About a week ago, you and Hong in HR had a meeting via VoIP to discuss requirements for some new software you need to purchase. You took some notes on a scrap of paper, but you can’t find that anywhere, and you’re on a call with a software vendor right now! When we let information wander off into tighter paths and circuitous mediums, it hits dead ends. The information ends up in silos, like your call with Hong that wasn’t recorded or your scrap of paper that wasn’t copied. Now, the only way to get the answer is to call Hong back up and hope she remembers the details. Not yet out of the pandemic woods, remote work sequesters our data into all these dead ends. We discuss projects on MS Teams, Skype, or Slack. Even though the applications have search functions, our data is hiding in that one more location only available to the participants. Unrecorded, untranscribed phone calls burn data into smoke, never leaving a trace to be referenced later on. Even if you take notes, who else has access, and will you remember what you meant at the time? In order to start clearing information silos, you and your colleagues must change company best practices and implement technology to centralize and automate your documents and document control.
Remote Work and Information Sharing
Quarantine has done a number on a lot of organizations. An open office plan now shattered into ten, twenty, fifty separate homes with separate computers and desktops. If you want to communicate with a colleague, even one in your own department, you have to call them up or message them. Giuseppe normally sat five feet from you and could jump into a discussion if they had some answers to offer; now, if you want that expertise, you need to rope him into the phone call or CC him in an email thread. Without ease of sharing, information gets stuck in smaller and smaller groups within your department and within your company. With due diligence, technical difficulties, implementation time, and training on new programs, the compounding effort of digital communication takes a toll. This can discourage users from communicating as often, or at all.
The way to break this cycle is to first establish some new habits. Many workforces are still adjusting to the home office, but we can learn from the sales department what it’s like to do most of your business online. After each lengthy chat thread or phone call, follow up with an email that contains the key details and an encompassing subject line. This sounds like it would just add another layer to the communication processes. Well, it is, but it is also saving you time and headaches by leaving a searchable paper trail to which all involved parties have access. You can search your emails at any time. If you just don’t have the time, find a way to integrate your chat program and your email client so that searching one will search both. Keep notes from phone calls and meetings in a CRM or document repository. Employees should compile all of this into reports sent ahead of weekly meetings, and each major meeting should conclude with minutes uploaded to a shared, searchable space. When you can amass and consolidate all of this metadata for unrecorded communication, it increases ease of access tenfold.
Digitize and Centralize Your Company Filing Structure
First, get everyone on the same page, or rather, the same server. If all of your users are keeping files in a joint repository, then everyone will be able to collaborate more easily, pass documents to one another, and find what they’re looking for. It may not be enough to drop everything willy nilly into a server and be done with it, though. You should work with each department to establish logical filing structures anyone can make heads or tails of. You also want to ensure your documents are secure in the process, and that goes for threats outside and mistakes inside an organization.
Content and document management takes saving files several steps further. Adding metadata when anything enters the system will ensure proper filing and increase searchability. Encryption safeguards files, while user permissions allow limited access for the right people. Right now, you want to be able to send documents between organizations without compromising security. Document management like Contentverse has options for that. By creating folders for specific departments and even individuals, you can create intentional silos that keep information safe rather than obscuring it. Contentverse complements your new good habits and uses your old habits to help you, slowing down the rate of mistakes while speeding up daily processed.
Sharing Content Through Automation
What we’ve been getting at is that spreading information around is the surest way to collapse silos. The more people that se it, the more know it exists and where to find it. You want it to be easily accessible. You want it to be visible. You want it to be kept in the context of like documents. Above all, you want your data to be in transit frequently and effectively until it is archived. Encryption for files on the move is invaluable. That can be hard to ensure unless you have a comprehensive workflow feature built into your content management.
With Contentverse, you’re no longer passing files along in an unstructured path. You’re sending them along pre-defined business processes in the system, with options enabled or disabled for leaving notes, approving and signing documents, and notifying you when you have a new document to view and take care of. Without alerts and to-do lists, information can fall through the cracks.
You should make some changes to your company culture and processes to keep everybody in the loop. While you’re at it, you can digitize and organize your files for maximum access and utility. Content management eliminates and even reverses the effects of information silos, getting you ready for an extension of remote work, a return to offices, or whatever the future holds.