Maximising agility through more adaptable information management
The information management needs of the manufacturing sector are as diverse as the products it makes. But many companies find themselves relying on cookie-cutter information management solutions that are poorly suited to their specific needs. This applies in both paper-based and digital workflows, with different consequences for each.
Businesses working mostly with hard copies will commonly find that their information management provider cannot accommodate their existing indexing system, making files difficult to request and retrieve. For manufacturers operating in multiple locations, third-party information management providers are frequently unable to deliver files in a timely, secure manner — especially outside of urban areas. Sensitive documents are also often left exposed during transit due to a broken chain of custody where the primary custodian outsources to courier services that may then outsource to freelancers who are not accountable to the initial employer. Ultimately, any impediment to information flow has a severe impact on manufacturers’ agility, and their profits.
For digital information systems, manufacturers engaging an external provider can be forced to use an inflexible interface that fails to intuitively mesh with their existing practices or allow customisation using terminology specific to their business. Companies can also find themselves limited by the document formats available through third-party systems, which affects both their ability to access files on any device from any location and the ease with which information can be shared between business units.
Some businesses respond to these challenges by opting to handle their information management internally. But this can end up as a financial liability due to an unrealistic appraisal of the capability of in-house services, as well as leading to accessibility and compliance problems. The worst-case scenario from a financial and organisation perspective is when information exists in a variety of formats spread over multiple different systems managed by different in-house and third-party solutions.
Manufacturers can also fail to ask the right questions in order to understand the full service offerings of contractors, meaning they often end up outsourcing their ICT systems, information management, cleaning services, office relocation logistics and worksite FF&E to completely different providers. Rarely will a company look for a contractor that rolls all of these services into a single, cost-saving solution.
The best information management partners offer fully customisable systems that minimise the hassle of transitioning from old processes to new ones. Hard copies stored off site are not only transported around the country quickly, but within an unbroken chain of custody — never leaving the direct possession of the company commissioned with their carriage. Superior digital information management systems are capable of functioning on any device and delivering files in any format for maximum flexibility in information sharing. If necessary, disparate information management solutions can also be integrated into a single system that is tailored to the specific needs of the company as a whole, or individual business units.
Manufacturers should also ask their information management partner what additional services they offer, and what cost savings engaging those services might have. The best information management firms integrate their archiving, digitisation and retrieval solutions with a wider range of offerings, including information courier services, fully customisable ICT interfaces, cleaning services, a full range of office relocation services for rapid redeployment, countrywide support, and many more functions.
A faster, more secure chain of custody equates to greater efficiency as information flows become smoother and more reliable. Systems that are customised to a company’s individual requirements limit time spend in retraining staff, while information equity (for both hard and soft copies) across all geographic locations ensures all facilities can function at full effectiveness.
In addition, solutions that integrate a wide range of services allow manufacturers enjoy reduced costs for those services overall. Providers of these consolidated systems will often provide attractive quotes to businesses looking to engage a number of different services. The silent benefit of this is that coordination between those services is also entirely managed by the information management firm — meaning, for example, that an office relocation project would not need to be organised separately from, say, the archiving of physical documents and installation of a digital system in the new premises.