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SharePoint paperless office

7 Ways to Become a Paperless Office with SharePoint

The paper office is not efficient. By creating redundant layers of content management confusion, the paper office slows down all business processes that require some form of content to operate. However, most organizations still employ a workflow that goes something like: stare at a digital document dump, take multiple trips to the copier/scanner, upload files into folders, create multiple layers of subfolders, and try to create a content hierarchy that makes sense to shareholders, decision makers, and employees. That’s not a paperless process, but it sure is a wasteful one. SharePoint enables offices to truly go paperless by automating content management tasks in seconds.

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How to Cure the Top 5 SharePoint Management Headaches

Here are 5 of the most common SharePoint management headaches and what you can do to put an end to them forever.

1. SharePoint Management and Updates 

Patching SharePoint may appear simple at first glance, but once you begin to understand that SharePoint updates come in variety of forms, the process begins to take on some complexity.  When do you install Public Updates?  Should you install Cumulative Updates or Service Packs?  Is there an order or priority for installing the updates?  What about patching the Windows Server and SQL Server?  And, if your organization has a multi-server farm, you’ll have to do all this on each server while minimizing downtime on your farm.

2. SharePoint Management and Your Server Topology

When it comes to improving the speed of your business processes and reducing (or even eliminating) manual content management, a customized SharePoint solution can be your best friend. However, maintaining SharePoint solutions across your servers can be downright frustrating. IT departments have to plan for different tiered server topologies and how business priorities fit into server roles. Managing this process increases in complexity the more customized your SharePoint architecture becomes.

3. Managing the SharePoint Storage Environment

Since SharePoint relies on SQL Server for content storage, poor performance and user dissatisfaction can often be caused by what’s happening at the storage level. Without a deep understanding of how SharePoint is structured, its functional limitations and boundaries, many IT departments can spend costly time troubleshooting their networking infrastructure or some portion of their existing SharePoint configuration without realizing it could be a problem with the data storage system or information architecture.  Without watchful eyes monitoring the health of the SQL environment and the size of the most popular sites and libraries, the potential amount of data stored on an underpowered SQL database can induce a major SharePoint headache.

4. Managing the SharePoint Service Accounts and Administrative Privileges

Managing and deploying service accounts is a tedious but necessary step in enterprise workflow and security. Deciding which users get administrative and design access and which users operate under what level of security can make or break your data safety protocols. Though SharePoint puts an emphasis on data security and distributed administration, how you keep your assets safe while expecting to scale up and down as needed can cause gaps in account policies. Between user error, third party add-ins, SharePoint updates, there is a constant need to monitor how the technical components of SharePoint challenge and complement your organizational culture.

5. SharePoint Management for Leveraging Back-End Analytics

Monitoring the health of a deployed SharePoint solution begins with monitoring SharePoint usage. SharePoint provides analytics on users, storage, operational health and web page popularity. Structuring these insights in a way that answers operations related questions can be challenging. The challenge compounds when you realize that you may need more detailed insights and need to search for a third-party analytics solution or add-in.

The Cure to Your SharePoint Management Headaches

With SharePoint Solution support from General Networks, you can focus on using and expanding SharePoint to meet your business goals. SharePoint Solution support works with your IT department to:

  • Monitor the overall health of your SharePoint server environment via health alerts, outstanding SharePoint updates, usage and storage metrics
  • Quickly resolve SharePoint server issues and assess underlying problems that have caused repeated issues and outages
  • Provide monthly KPI reporting of metrics, issues and problems
  • Support your organization through routine upgrades and administrative updates
  • Provide support and answers to escalated user inquiries

Instead of trying to figure out how to make SharePoint work, you can spend your resources enabling SharePoint to work for you.

Our SharePoint Solution support can elevate SharePoint to a finely tuned and key business asset. Contact us to transform your SharePoint experience.

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Seamlessly Integrate DocuSign Electronic Signatures into ServiceNow Workflows with eSignifi

esignifi - Integrate DocuSign Electronic Signatures into ServiceNow Workflows

eSignifi, recently launched by General Networks, is an app that seamlessly integrates DocuSign with the ServiceNow platform. Prior to eSignifi, users had to leave the ServiceNow platform to take full advantage of DocuSign. Now, users across multiple business units can combine ServiceNow’s automation, streamlining, and structuring power with DocuSign’s electronic signature capabilities. Continue reading…

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7 Considerations for Making a SharePoint Business Case

SharePoint is a powerful content management system that can be customized and leveraged to meet all your sharing, collaboration, document management, and business workflow needs. However, most organizations simply don’t use SharePoint to its fullest capabilities. And if you’re not maximizing the value of your SharePoint license it can be difficult to make the right business case.

Here’s 7 things to consider when creating a business case for a SharePoint deployment:

1. Cloud, On-Premises, or Hybrid Installation 

SharePoint can be deployed on-premises, through the cloud with Office 365, or a hybrid of both. Each option comes with benefits that could propel your document management workflow to the next level and help you create a specific SharePoint business case.

An on-premises installation requires significant IT resources to monitor, maintain, and update your SharePoint server environment, but allows for unlimited customization and integration with other business and back-end systems.

A cloud installation can be seen as the more agile and flexible installation choice with a minimal upfront investment. If you’re paying for an Office 365 Enterprise license, you already have the power of SharePoint at your disposal. You’ll be using Microsoft’s robust data centers as opposed to your own physical server farm to manage your data and content.

If you’re looking for a cross between on-premises and cloud, Microsoft offers a hybrid cloud installation. This is something to consider if you need the enhanced security and compliance an on-premises installation offers but also want the flexibility, scalability, and mobility offered by the cloud.  Hybrid can also offer a path to the cloud without a costly migration effort.

2. Eliminating EFSS System Redundancy

If you’re paying for an Office 365 Enterprise license and still using other enterprise file synchronization and sharing systems, it’s likely that you’re losing productivity and money. When properly configured, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business can:

  • Manage libraries of shared documents
  • Allow for parallel user document editing and collaboration between authors
  • Enable users to create and share web sites, documents, media assets, lists and wikis within your organization and externally with partners, vendors and customers
  • Institute a system for document version control and content publishing
  • Develop and distribute site wide news feeds
  • Offer customized solutions with add-ins through the Office Store or developer APIs

SharePoint will give you exactly what you want from a document management system.  One SharePoint license eliminates the need for multiple EFSS applications.

3. SharePoint as a File Server

SharePoint also gets rid of another headache: file shares. Your SharePoint license lets you say goodbye to mapping folders, subfolders, and sub-sub folders across different drives. You can migrate your existing folder based content hierarchy into OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Team sites with the appropriate permissions so you can easily find your content and develop dedicated libraries and groups to share with user communities.

4. Building a SharePoint Business Case with Easy Office Integration

SharePoint naturally aligns with Office 365 applications. The data and content you generate through Office apps can seamlessly bind to your configured SharePoint system settings. Not only do you have all of your documents in one spot, you also have the tools to edit them in the same portal. This aggregation allows for the creation of new business processes and productive project workflows.

5. Maintenance and Auditing

SharePoint gives site owners access to a robust audit logs and compliance tools. The audit log clearly states how all documents, libraries, and content groups are managed, accessed and edited across all SharePoint users. This provides business managers with a top-level view of organization wide version control. SharePoint helps organizations stay transparent, secure, and compliant by creating a clear path of data augmentation and usage.

6. Segmented Document Searching

SharePoint understands the value of version control. Sometimes you need an unedited first version of a document to make sure the newest version aligns to a business vision. With SharePoint, you can search and retrieve documents by version. Even better, you can assign metadata to documents that clearly define their role, purpose, and level of data sensitivity. The SharePoint business case strengthens once you begin to realize just how much time you’ll save by speeding up your data search and retrieval process.

7. The SharePoint Business Case for Your Mobile Workforce 

If you opt for a cloud or hybrid cloud installation of SharePoint, you can give your employees an on-premises functional work experience wherever they may be. Office 365 web apps work wherever there is an internet connection. For workers with dedicated devices, Office 365 applications can be downloaded on multiple devices on the same license. Cloud and hybrid-cloud options greatly reduce (or eliminate) the need for VPNs. And as a workforce changes in size, you simply add or reduce licenses. Mobile application scalability lets remote workers externally share content while giving them the tools they need to access and edit documents on the go.


Your SharePoint Business Case

If you have an out-of-the-box SharePoint solution already deployed, or are considering deploying SharePoint, General Networks can help you extract the most value from your SharePoint license. We can create a customized business case and deployment plan for your needs and goals and work with you in deploying SharePoint as your one-stop content management asset.

Contact us today to get SharePoint working towards your business priorities.

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How to Choose the Right Digital Quality Management System (QMS)

Choosing the right digital quality management system means matching your needs with product features. Some vendors offer systems that have multiple, robust features, while other vendors offer a simplified digital QMS product. The QMS system you purchase largely depends on your organization’s current processes and anticipated future strategic objectives.

Making the best investment for your organization is a two-step process.

  1. Addressing if your QMS requires adherence to any standards.
  2. Identifying key features that are necessary for your company.

QMS Industry Standards

Most organizations require adherence to some industry standards. For example, the new ISO 9001:2015 standards include Risk Management, Integrated Expectations, and Voice of the Customer. These new standards involve a variety of technical and human capital considerations, ranging from the development of an audit trail to greater process integration with their clients and employees.

When exploring QMS solutions, it’s important to know if your vendor can provide you with feature functionalities necessary to be compliant with industry standards. Also, if you anticipate that adherence to new standards will systematically change critical business processes, check to see if the QMS can be customized to respond to these changes.

Aligning Your QMS Needs with Product Features

After addressing adherence to quality standards, you can start building the features you know you need now and the ones you may need later.

Critical features will typically include:

  • Business Process Management – Official documents including order processing, production planning, and policies.
  • Risk Management – A matrix that offers information related to the probability and severity of risks.
  • QMS Oversight Reporting – Dashboards that run in the background and grant you access to automatic reporting so you can monitor goals, trends, and issues.
  • Audit Features – Full control over the auditing management process, including content auditing, scheduling, and results.
  • Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPA) – Formal documentation of how a non-conformance was resolved with automated workflows to approve and document resolution.
  • KPIs – The ability to set key performance indicators that allow your organization to measure the steps necessary to stay on task to complete performance goals.

One of the challenges faced when moving to a new quality management system is cutting redundancy. Perhaps you”re already using software that addresses some of your required critical features. As you survey the digital QMS product landscape, you may notice that few vendors offer everything you need. Having a QMS functional requirement checklist will ensure you acquire the solution you need along with any additional inputs outside of the vendor offering.

Download our eBook on selecting the right QMS to learn more about the new industry standards and the key product features you should consider when investing in a digital quality management system.

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3 Ways a Digital QMS Can Boost Your ROI

Moving from a manual to a digital QMS is no easy decision. After explaining to upper-level management the benefits of a digital QMS, you will be asked the inevitable question: “What is our ROI?”

Since the move from a manual QMS to a digital QMS is a considerable investment in time and resources, you’ll need to be able to show how a digital system cuts costs, improves efficiency and saves time.
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3 Key Questions to Help Determine if You’re Ready to Adopt a Digital Quality Management System

Thinking about adopting a Digital Quality Management System?

Choosing the right digital quality management system for your organization begins with figuring out if you’re ready to adopt a new solution. Not all digital QM systems are created equal. Some only deal with specific problems while others offer a broad range of solutions. Depending on the size and scope of our business, some systems will be a better fit than others. Continue reading…

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General Networks is Now an M-Files Authorized Service Provider

General Networks Named M-Files Authorized Service Provider

As more and more organizations turn to M-Files’ technologies to support their enterprise content management initiatives, they need a partner to help them architect and optimize the solution for their own unique environment. As a M-Files Authorized Service Partner, General Networks serves as an extension of your professional services organization to expand and accelerate your ability to implement and integrate the M-Files’ solution. 

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ON-DEMAND WEBINAR | Quality Management Best Practices: Moving Beyond Excel Spreadsheets

Building the Case for Going Digital with BPA Solutions’ Quality Management Software

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Quality management is a cornerstone for many organizations…

Often, it is driven by compliance requirements such as ISO 9001:2015, but is increasingly being recognized as integral to business plans that drive toward excellence, safety and customer satisfaction.
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