Workflow Automation Software

Captains of Industry are Building Conglomerations

via Flickr HRP2911I heard a story about how there is a push to bring the “Hipster” crowd to Eau Claire Wisconsin, a family oriented, affordable, city of 150,000+ in Northern Wisconsin.  My first response was that with current technology, people can choose to live wherever they want, so why not Eau Claire.  Having this opportunity is not a new concept and in fact, people working remotely is very commonplace already. 

However, what it brought to mind was that it’s not just your remote employees that you need to plan for these days.  Today some portion of your business process may be outsourced and you need to plan for those workers as well.  Where are those workers and how will they be included in the process?  How does your technology support this new conglomeration?

Who is part of your organization and where they are located is blurring.  Companies and their systems need to function efficiently and securely with traditional networked employees, remote employees and these third party participants.  The dreams of some early technology proponents and visionaries to getting work done wherever you are is getting closer to reality.

Phone systems can reach someone on any device no matter what number was dialed.  Messaging and email systems can include any user in the communication chain.  ERP systems, which manage the accounting and production process, are now web based.  It is much easier to make people feel like part of the team with Skype or GoToMeeting or other desktop sharing, video meeting systems. 

And of course file cabinets are now online providing access to drawings, specs, reports and other documentation that is needed to perform tasks.  And with web based workflow and digital signatures, virtually any business process, whether it involves internal users only or includes external users, can now be done via the web. 

Processes that involve employees in the office, remote employees or remote third party users, can now be structured to be the optimal process, not the optimal process under the physical circumstances.  You too can be a titan of industry – use technology to build your conglomeration. 

Millennia Group provides web based document management and workflow solutions with integration capabilities to ERP systems.  For more information, please visit www.mgdocs.com or contact us at info@mgdocs.com or (630) 279-0577 x122.

Active vs Final Documents – Co-habitation?

Via Flickr - Stuart BassilA technology issue that companies deal with on a regular basis is using one application for managing active or working documents and a separate application for the archived or final documents. Active being defined as documents in the creation or working stage and final being final or executed.

This situation exists because of how and why these documents are created, accessed and shared. Certain employees are document Creators and others are document Users and their needs are very different. The Holy Grail is one application to manage both. The reality is you need two applications. Let us explain why that is not a bad thing.

Speed and flexibility is demanded by the document Creators. The Creators just want to get their job done and get it done quickly. But that is inconsistent with the rules imposed by a document management and retention system. The document Users need the documents to support the sales, accounting or customer service functions and they need the information to be exactly where they expect to find it – it’s all about rules, control and process.

For Creators and active documents, the most common “applications” for managing the files are a network drive and folder system or a file sharing application. These applications make it very easy to create and store the files and share them via email or upload. The lack of rules allows each Creator to do their own thing in the way they work best. Employees don’t want to spend time filling in 6 description fields for each document, checking it in and checking it out. This is especially difficult when outside parties are involved, like contractors or lawyers.

For Users of final documents, companies have realized that a document management system is the only way to ensure that employees are accessing the right documents to make critical business decisions. Without a document management system, files are lost due to a lack of naming consistency or the documents are hard to find due to the share volume of folders to click through. A document management system helps force minimum descriptions and controls access to the documents.

The solution to the issue is to have a process and training to ensure that the final document goes into the document management system and follows all the rules in the transition. This can be handled via a workflow process or by establishing formal procedures. All relevant information needs to be captured and all required documents should be accounted for. There is even the possibility of migrating all working files into the final archive so that the entire history is available, but not cluttering up the Users view.

It is very difficult to build one application that is both flexible and open and yet have the control and security needed. It is more efficient to build a process that connects the two applications while letting each divergent set of user’s work how they work.

If you have questions about document management and workflow, please contact us, we would love to hear from you.

www.mgdocs.com, (630) 279-0577 x122 or info@mgdocs.com.

It’s Tax Day – Do you know where your Supporting Documents Are?

IRS Publication 4837, otherwise known as “Achieving Quality Examinations through Effective Planning, Execution and Resolution” published by the IRS Large Business and International Division, indicates that it would be wise to have supporting documents readily available when audited.  Because you want to defend your position and you really don’t want the cost of responding to the audit to be greater than the potential tax impact.

The IRS will make Information Document Requests (“IDRs”) to support claims made on any entities tax return involved in an audit.  Various types of documentation support revenue recognition and expense claims.  It is highly recommended that this documentation being organized, accessible and easily reproduced – sounds like a perfect scenario to justify an electronic document management system (“EDMS”).

Some types of documents that support revenue recognition are contracts, leases and licenses.  To support transactional events like acquisitions or dispositions, closing binders will have the required documents.  Expenses are of course supported by vendor invoices or contracts and payroll reports.  Other documentation includes bank statements, journal entries with supporting documents and even market reports (mark to market).

If your business is ever involved in an audit and the IRS issues an IDR, it is good practice to assemble the requested documentation in electronic format and retain an exact copy of the information provided.  That way as the IRS reviews and responds to the new information, you are looking at exactly the same information that they are.

Supporting documentation that is organized and electronic will speed up the audit process and reduce internal costs to respond.  Supporting documentation in an EDMS that can export the files and retain the organizational structure will greatly reduce response costs.  Supporting documentation actually linked to the specific tax forms and line items is a dream, possible, but a dream at this point.

Millennia Group, LLC, Information [Found] is Power – www.mgdocs.com, info@mgdocs.com, (630) 279-0577 x122

Document Sharing – Why Overcomplicate it?

Courtesy of FlikrDocuments used to be shared by photocopying and FedEx. That progressed to PDF and email, which has been replaced by free file sharing websites. There are also highly secure deal sites available for Wall Street transactions. The reality is that all of these methods are in use because each one meets somebody’s unique need for security, simplicity or both.

In today’s world of massive amounts of information being available and demanded, many times the need is to share hundreds or thousands of documents. To share that quantity of documents is not practical with email or FedEx. Some type of organized, online access is required. But how do you make it both simple and secure?

What a great idea to use an online file storage system. Lots of companies use FTP sites or file sharing sites to quickly create a folder structure and then upload files. In this scenario, the user needs to assemble exactly what is needed (maybe download from an existing system), upload all of the files to the secure site, then contact the user and hope they get in and can find what they need.

But now you have the same files in at least two places, probably three, and that can create compliance and security problems. It also means that a username and password will be required to access the files. If you frequently use these types of systems, your head spins from all the usernames and passwords. There is also an issue of keeping track of what has and hasn’t been posted to these external sites or downloaded from the source system. Where is the simplicity?

For companies that have migrated their documents to a document management system (DMS) the files are presumably well organized and secure. So wouldn’t it be simple to just provide the user with access to your system? We all have the same thought – SECURITY. How is this managed, who manages this, are the files organized in such a way that it is even possible to manage?

A better solution might be a method of providing a view into your DMS for a selected set of files (files subject to the security rights of the user who is sharing the files), but only to a registered computer and email address – think banking. No username or password to remember. No need to reorganize or track what version the user has access to. Good user tracking. This method seems to provide reasonable security plus simplicity for provider and user.

Millennia Group’s FileStar document management system is working on a release that will provide some great options for document sharing and it will have the security nailed too. Watch for an announcement.

www.mgdocs.com, (630) 279-0577 x122, info@mgdocs.com