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Beyond SharePoint: Why Professional Services Need a Dedicated DMS

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By: Ville Somppi, Vice President, Professional Services Solutions, M-Files

According to a new Global IT Survey* conducted by M-Files, nearly 70 percent of today’s professional services organizations are utilizing document/content management systems. Document management systems can help make documents easy to find, manage and use — boosting productivity and reducing frustrations.

However, oftentimes professional services firms get too comfortable with the default, pre-loaded Microsoft solution, SharePoint, and forget to ask the question: Is SharePoint really the right fit for our needs?

Most organizations rely on the Microsoft 365 suite, simply because when you buy your basic Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint applications, the other applications are bundled into the same subscription. And the Microsoft solutions are great for the most part—the tools are easy to use immediately and don’t require much setup or training.

However, as these productivity tools continue to improve and become even easier to use, the challenge to efficiently manage the resulting output only becomes more acute. The risks of document sprawl, siloed information, and compliance gaps grow as it becomes easier for any member of the organization to quickly create, duplicate, and share content.

Add in a large professional services firm with more demanding needs, and that’s when the real trouble begins. For example, professional services firms often work in regulated industries with strict rules for data confidentiality and retention. While Microsoft may have capabilities in the premium subscriptions to support some of these requirements, very few firms are proficient in deploying those capabilities. And if someone invests in records management, for example, they want to have a tool that is meant for it.

The other major challenge with using Microsoft applications for information management revolves around the fact that Microsoft does not focus on organizing data. Information on Microsoft 365 sprawls very easily across personal OneDrive accounts, Teams, and folders. When authoring new documents and saving them on Microsoft 365, it’s not easy to know where each piece of information should go. And, since there’s typically no enforcement of where to store information, that information often gets lost – leading to duplication and a version control nightmare. Mix in legacy network drives and other business applications like CRM, and you’re left with complete information chaos.

Moral of the story? Just because SharePoint is free when you buy Microsoft 365, it doesn’t mean it’s your best solution for document management. SharePoint likely can’t adapt to your changing business needs, without investing heavily in developers to modify or add-on — an unsustainable solution leading to dissatisfaction.

In fact, the M-Files 2022 Global IT Survey results indicated that only 35.6 percent of professional services workers were very satisfied with their document/content management solution.

Solutions that specialize in information management, such as M-Files, are designed specifically to improve knowledge-worker power, increase consistency, reduce errors, and improve staff experience.

M-Files enables information to be seamlessly categorized and easily tagged for discovery, all while enforcing business rules and security policies. It leverages metadata to supercharge organization, search, and sharing of documents to automatically learn and help tag documents, allowing employees to focus on real work.

The best part? M-Files integrates seamlessly into the Microsoft 365 suite, offering a more efficient way to store information across repositories. Our customers secure their information processes and ensure compliance without sacrificing the productivity benefits of their Microsoft 365 investment.

Thirty-three percent of professional services firms polled in the M-Files 2022 Global IT Survey indicated that their organizations rely on integrations between systems. This reaffirms the need for document management platforms that easily integrate with today’s leading digital workplace platforms, allowing workers to perform day-to-day work utilizing their preferred applications.

Professional services firms that leverage M-Files in addition to the Microsoft 365 suite:

  • Solve the challenge of siloed information and version control
  • Automate processes that capture the entire document lifecycle—taking into account evolving stakeholder groups—without duplicating content
  • Maintain an information management structure that serves the entire organization and can evolve with changing demands
  • Ensure compliance with indexing, training, retention, and other records management requirements
  • Secure information with dynamic document-level access rights that allow for auditable temporary access without copying content
  • Avoid duplication and “shadow content management” via collaboration tools
  • Integrate with line of business applications outside the Microsoft ecosystem in order to connect and enrich documents with their database counterparts (e.g., as-built documentation with relevant ERP tags)

Ready to add that information management layer onto your Microsoft 365 suite? Register for our webinar on Tuesday, September 13 titled “Increase Information Scalability by Optimizing Your Microsoft 365 Investment!” to learn how to control your organization’s data and information, secure processes, ensure compliance, AND maximize the return on your Microsoft 365 investment.

Unable to attend? Schedule a demo today.

*The 2022 M-Files Global IT Survey polled respondents across North America, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific in industries including scientific/technical consulting research; financial services, investment services and wealth management; management consulting, and accounting.

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