves making sure that you have a plan at the heart of it all to begin with.
Yes, you want to be able to enjoy benefits like saving time, digitizing critical information, and opening up access to both documents and processes to anyone, anytime, anywhere. But to really make sure your strategy makes sense given your long-term goals; you need to go into as much detail as possible about what those goals actually are.
For example, are you trying to meaningfully improve the customer experience (or the perception those customers have) of your business? Is your number one priority to improve employee efficiency by automating a lot of time-consuming and menial processes. Do you want to implement some type of new system that will empower greater sales than prior to COVID?
For the best results, pick one or even two key objectives and build your plan (and your budget) around those needs. You can always return to the plan and make strategic adjustments later if things change.
If There Was Any Time to Embrace the Cloud, It’s Now
Along the same lines, at this point, it should be clear that whenever you’re implementing a large-scale project like a new CRM system or an intelligent information management platform, you want to make sure that system is as flexible as possible. This means that in the vast majority of situations, you’ll want to go with some type of cloud-based “software as a service” option unless you can think of a very, very good reason not to.
Sure, you may have (legitimate) concerns in terms of areas like security and data governance. But rather than shying away from the cloud because of them, work on finding out what you need to do to address them while still enjoying the massive amount of agility that the cloud brings with it.
Never forget that to make sure that your business is always at the very least aligned with (and in a best-case scenario ahead of) your competitors, you need to make sure the playing field is leveled. This means that you need to have the same level of agility that they do, and that’s something you’re not really going to get unless you embrace the cloud with open arms.
Engagement, Engagement, Engagement
Finally, you need to understand that even the most perfectly executed digital transformation in the world ultimately won’t mean much if your new systems aren’t realizing close to full utilization. If key staff members and stakeholders don’t want to use the new system because they think it’s “too complex” or “less effective” than what they’re coming from, they probably won’t use it — end of story.
Change management is vital to digital transformation. Therefore, you need to make sure you’re using a portion of your budget to train people on the new solution. Engage all key parties to make sure they understand the exact benefits of this change at this particular time. Don’t forget to budget for either ongoing or even future consultancy costs if that’s what it takes because your new tool may be powerful, but it won’t generate anywhere near the results that you’re after if people aren’t willing to use it.
The following article is a guest post by Wendy Seykens, Marketing and Communications Coordinator with M-Files partner BMconsultants.
This year has become the year of virtual meetings — where we all convene together to discuss business. An hour here, half an hour there. Sounds familiar, right? These meetings are a source of the occasional funny moment…
“Oh wait, my microphone was still muted.”
“I’m having connection problems.” (Sounding like a garbled, drive-through speaker.)
“Please excuse my 5-year-old’s temper tantrum.”
But put all of these light moments aside, the advent of remote work (and how that carries into an abundance of virtual meetings) has led to many inefficiencies and, frankly, unnecessary stress in working with business documents.
The following document mismanagement moments are all too common sources of stress for knowledge workers — and they’re avoidable, too. Check out these situations that many have surely found themselves in.
1 | It’s Challenging to Search and Find the Right Documents
During a strategy meeting on Microsoft Teams, you’re looking for the latest version of an agenda made by a colleague.
“Wait a minute, I think this is it! Do you see it? Oh. This is not the latest version? Okay, what about this one?”
It’s so frustrating and time-consuming to constantly search for the right information.
You send the link to a document in the chat window. Later, multiple links are shared back and forth, and multiple comments are made in the chat.
Note to self: Don’t forget which is the link to the latest version and don’t miss those comments that pertain to your work.
Two days and three projects later… You’ve forgotten which chat the links were in, which link is the most current and which comments you need to pay attention to. So, you reread the whole chat log all over again, like a bad novel.
3 | It’s a Secure Work Environment, Right?
“Hello, everyone. This meeting is being recorded. Did you adjust the cost breakdown? And did you also make sure that the associated contracts are changed? Oh. You’ve already sent the documents in the chat? Thank you very much.”
And then you think to yourself… Is this actually a safe way to share sensitive information and files? Have we checked this with IT?
4 | Which Device is that Document on, Again?
Just before a meeting, you look for a document, so that you can discuss it.
“It really should be on my laptop.” Searching, searching, searching. No luck.
“Didn’t I have it on the desktop in my home office?” Nope.
“Wait, no. It was on my iPad. Let me email it to myself.” Still waiting. Ah, there it is.
Fifteen minutes later than planned, you finally join the online meeting with the right document.
A Simple Solution: M-Files Intelligent Information Management
Have these situations happened to you? And now that you’re aware of these situations, think about how much time is wasted searching and, above all, finding the right documents. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. All of it adds up. In fact, Gartner says that professionals spend 50% of their time searching for information, and on average, take 18 minutes to locate each document.
How nice would it be if you could search and find all of your work files in one central system? What if it no longer mattered where a file is? What if you could you search across the entire information ecosystem with the help of metadata? What if that central system was integrated with, for example, Microsoft Office 365 and Teams?
There must be an easy solution for that. Yes, there is. With M-Files, these stressful, annoying moments are forever a thing of the past. M-Files is a unique intelligent information management solution that enriches the way businesses secure, process and manage data and content — documents, images, emails, customer information, or other information objects.
M-Files classifies and manages information based on ‘what’ it is, rather than ‘where’ it’s stored. Regardless of whether that information lives in the M-Files platform, or across other systems and repositories, information can be accessed and managed through a single view, without needing an expensive and time-consuming data migration.
M-Files offers connections to network drives, Microsoft and Google apps, as well as major business applications and other document management systems. Ultimately, M-Files lets you fast-track digital business transformation by breaking down silos in separate applications, systems and repositories.
What is a document management system? Put simply, a document management system is an automated business software solution used to organize, secure, store, capture, digitize, and tag business files.
Many document management systems extend beyond basic functionality to include document-related workflows. There are a ton of other add-ons, features and capabilities touted by some document management systems — which has led to other names and designations like enterprise content management (ECM), enterprise information management (EIM) and intelligent information management (IIM).
The term document management often refers to an overarching strategy for how a company stores, manages and tracks its electronic documents.
How does a Document Management System Work?
Business.com claims that there are three main functions of a document management system — to capture, store and distribute documents. Again, in its most basic definition, a document management system should at least do those three things well.
Document Management Systems Should Capture Documents from any Source
A document management system should have a way to input documents and files from varied sources. Some sources might include:
Once documents are loaded into the DMS from whichever source, the DMS should feature a way to index and classify those documents — often with metadata.
Document Management Systems Should Serve as a Central Repository
A basic function of a document management system is to serve as the hub — the central repository — for company files. Many basic DMS require a massive migration project to move all business-critical documents into the system. More advanced intelligent information management solutions like M-Files connect to existing repositories — applying metadata and relationships to documents stored in other systems. With integrations, there’s no need for migration and the environments of other systems can remain undisturbed.
One storage consideration should be information security. A central storage location helps protect enterprise information from malicious actors. With advanced dynamic permissions, organizations can control who has access to certain documents or classes of documents.
Document Management Systems Should Facilitate Document Search and Retrieval
A document management system should make information easy to find for users. With metadata, all files are tagged so that they can be found by a multitude of parameters. For example, metadata for an invoice might be tagged with:
- Parties to the invoice
- Important dates
- Business unit or department
- Description of services rendered, or products purchased
With all of that information attached to the document’s metadata, searches yield better results and users can retrieve documents faster and simpler. In M-Files, documents can be found using a Google-like search, which returns the most relevant files first.
What are Document Management Systems Used for?
A document management system is used to automatically organize, secure, digitize and classify company documents, making them easy to access, edit and share. Originally, document management systems were borne as companies sought to shift operations away from a paper-based office — with manila folders and filing cabinets. Since then, document management has taken on a more central role in the enterprise tech stack, facilitating workflows and bridging disparate repositories into a central hub.
What Types of Document Management System are There?
There are a few different types of document management system — depending on how they are classified.
Cloud vs. On-Premises Document Management System
What does your preferred IT environment look like — cloud-based, on-premises or hybrid?
Cloud-based document management systems store your files in the cloud, making them accessible anywhere there’s an internet connection.
Some companies may require on-premises document management, where files are stored on a local server. This may be necessary when certain regulations mandate local storage or when certain countries require data sovereignty, for example.
A hybrid DMS allows for a combination of both options.
Folder-Based vs. Folderless Document Management System
Some document management systems are folder-based — simply using traditional file structures of folders and sub-folders within the system. Other systems are folderless, metadata-based and repository-agnostic like M-Files. In this type of system, it doesn’t matter where a document is stored. The only thing that matters is what the document is — which is a function of metadata.
What are the Main Features of an Effective Document Management System?
As mentioned, a document management system may have several features that graduate into more intelligent information management practices. Some key features to explore in a DMS include:
Search: An effective DMS helps users find documents and information based on document identifiers, metadata, relationships and content.
Metadata: 93% of workers are unable to find a document because it has been poorly named or filed. In a DMS, because information is tagged with metadata based on what it is, the same information can be searched for and found using different criteria depending on the use case. Unique information appears dynamically where it is needed without duplication.
Integrations: Many document management systems integrate with other business systems and repositories — email, network folders, CRM, ERP, legacy ECM and others.
Version control: Version control features ensure access to the latest version of a document. Version control and tracking make it easy to see what has changed, who did it and when the change was made.
Regulatory compliance support: If you operate in a regulated industry, a document management system can help reduce the risk of non-compliance. Users can automate audit trails and manage information and related workflows in accordance with compliance regulations.
Scalability: When selecting a document management system, a company should pay attention to the scalability of that system. Looking beyond current needs, find a DMS that has advanced features that accommodate busines growth or change.
Security: A DMS should provide robust security features like access permission and control features, audit trails, federated authentication, enterprise file encryption in transit and at rest, intrusion detection, data loss prevention, high availability and more.
Usability: Since a DMS becomes core technology for the business, it’s important that the user experience is a great one — with easy accessibility, little to no downtime and simple-to-use features. Employees should be able to easily access, manage and navigate files.
Collaboration: A DMS should make it simple for users to share and collaborate on documents — with features like project document management, task tracking, workflows, co-authoring and easy sharing of documents between users.
Content intelligence: Some advanced document management systems employ artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence can help classify documents by populating metadata fields, scan files for certain data and separate business-critical data from clutter.
Workflows: Manually managing day-to-day processes isn’t a good use of time. A DMS with workflow automation helps ensure consistency by verifying that every step in a business process is followed. Automated workflows streamline common business processes — like contract approvals, controlled content, and invoicing — sending a notification when there’s a task to be handled.
Remote Work: A cloud-based DMS allows users to access files from anywhere and often from any device — enabling remote work anywhere: at the office, home, airport, hotel, coffee shop… anywhere.
What are the Benefits of Using a Document Management System?
A DMS should make work easier, more productive, and more efficient, saving staff hours of tedious tasks and the exasperation of not finding the documents they need quickly. Main benefits include the following:
When workers spend less time searching for documents or tending to manual, repetitive tasks, they have more time to dedicate to value-adding work.
Decreased Security Risk
Keeping information secure and applying dynamic access controls reduces information security risk and exposure. In the event of an unforeseen fire or flood, disaster recovery is simple when documents are stored in the cloud.
Improved Compliance Measures
Compliance requirements for many business documents can be complicated and challenging. A DMS helps organizations avoid fines, revoked licenses or even criminal liability by automating key documents to meet regulatory requirements.
Fast and Easy Document Search
Workers spend an average of 18 minutes searching for a document, according to Forrester. A metadata-based DMS makes it quick and easy to find just the right document.
A DMS makes sharing information and collaborating easy, allowing documents from different sources to be accessible from multiple locations. Users can share documents, monitor workflows, co-author documents, and more.
At its core, a digital transformation is all about taking the business you have today and helping it evolve into the organization you WANT to be running tomorrow through a newer and more innovative approach to technology. It’s a way to modernize your infrastructure, improve user experience, and create a bold new company culture — all at the exact same time.
It is possible to get this all wrong, however, and the results could be disastrous if you’re not careful. By understanding the top five causes of digital transformation failure, you can take steps to avoid them at all costs.
The Myth of the “We Can Do It Ourselves” Mentality
One of the most admirable things about the entrepreneurial spirit is the idea that “we can do it all ourselves.” After all, the mentality that “there’s no better person for the job than me” is a big part of the reason you are where you are right now. It’s why businesses thrive and enjoy a tremendous amount of success because of it.
It also, unfortunately, happens to be another one of the major reasons why digital transformations fail.
This is especially true when it comes to technology partners, who a lot of people make the mistake of viewing less as an organic part of the execution strategy and more like an afterthought. Make no mistake about it: they are NOT passive third parties who are going to come in when you tell them to, do what you tell them to, and leave, never to be heard from again.
If your digital transformation is going to succeed, you can’t be afraid to ask for help — and that’s especially true in terms of finding partners to come in and fill a few of the tech-related gaps that you may have. These partners need to be a part of your execution strategy from the moment you start working on it and they need to be willing to stand by your side and lend a helping hand every step of the way.
Scaling Too Quickly is Just as Bad as Not Scaling at All
Most of the time, the types of people who initiate changes want to see results as quickly as possible. This is all well and good — unless you’re trying to implement several changes at once as you would be in a digital transformation. It’s impossible to control everything at that type of speed, so don’t even try.
Instead, slow down and pay attention to those little details. Digital transformation is BORN from those details. Scale and transform processes one-by-one and just remember — there really is no need to rush.
The Bottom-Up Approach
Another one of the reasons why many digital transformations fail has to do with the Bottom-Up Approach. That is, the advocacy for the digital transformation process begins with one or maybe even a select few employees who love the idea of automating processes, implementing new technologies, or changing the company culture in some appreciable way.
This is all great — but it requires them to essentially work their way UP the organization, getting buy-in from all key stakeholders along the way. While it’s likely that they’ll be able to get a lot of their contemporaries onboard, they’ll almost never be able to achieve 100% support — thus dooming a digital transformation initiative before it ever really had a chance to get off the ground.
Instead, you should use a Top-Down Approach where leadership buys in FIRST and evangelizes digital transformation initiatives along the way.
The Danger of Silos
By far, one of the major reasons why a lot of digital transformations fail comes down to siloed activity and especially siloed information. Never forget that a true digital transformation is all about allowing a business to evolve from its very core — so anything less than an “all hands on deck” approach simply won’t suffice.
But if one department is engaged in activities that another is totally unaware of, how are they supposed to work with and complement one another? How will Department A be able to understand that what they’re doing will have a very real impact on Department B? If information is siloed because departments and individuals still want to use their own systems, how is any type of collaboration supposed to take place at all?
Thankfully, avoiding this type of situation altogether is easy — you just have to make sure that you have the right tools and resources in place before your digital transformation begins. One of those will undoubtedly be an information management platform, with M-Files being among the most prominent examples. Here, it doesn’t matter where critical information for your digital transformation happens to be stored — M-Files automatically works with many different repositories to bring everything together. All data is available via a straightforward interface that everyone in a business can access — thus allowing information to flow freely across your enterprise during a time when that is desperately needed.
Unclear Goals Always Create a Resistance to Change
Finally, we arrive at the idea of unclear goals — a problem that a lot of people don’t realize even exists until it’s far too late.
If your only goal for your digital transformation is “embrace new technology” or “gain a competitive advantage,” that really isn’t as specific as you think it is. Before you begin your digital transformation, you need to sit down and think about what you’re really trying to do. Are you trying to bring about a strategic initiative that will help your business reach a new level of revenue? Is there some other type of specific, precise business goal you have in mind? Are you trying to take advantage of process automation, remote working, or something of that nature?
It doesn’t actually matter what it is — so long as the goal itself is clear at the beginning of this process. Unclear business goals are also unfortunately the ones that you’ll have the most difficult time explaining to your employees — meaning that it’s going to be hard to get them on board, too. This almost always creates a resistance to change that is difficult to course correct from, which is why you’d want to avoid this type of situation in the first place.
In the end, don’t forget that digital transformation will impact both the experience you’re offering to your customers AND your company culture in one fell swoop. If you make the types of mistakes as outlined above, you run the risk of damaging both, at once. But if everything goes off the way it should, you’ll have the makings of genuine competitive advantage in both fields that will serve you well for years to come.