Project Management: The Groundhog Greets Everyday

Some things do not change. For example, the cycle of the seasons or the fluctuation of ebb and flood are fairly constant affairs. Some things, however could well change. It would even be desirable if they did. Only: You don’t do it. If you look at the current success rate in project management determined by the Project Management Institute (PMI), it can remind you of the Hollywood film mentioned in the title.

 

More than every third project fails

Just as Bill Murray experienced the same day over and over again in the film “Groundhog Day”, PMI has been bringing the same customers for years. In January 2015, its survey of 2500 IT project managers resulted – once again – in the number 64. A number that is set in stone. Even in previous years there was always 64 percent of all projects in the world that led to the desired success. Thus, more than one-third of all projects fail.

 

Corporate culture is missing

In particular, the study continually blames the stalemate on the absence of project success promoting enterprise culture. Successful companies attach importance to fostering talent and the right way of thinking. Another point: There is a lack of transparency, knowledge is not shared, information is not available to all project participants. According to PMI, institutionalised knowledge management is in demand.

 

Yes there is no DMS?

It would be interesting to make a follow-up study: Which of the companies surveyed actually have IT tools that efficiently organise knowledge and information and provide for everything? Tools that allow cooperation even across borders and time zones? Of course, nobody asks. But that’s not really bad either. That document management systems and automated workflows can be a powerful tool to place project participants in a position to concentrate on the essentials and achieve their goals more quickly and efficiently, and to document what has been achieved, is ultimately just as sure as ebb followed by flood. The groundhog says hello!

Europe soon paperless?

“Europe without paper?” The online edition of the Huffington Post recently asked this question and gave some examples that prove: Europe will never make it without paper, simply because the use of raw materials belongs to our cultural heritage. Less paper? Yes, that could be something.

 

Europe-wide digitising initiatives

The article delivers heaps of evidence. For example in Germany, where administrative and branch initiatives, such as “Digital Government 2020,” the electronic invoice, “Digital Agenda” and development of the e-government approach, are among the driving forces.

 

The Post also cites Great Britain, where the health and judicial system will be digitised by 2018, and Poland, which wants to cross the finish line already in 2017 with similar projects. According to the article, France is introducing the pharmaceutical act “Dossier Pharmaceutique” and at the same time is pushing the initiative “France Numérique 2012” to digitise the administration. And Italy – with remarkable resources – is pressing ahead with e-invoicing, which was reported here in the EASY Blog earlier this year.

 

Tempo, Tempo, Tempo

Presumably, several such examples could be found if one were to look more closely at individual European countries. This is hardly surprising; after all, the technological prerequisites have long been available on the software side, even though the hardware side – keyword infrastructure development – still has some way to go almost everywhere in Europe. Accordingly, the EU is active in the field.

 

Irony of history: to a large extent, administrative departments are trying to eliminate paper. Paper – according to common consensus – was invented by a Chinese official. Around 105 A.D. Cai Lun described the basic production process that still exists today. He was active, for the sake of completeness, in the department of instruments and weapons production at the Chinese imperial court.

 

Europe very capable of acting

But apart from this historical side note, it can be stated that in times when the theme of Europe is temporarily reduced to the intensified crisis in Greece, it is good to reiterate for a change: Europe doesn’t just regulate the curvature of cucumbers. It also deals with sensible subjects and is advancing the economy and society. This is encouraging for the future.

Sense or nonsense? ECM meets virtual reality

The combination of virtual reality and enterprise content management is currently being tested at the University of Bielefeld. The goal is to optimise information management in companies as well as to better link physically existing and digital documents with information media.

 

First use cases tested

The first application scenarios are said to be quite close to the market maturity, practicality is making progress, as well as project contributors. For example, it is conceivable to display virtual information about a physical document, while it is being worked on. This is plausible, because hardware continues to develop extremely rapidly.

 

With “goggles” in the workplace?

Granted: it is doubtful that virtual reality glasses will soon belong to every physical ECM workplace – and might not really be desirable for purely aesthetic reasons. Who would like to work with high-tech goggles crammed on his nose?

 

Simulation until you get dizzy

Did you know that some manufacturers of virtual reality glasses “install” an artificial nose into the viewing area in order to counteract the dizziness that occurs in some simulations or virtual environments? Just a side note, but either way it will take a long time until one whisks Tom Cruise in “Minority Report” or Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man” onto the digital projection screen through virtual documents and objects. That is – as opposed to diving goggle optics – a much cooler idea.

 

Beam me up, EASY!

Especially since there are a lot of ergonomic issues and aspects of workplace health to clarify before virtual reality goggles are used. In this respect, in several years one might find the good old reading glasses in workplaces still much more common than virtual reality goggles. Would that be bad? No, enterprise content management will still get along quite well without virtual reality. But to dream a bit of Hollywood, of a bit more glamour in the workplace, is not forbidden. On that note: Beam me up, EASY!

Small and Medium-Sized Company IT: There Is Plenty to Do!

A recent study has taken a carefully considered look at small and medium-sized companies in France, Germany and the UK and found: Decision-makers worry whether their current IT can keep pace with the development of market and legislative requirements. This leads to the conclusion: IT needs to be simple and less complex. That’s the order of the day!

 

Many challenges at once

Respondents were among other things pessimistic whether their IT infrastructure is able to cope with the rapid development of cloud technologies, integration of mobile devices and in particular growing volumes of data and compliance requirements. With this finding, the IT industry’s ears should be ringing – because, take note: The questions were not asked of just anyone, but respondents were IT managers and professionals in companies with 25 to 5,000 employees. Thus, people who know their IT environment precisely and the tasks that lie ahead for them.

 

Less complexity, more speed, please!

The trend is developing in the direction of data-driven, fast-changing business processes. Although we have known this for some time, we still cannot overemphasize it: Agile IT models and flexible structures are in demand. It is necessary to purge IT environments, better tune individual processes and IT components and at the same time disentangle them in order to shorten development as well as roll-out times.

 

Co-design now

Of course, the survey also points to something good: It shows there is a huge market for investments in a more agile IT and IT applications that meet the requirements of modern businesses. That are simple and really scalable. That promise faster time-to-market and simplified implementation processes. Where collaboration and compliance remains not only a marketing phrase.

Especially in terms of compliance, the pressure to act under which IT managers suffer, is revealed very clearly. 63 percent of respondents believe they cannot meet future compliance requirements with their current systems. This is a significant operational risk. Investments in IT are necessary. Anything else would be a game va banque, which companies cannot afford.

Contract management: Up to 41 percent savings through greater efficiency

For many years, the term cost reduction has been part of IT managers’ basic vocabulary. Indeed, companies today have much higher financial pressures as a result of globalised markets than a few years ago. All the more remarkable that contract optimisation is still often neglected by many companies.

 

Typical cell phone bill…

You probably also know: Actually, you find your monthly cell phone bill too expensive – but somehow you miss getting the right appointment to shift to a new provider or a different tariff. You have already been stuck in your current tariff for at least twelve months .

 

Considerable savings potential through workflows

Now that may be all right in private, but a medium-sized company that provides its employees mobile phones and/or other mobile devices already loses substantial savings through lax handling of deadlines. Experts from PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate that effective contract management can reduce global operating costs by two percent. In contract management alone, 41 percent of savings would come from greater efficiency thanks to automated workflows.

 

The famous small livestock …

It may be a truism, but “even small livestock make manure”. Particularly as similar potentials are hidden in many other fixed-term contracts. From leased company cars to furniture, leased plants, contracts for regular services to the supply of electricity and gas, in any case a field that doesn’t really impel Germans to dynamic change propensity.

 

“Too much to do” is not applicable any more

Whoever has been talking their way out of tight deadlines and making excuses for little time or even the abundance of contracts, is in for some bad news. For digital contract management ensures that no deadline is missed and when in doubt, can be renegotiated for more favourable conditions early on. The good thing is that in this way, realised savings are not at the expense of the employees and motivation in the company. And if it is really necessary to drastically save some time, it is at least clear that one has already exhausted all other sources. That alone is already reason enough to implement a corresponding solution

Customer expectations: When IT has to keep pace…

Sometimes our daily life seems a little schizophrenic. We can get upset when the waiter in the restaurant passes our table for the third time. By contrast, we can accept the supermarket queue stoically, but that same evening fret that we have not yet received a reply to our e-mail inquiry to a company. To what we react with an adrenaline rush, just depends on the situation and our expectations. What does that have to do with an ECM? A whole lot!

 

Always on…

When someone wrote an e-mail to a company in 2009, he was usually relatively patient. Experts estimated a time period of around five days that one allowed the addressee for an answer without risking loss of image.

 

That has duly changed with the advent of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter & Co. The customer is always online and expects the same from the company. To his quickly composed message he wants to get an equally brisk response. A study commissioned by the Allianz insurance company came last year to the conclusion that almost every tenth person now allows only ten minutes for answering simple questions. 41 percent want to hear from the company within one hour. And the remainder within two hours.

 

Always faster? Only with automation

Ten Minutes? That is a short coffee break. One Hour? That’s how long many people spend in the canteen. And two hours go by fast for a meeting. The fact is that response times such as these are extremely short. Customer-oriented companies can hardly afford not to secure their e-mail inbox with automated workflows. It must also be ensured that requests are answered promptly even if the co-worker is just not available. And if the clerk has to make a time-consuming search for client files or processes, it’s hopeless.

 

ECM success criteria

Investing in a powerful ECM, in digital business and document processes and Archive is becoming a key success criterion for companies with direct customer contact and thereby in direct competition for consumers’ favour. Especially when it can be assumed that due to the world’s increasing networking the approved response time will get shorter yet. Then blessed is the one who can rely on automated structures.

Holiday time! And who takes the helm?

The big holidays have arrived – and with them the time of absence messages. In no other period of the year does one obtain seemly often the well-meaning note that the original addressee is away and in his place another colleague is taking care of the requests. For this, the work really starts.

 

Holiday representation? The colleague is doing it!

The keywords are transfer and knowledge management. It would be desirable if one colleague could stand in for the other at any time. If, in a few seconds, he could provide information on all operations, including received requests. If he could process customer inquiries so that the concern is not only answered quickly, but ideally the customer is satisfied.

However, the ideal is often far removed from reality. Thus, the answer probably is: “Can you call back in two weeks?” Or “I cannot find the transaction.” Another conceivable answer is: “But this can take a while.”

 

Employees under permanent stress

What is likely to cause customer frustration also leads to negative consequences for employees. Because colleagues often are already adequately occupied with their own duties. Add to this the work of the employee who currently stretches out in the sun, and it quickly leads to the feeling of overwork and excessive demands.

Especially when it suddenly and unexpectedly comes to really important things, such as to contractual matters, invoices or delivery times. Because in such cases, a delay can quickly result in financial consequences. Thus, it often happens that the fever pitch rises for the “colleagues back home” and it is hectic in the hallways when for example searching for the final version of a document or another file.

 

Too bad about the nice time

All that is then literally wasted time. Not to speak of all the excitement. And it is all the more deplorable when it could be produced easily with maximum transparency using central ECM. Always able to provide information. So much so that only employees with appropriate authorisation can have a look at the relevant documents.

 

and superfluous as a goiter

Quintessentially, it could be so simple. Maybe the summer holidays are a good opportunity to familiarise oneself with the possibilities of an ECM. Because it keeps the company manoeuvrable – especially during the holiday season.

Electronic invoices: Rather go on the safe side

Whoever shops at large online retailers, receives – similar to many other sellers – increasingly an electronic invoice. Even among industrial suppliers and producers, the use of electronic invoicing rises – because the formula is simple: use = benefits. However, one must do his homework when archiving – print and file is not enough (anymore).

 

Check, check, check …

On the one hand it is necessary to examine the bill: Is its authenticity guaranteed? Does it comply with the formal requirements for an invoice? Clear, this step is not substantially different from the previous practice on paper. But for the purpose of better readability, many employees print out the electronic invoices for checking – and thus cause expenses.

 

Archiving – the right way

The biggest uncertainty is archiving. This is because many places still don’t know how to archive correctly. For anyone who thinks that printing and filing the bill is sufficient it could end up to be expensive during a tax audit. This is because the invoice recipient is obliged to keep the original file readable for a period of ten years. Whereby “readable” means: He must also keep and operate the programs that are necessary for presenting those files for this time. Not only that, he must document the process that the bill has gone through in its digital processing, storage and archiving and keep the relevant information together with the invoice.

 

E-invoicing solution helps

If you are now wondering how to accomplish all this, how you get safe ground under your feet, the answer does not lie in the absence of electronic invoices. Especially considered realistically, it is also little pragmatic. The solution is rather: Make an electronic invoice. For such a solution largely automates the activities mentioned and produces legal certainty. From examining the legal requirements, such as from the tax number on the invoice, etc. to the legally compliant archiving of e-mail and all required documentation. Along the way, you make your business more profitable and efficient. Three “flies” with one swatter – could you really want more?

Paperless Office: From Dream to Reality

New figures suggest that the electronic invoice is on the rise. 35 percent of creditors and 40 percent of debtors prefer the digital version to good old paper. Furthermore, the delivery of electronic invoices will increase. Is e-invoicing self-perpetuating? Hardly. There is rather a need for action.

 

More electronic invoices expected

In February and March the research institute IbiRresearch at the University of Regensburg conducted a survey – among others, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy – of more than 350 companies. The results confirm the positive development described and forecast further growth. Companies want to draw closer to the paperless office. Yet only one in four invoices reaches its recipient electronically. Nevertheless, 39 percent of all billers want to make more use of digital billing. Certainly, none of the respondents want to reduce the number.

 

Paperless still remains a dream

Nevertheless, regardless of simplified “principles for the due maintenance and preservation of books, records and documents in electronic form as well as data access” (GoBD), the paperless office is still far off. To be sure, many companies see potential for efficiency. Yet almost seven out of ten companies print electronic invoices and file them by hand.

 

Adjustment processes deter

There are several reasons, but the most important reason why only 26 percent of all companies surveyed process the digital incoming invoice with a digital input billing workflow may be that Decision-makers shy away from the need to adapt. Finally, it is important to define processes and to create the technical conditions for e-invoicing.

Also expertise is lacking: Only 48 percent of the companies asked rate their legal knowledge as “comprehensive.” Nearly one-tenth believe their own electronic archive deserves only the grade of 5 or 6 in compliance matters.

 

Enlighten, enlighten, enlighten…

Ignorance is the greatest enemy of all innovation and everything new. However, what’s good is that education and information help overcome ignorance. This applies more than ever to refute reservations and show that it’s all easier than you thought. Then nothing can stand in the way of the e-Invoice.

E-invoicing: Italy distributes gifts

Paper invoices are passé – at least in Italy, provided they are going to the public administration. Since over the past few weeks, all domestic suppliers and service providers must send their invoices to the public sector electronically. Thus, after France and Austria, Italy is further country that is following the path of the obligatory electronic invoice.

The fourth largest economy in Europe is thereby implementing EU Directive 2010/45/EU. And it is prematurely exceeding the finish line, because EU Directive 2014/55/​​EU actually specifies that the administration of member states have until 2018 to switch to e-invoicing. Italy expects in return a significant financial and personal relief for administration.

 

Relief for the private sector

However, all of this does not apply to business transactions between companies or to business transactions amongst companies with consumers. Here the EU does not permit any mandatory state requirements. Nevertheless, in order to push ahead the use of electronic billing, the state is offering incentives.

Italy lures whoever will change to digital invoicing in the future by, among other things, facilitating accounting rules – with exemption from the “Spesometro” notification obligation, for example. It usually requires electronic reporting of all VAT-relevant transactions. Even businesses with customers who live in tax “risk countries” no longer need to be reported. Last but not least, Italy promises a quicker VAT refund.

 

Creative – but effective?

From a German perspective that seems a little odd. In this country it is in principle rather a matter of voluntary commitments. Yet maybe one can indeed learn from Italy. That is, if the country is successful with these measures. Speaking of learning from the example, last year, Portugal held a lottery for taxpayers, and transformed each submitted invoice with a tax number into a lottery ticket for the weekly prize draw. The prize: a luxury car.