Tuesday, 28th January 2020

Can effective information management improve nationwide productivity?

Tim Waterton, Director of UK Business at M Files, explains that investment in the right ECM solution can create a more productive office.

The UK’s flailing productivity is a topic of constant discussion, since it began its steady decline following the financial crisis in 2008/2009: in 2007, British productivity was 9 per cent below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average and by 2015, the gap had widened to 18 per cent. The fall in productivity was the result of total hours worked growing faster than output.

More recently, the Office for National Statistics reported that productivity growth of UK workers fell to a two-year low in the third quarter of 2018 reinforcing that the issue shows no signs relinquishing. Technology is often seen as an antidote to workplace inefficiencies, and if implemented correctly can free employees from the burden of time-consuming, data heaving administrative tasks, but as with everything the right technologies must be in

place. If not, productivity issues can exacerbate further.

Recently, M-Files released a report, which surveyed 1,500 office workers across multiple global regions to establish an organisational benchmark on how business manage and organise information.

Research included the identification of top document management challenges that thwart workplace efficiency, costing organisations time and money. The findings found that 82 per cent of respondents stated navigating different systems and locations to find the correct version of a file they are looking for negatively affects their productivity. Poll participants identified the following additional impediments to staff productivity and effectiveness:

  • 42 percent cited challenges with improper or incorrect labelling of documents
  • 41 percent reported that information was frequently stored in the incorrect folder or system -- with 29 percent asserting information was misplaced or lost
  • 26 percent cited challenges determining which system or repository to search, while 26 percent were unsure whether they found the current version of a document

So, where does the solution lie? Again, this goes back to the technology that is in place.

Managing content is a time-consuming and complex task and often overlooked as an area where substantial productivity gains can occur. Information management processes can reduce frustrating steps, improve the user experience, eliminate human error and, ultimately, improve productivity.

These figures should serve as a wake-up call to organisations of all sizes that they must fundamentally change their information management practices, regardless of whether they are in a productivity slump or not.

In today's business environment, employees struggle to access content quickly and easily while navigating a plethora of information scattered across multiple data repositories. To tackle declining employee productivity, enterprises should consider the role that intelligent information management solutions can play in advancing the way information in processed and managed, enabling staff to focus on more value-added tasks.

Leveraging intelligence

It’s important that any technology deployed makes life easier for employees. Leveraging intelligence services to help auto-classify information streamlines the process of managing information, and can ensure consistency and compliance across an organisation. Not only will a user no longer have to think “where should I save this document”, they will now not even have to think about “how should I classify this document” or “what metadata should I apply” as artificial intelligence (AI) can help automate this process.

Deploying an information management platform can be critical to enhancing workplace productivity, but the way this is approached should be carefully considered to reduce risk, cost, and most importantly ensure employee buy-in – as without employees actively embracing these systems they will simply become another failed initiative. This is where the importance of an agile platform, and an Agile project methodology, come to the forefront.

The recent M-Files report indicates that many businesses manually store information utilising outdated hierarchical folder structures across a variety of disparate and often unintegrated systems. In addition, 91 percent of respondents reported that their job would be easier if they could quickly and easily access the most current version of a document, without having to worry about the system or repository in which it resides.

Time spent looking for documents and recreating those already in existence comes at the expense of other, more productive tasks and can directly impact on a business’s profitability. For firms with digital aspirations, it is critical that senior management listen to their staff, understand the challenges which exist for them when managing information and take account of this when building out their digital strategy.

Modern intelligent information management systems allow users to search for information using context established by the type of document, such as a contract or proposal, and its relationships to customers, projects, cases or literally any other organisational element important to the business. This removes much of the complexity for staff, enabling them to intelligently organise and easily retrieve the most relevant and current information without having to worry about where it's actually stored.

Creating a digital workplace to enhance productivity

Many UK organisations are championing digital investment as a tool to aid workplace productivity, but it's all too easy to lose focus on where to target that investment. The data shows that far too many organisations are simply failing to provide employees with the right platform to efficiently manage information in the workplace and this represents a very real flaw in aspirations for greater efficiency.

Organisations need to realise that internal working culture also needs to evolve if the potential of the technology is to be maximised. Employees will need to grasp a new level of automation, but with a comprehensive approach to implementation, which incorporates adequate training and gives staff time to adjust, investing in intelligent information software can reap benefits for years to come.

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