With the introduction of M-Files in the organisation has financial services provider de Jong & Laan made a big step forward: in working methods, in applied technology and, above all, in quality of information provision for this specific group of knowledge workers. M-Files partner GeONE assisted the company in this transition.
De Jong & Laan is a so-called 'full service' financial services provider: at home in many fields and at home in many market segments. With 25 branches and almost 1,000 employees (and still vacancies and growth ambitions), de Jong & Laan is a serious nationwide player. In order to continue to meet its ambitions, it is necessary to deploy state-of-the-art technology. Not only in the specific field, but certainly also when it comes to managing all that sensitive customer information. As a business analyst, Hetty Teeselink is the link between IT and users. As project leader, she guided de Jong & Laan to the next level in effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and compliancy.
As a financial service provider, we operate in many market segments: construction, hospitality, agriculture, industry, recreation, transport and healthcare. Each and every one of these markets requires specific knowledge and expertise from our employees. That also brings many and very diverse issues when it comes to information management and logistics. Of course, we have always gone along with that. De Jong & Laan had been good with digitisation for some time, but there came a time when the document management system we were using no longer matched what we needed and wanted. In particular, the complexity of the information and the integration between the different systems were no longer quite satisfactory.'
Over the years, it is not only the financial services profession that has become more complex. Hetty: 'In our own field, it has mainly become more complex due to the increasing amount of information and the increasing regulatory pressure: this presented us with increasing challenges. All the more so as the old document management system could no longer fully meet the needs we had as an organisation.'
Cooperation and compliancy
In a large organisation like de Jong & Laan, cooperation is important. Hetty: 'Based on what you do and what information you need, you need to be able to access certain documents or other information in client files to do your job properly. On the other hand, we have to comply with laws and regulations at all times: so someone who is not authorised to see or edit certain information must - demonstrably - not be able to do so. That rights structure within (the use of) customer information is crucial for us. Add to this the increasing specialisation in our profession, increasing digitalisation and a great need for information exchange between cooperating colleagues, and you get the idea that there really is a big challenge for an organisation that also operates across 25 branches throughout the country.'
Spicy wish list
Finding that one system needs replacing is one thing, but then selecting and implementing a new system is quite another. 'We needed a document management system that would give us ease and speed in searching information collections, with a clearly laid out rights structure. It had to support the complete life cycle of documents (from creation to destruction with associated process monitoring). Naturally, it had to meet all legal and regulatory requirements. Additional requirements were that it had to include state-of-the-art technology, i.e. future-proof, and be able to integrate with Microsoft on all fronts. Of course, we also did not want a new system to force us to change our way of working completely. In short, quite a spicy wish list...'
Single point of truth
In a nutshell, what the system would have to meet was that it would constitute 'one single point of truth' for the whole organisation when it came to information management. Hetty: 'No duplication of storage, no errors, properly searchable, quickly findable, and store the information as it is: that is, if it is unstructured information, store it as it is.'
M-Files soon surfaced. After asking the market, it turned out that many suppliers were still building on relatively old technology. The links we requested to the CRM system, for instance, were also an obstacle for a number of products. Not so for M-Files,' says Hetty, looking back on the selection process. 'So yes, it was a difficult process beforehand, but the choice was not so difficult in the end. M-Files could offer us everything we had asked for and partner GeONE guaranteed a correct and smooth implementation.' The latter was perhaps the final push. A good discussion partner who takes you seriously, understands the business and knows the product to be implemented inside out and can adapt it to the client's needs if required. That does appeal to Jong & Laan.
Taking existing information with you
For de Jong & Laan, the CRM is pretty much 'the daily entrance to work'. From there, processes start up and information is generated and controlled. 'At least, the information is now transferred to M-Files via intelligent workflows and managed there. Staff can access customer files managed in M-Files from the CRM and the associated rights structure. The customer is the entry point to all relevant information. We used to be more branch-oriented, but that is no longer necessary. The intelligence of the M-Files platform ensures that for a given employee that information - provided he has the right rights - is always approachable: safe, trusted and reliable.'
All existing information from the old system was also converted to M-Files. 'At least that information we still needed to keep. This moment was also a good opportunity to clean up those 15-year-old files.
Uniform working method
After the successful test phase with user groups of people from the various branches, the final step could be taken. The introduction of M-Files as an information backbone meant that all 800 or so employees can now use available information in the organisation in a uniform way. Hetty: 'That makes it clear, manageable and very workable for us. Our people can now work (together) quickly and easily per discipline, always with the most up-to-date and correct information. New information is transferred directly from the CRM to M-Files via specially designed, automated work processes, where it is stored and made findable using special metadata technology. Of course it took some getting used to the fact that there were no longer any 'own' folders, but the effectiveness of M-Files meant that the 'suffering' was soon over.
Choice of GeONE
The choice of GeONE as implementation partner was prompted by the expertise available there. Hetty: 'It was clear from the outset that GeONE's people crawled through the M-Files software; they knew exactly what was possible and where any adjustments could be made, specifically for our situation. They thought along and were a knowledgeable and pleasant interlocutor who communicated well about what they were doing. Moreover, they were in the Netherlands, so basically always close by.'
The next step is further implementation of the digital signing process, in which M-Files will also play a central role. 'That will make it even better for our employees to be able to do their work independent of time and place and still remain fully compliant,' Hetty indicates. 'Then a signed version of a document or file will be immediately available, as well as the previous versions belonging to it and indicating how it was created. How transparent do you want it to be...?'