The following is a guest post from one of M-Files partner Iron Mountain Europe, authored by Andrie Neocleous.

As we try to assess the impact of the pandemic, our thinking inevitably revolves around how this epidemiological crisis will affect the work of each of us, but also what consequences it will have on the professional scene as a whole. This year, the world faced one of the worst public health crises, disrupting all aspects of our lives.

So, what are the implications for the business world?

What experiences and possibly lessons can we learn from this pandemic?

Undoubtedly, the professional scene will change drastically.

The current situation has already forced many organizations to adopt new work practices and shift to remote work. Concepts like efficiency and productivity, which have always been a priority for businesses are still as valid as ever, resulting in the urgent need of diversification of many aspects of business operation, particularly enhancing the need for digital transformation.

Without any warning, companies were faced with the challenge of finding ways to help their people work from home, while providing them with access to documents and systems regardless of where they are physically located. Of course, the practice of remote work has been around for a while now, but the unprecedented conditions we are experiencing have accelerated the need for either its implementation or its further development. But how is it ensured, in the midst of a lock down or an unexpected temporary closure of the business, that employees will remain productive?

Thanks to the smart technologies of intelligent information management (IIM) as well as scanning, several organizations can already manage, organize, and securely store large volumes of electronic and physical documents.

It’s faster to search and find documents through the IIM systems. It’s a more efficient use of employee time with less paper management and more digitization.

And it all has a positive effect on the operating costs and business continuity of a company.

At the same time, IIM systems have the potential to enhance the company’s business continuity readiness and help restore professional normalcy as quickly as possible. At the same time, with the digitization of documents, which is very important, the correct analysis of the needs that will be covered is also crucial. Specifically, by digitizing business processes, we ensure the upgrade and automation of existing processes and the planning of others.

Document scanning services are offered by Iron Mountain, either as a Backlog Project level or even as a continuous flow — an Ongoing Project — in conjunction with the electronic document management service, as a complete service. The best way to manage a handwritten process may not be to simply “translate” digital workflows into a modern information system. Perhaps the best way to manage this is to re-evaluate practices and how to manage them, as well as redesign them, which will optimize production and make better use of human resources.

Adopting an integrated electronic document management solution also offers the following:

  • Minimizing the distribution of printed material among employees
  • Automation of document handling — incoming and outgoing
  • Improving the speed of searching, sending, and receiving documents as well as minimizing any delays, taking into account the volume of documents
  • Safer storage and security of important document content
  • Reducing the required storage space
  • More efficient and flexible access to archived documents
  • Automation of the assignment and monitoring of task implementation

My ten-year experience at Iron Mountain, has taught me that business transformation and particularly digital transformation has not been as high a priority as it should be, although organizations have been researching options and solutions for some time. Market conditions, however, have revised these priorities due to the pandemic and their transformation has become imperative. Most companies have taken no precautionary measures, proving that they are not only unprepared to carry out their work remotely, but also face enormous challenges. Challenges like:

  • The difficulty of employees accessing documents and managing the volume of documents
  • The inability to maintain the security of their files
  • And, fatally, the inability to provide adequate services and support to their customers

A typical example is that of accounting documents and data. Invoices can be sent electronically to customers, while other documents, such as invoices, which are received in hard copy, can be digitized and processed electronically. Thus, an accounting department can easily process and evaluate the company’s finances, speeding up procedures. Same processes can be applied to email management, data of customer, staff and suppliers, contract management, quality management, project management, task management… the list goes on.

The implementation of the M-Files system in conjunction with document digitization, ensures not only the operational continuity of many companies but also the maintenance of a productive and efficient environment, even remotely. It is therefore imperative that companies realize how high the stakes really are. It’s not IF they will use the technology to transform but HOW, in what way, and how quickly they will do so. Organizations and businesses that insist on investing in digital modernization, while at the same time offsetting short-term strategies with long-term measures, have all the background to succeed and emerge from this crisis with significant competitive advantages.

In conclusion, perhaps what we have gained most in the current period is how crucial adaptability and flexibility are in relation to the survival of a business. As in all aspects of our lives, in its business aspect, those with quick reflexes — those that adapt, innovate and transform — will not only survive but also gain an advantage over the rest.

Now more than ever it is necessary to become innovative and creative! As the English writer H.G. Wells very poignantly said, “Adapt or perish.”