EASY TechTalk and its results: New idea sheets in Support

As of today, the corridor on the 3rd floor of our HQ building in Mülheim, Germany, displays new idea sheets. How did this come about? On February 17, 2016 a “world café” on the topic of “Support of the future” took place as part of our TechTalk conference. We, that is, Chris Kierspel and I, would never have thought, prior to that conference, on what we were going to let ourselves in for and what benefit we could get out of it. This was, above all, due to our lack of experience, of course; however we were unsure in how far open communication might be established.

The “World Café” supplied ideas

What, then, is a “world café”? For 20 minutes, respectively, alternating groups of people shared a long table with idea sheets where each individual was able to express their ideas and pin them on to a wallpaper sheet. So what was it like from our viewpoint? I’m still impressed by the responses, the openness, and productive suggestions. There were also key topics, which were on everyone’s mind, evolving out of the four different groups.

Actual optimization suggestions

I’d like to briefly discuss an item that was at the very top of the list: It transpired that the desire for a portal is a unanimous desire of all participating partners. On the one hand, this is because they want to have increased transparency with the tickets, to be able to better view the status of a ticket and, on the other hand, to enable a more qualified task and thus turning your back to the e-mail media and avoid the ping-pong effect associated with it. Ideas were also developed such that a list of questions, depending on the product, be shown when entering a ticket or that suggested solutions from the knowledge database or from a “Known bugs” database be shown. This means at best that you do not have to create a ticket because one of the suggestions has already been helpful. The portal solution may also include a chat function to make paths even shorter.

Facing solutions every day

Some of this had surely already been our focus; however, open discussion also showed that we had taken some aspects too little into consideration in our previous internal view. So this gave us the opportunity to better adjust our portal to our partners’ needs.

To be able to better transport the contents to our Support colleagues, we have hung the idea sheets on the walls of our corridor (see photograph) to enable everyone to read these raw impressions unfiltered. This will, of course, also trigger an internal departmental discussion, because some of the items require explanation.

All lights on green – EASY Microsoft Solutions positioned shipshape for the future

On February 17th and 18th the first EASY TECH TALK in 2016 took place in the elegant interior of the Stadthalle in Mülheim. Other than EASY WORLD, which is the annual Get-together for everybody who is to any extent involved into the world of EASY (e.g. partner executives, customer decision-makers and so on) the TECH TALK is a format especially targeted at EASY consultants, who gather in Mülheim twice a year seeking knowledge about the latest product releases and the technical roadmap of things to come.

On day two I had the honor to give my state-of-the-union speech and present the current status of my spawn, the EASY Microsoft Solutions. And a state that is – all current EASY Microsoft solutions had major releases within in the last two months and hence are in a very up-to-date shape, both regarding the technical platforms the products currently run on and are tested for and on the other hand also regarding their respective feature sets. They widely leverage the latest and greatest capabilities the base Microsoft products we integrate into provide, and also pay due respect to important change requests which are constantly signaled from the “front”, i.e. our EASY consulting and support colleagues and of course our partners and customers.

The full story is covered in the presentation which is available for download by now, but let me just pick out one or two main points of each EASY Microsoft Solutions portfolio member:

EASY for Dynamics NAV –available for Dynamics NAV 2016 according to our statement of direction only three months after general availability of the base product Dynamics NAV 2016, presentable in a NAV-enabled ESP-Demo VM (you know about the ESP-Demo, do you ?).

EASY for Dynamics AX – the drop zone has arrived in the product, enabling faster and more convenient adding of archived attachments to AX records. Feedback from large projects greatly improved the volume handling of documents. And the whole interface now runs in AX 2009, AX 2012 R2 and R3, covering around 90% of the installed AX customer base in DACH.

EASY for Exchange – more than 350 improvements have found their way into the latest release E4E 1.1, making it a great product again. We support Exchange and Outlook 2016, have included the support for all versions of Outlook Web Access and deliver a mobile server to allow road warriors to access their archived and reference e-mails on their smartphone.

EASY for SharePoint – some call it my pet product, but I just love SharePoint and every solution that supports and enhances it, just like the latest Release 5.1 of EASY for SharePoint does! EASY archives  are now fully searchable in the global SharePoint Search (via OData/BCS), EASY archives are presentable as document libraries and custom lists (BCS web parts) and we use standard icons for documents archived and referenced in SharePoint, what may seem like a small feature, but greatly improves adoptability and usability. The user can view and edit every document in SharePoint by a single click, regardless if it is still residing in the SharePoint database or if it is archived and referenced (and so taking load of the SharePoint content database). The product fully supports SharePoint Online from the Microsoft Office 365 plans, which enables customers to gain processual and regulatory compliance, leaving the immutable storage and versioning of documents and information to EASY as a specialized provider of revision-proof, long-term archive storage, while still being able to thoroughly utilize and work with tax-relevant documents and business-critical information on the Share-Point platform (on premise und online). Does my enthusiasm for the product shine through? You bet.

EASY for Dynamics AX Invoice – the only product whose latest release, Invoice Option Level 3, is still due, but will be fulfilled by the 31st of March 2016. Level 3 will allow for much more complex approval scenarios as it allows splitting of item lines in the workflow and assigning cost centers plus five other dimensions to each item line. All changes to the invoice header and lines throughout the approval workflow are instantly transferred to the EASY AX Invoice ledger, enabling AP people to monitor the approval status of each invoice in real time and taking action, if this is required by the current state of the invoice approval workflow. The default approval workflow template is now initially two-staged, still allowing the customer to change this and leverage the power of the Nintex engine by e.g. starting as many custom workflows directly from AX as the business process requires.

So much today about my protégés, to get the whole picture I recommend you review the presentation of my slot, and contact me in case a live demo is of interest. As all attendees of my session know by now, I can always do a live demo for you, as long as the WLAN doesn’t let me down – but hey, that’s Murphy on the loose…

The insurance industry: The need for digitization

The insurance industry sees its business prospects in the coming year as even worse than two years ago, according to a survey by Forsa. This isn’t just because it’s becoming more and more difficult to get products to the market. The industry is looking for solutions to meet increasing demands related to compliance.

 

The EU is holding the reins

The new EU broker guidelines IDD und Solvency II, a project of the EU Commission aimed at fundamental reform of insurance regulatory law, is placing the insurance industry under pressure to act. Insurers themselves have already experienced short-term effects of the new requirements, and they’re also beginning to influence broker sales.

 

Whenever compliance management requirements increase, regulatory and documentation regulations become stricter. 86 percent of all insurers, and 77 percent of all brokers told Forsa that they saw these issues as not just one of many challenges on the horizon, but rather the key challenge facing their companies.

 

High level of acceptance for digital processes

The silver lining in this survey was that the industry proved highly open to digitization, placing its hopes in automation and other technologies. Respondents saw optimizing IT as the second most important future task besides compliance. 83 percent of insurers and 77 percent of brokers felt digitizing business processes was important.

 

Recognizing a need for investment

Another positive result for suppliers of automation tools and workflow systems is that insurers plan to make a quarter of their all investments up to 2018 in IT. Even brokers surveyed estimated they would invest 18 percent of resources there, and larger broker firms estimated even higher, at 20 percent.

 

This result is more than welcome – what’s better than a customer who’s recognized he has a problem to solve? Well, one thing: a customer with the budgets to solve that problem. All customers need is the right IT solution, a solution they’ll find at easys.de.

 

TechTalk 2016: EASY ECM Suite “World Café”

The first EASY TECH TALK 2016 conference took place on February 17 through 18, 2016 at Stadthalle (guildhall) Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. Day One of the conference focused on exchange of information between EASY and its partners. A “world café” was the selected format for this purpose. Day Two was full of presentations on all topics of current interest.

 

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Four presentations, each 20 minutes long, enabled Andreas Schneider and me to engage in intensive exchange of information on the strategy of the EASY ECM Suite with our 70 technically minded guests.

We talked about previous implementation of the EASY ECM Suite since EASY WORLD 2014, as well as about where we will be heading with our release version 16.1. We also had an intensive discussion about why EASY selected “one function, one solution” and what effects this will have on partner strategies and upcoming customer projects.

 

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After the first two software versions, we also wanted to define our position as to whether we are on the right track with our EASY ECM Suite: The question of what other requirements consultants have for the next versions also arose. In particular, simplifications for EASY Archive Smart from project planning are very important to developing the product. We presented once again the most important insights of the World Café to all participants. Now all collected requirements will be evaluated and prepared for the agile development process.

 

 A number of advantages

The “world cafés” as the basis for exchanging information with our business partners provides a number of advantages. I think that in this way we can accommodate the requirements and results very fast and transparently into the next few sprints, and implement them.

Many thanks to all participants for such excellent conversations, exchange of information and their impetus for the EASY ECM Suite!

Social Media: New Demands Placed on ECM

More than three quarters of companies in Germany use social media for internal and external communication, according to Bitkom. Consumers love to use Facebook, Twitter, and similar sites to contact companies as well. This state of affairs brings with it completely novel challenges for content management and archiving.

 

The old world was slow…

It used to be that customers picked up the phone, wrote a fax, or sent a letter. That took one thing above all else: time. Since customers didn’t want to sit on hold all day or spend time recording their complaints in writing, they thought twice before bringing up an issue – to make sure it was worth their trouble. Even sending an e-mail, later on, did require a certain amount of effort.

 

…the new world moves in real time

Things are different today. It is even possible to communicate with companies in real time in some cases. Customers can quickly place an inquiry via social media from anywhere and at any time, and do so on a platform that eschews formal communications. The result is that companies are receiving more incoming data than ever before, and inquiries are piling up. This isn’t just a challenge for workers who have to process customer messages. It also creates new demands for Enterprise Content Management (ECM).

 

The ECM must connect to social media for the purposes of research and archiving. This is true first because employees need to be able to find processes quickly here in case of customer feedback. After all: anyone who wants to communicate using our “social media” needs to be able to keep up with its quick tempo – otherwise, companies can expect to suffer damage to their corporate image. Additionally, it is always possible that compliance-relevant information could be lurking in all those reams of data.

 

A variety of risks

The most important risks influencing compliance are the loss of sensitive information, a violation of copyright or telemedia laws, and data protection. The latter risk is especially great when employees leave the company, necessitating a deletion of their information.

 

A modern ECM should help companies manage and trace social media content despite its immense scope. It should ensure companies are prepared to act and provide information. In consequence, this means that Enterprise Content Management Systems and archives that don’t take these requirements to heart – and don’t offer interfaces to social media – won’t be able to maintain their market position for much longer.

EASY Know how included: New GoBD guidelines published

EASY SOFTWARE AG has worked alongside auditing firm Peters, Schönberger, and Partner and consulting company Zöller and Partner to publish new GoBD guidelines. The guidelines were created with the aid of long-time EASY service employee Wolfgang Heinrich.

These guidelines offer a resource to companies working with the “Basic Principles on Orderly Bookkeeping and Accounting, Recording, and Documentation in Electronic Form, and Data Access (GoBD)” from the Federal Ministry of Finance

The dynamic developments happening in digitization today affect tax law as well. More and more companies are switching over to IT supported accounting practices, including electronic archives. These new processes are what sparked the revision of the GoBD guidelines. In order to fulfill the requirements of the GoBD, the newly published guidelines present the changes and illustrate how they are reflected in companies’ IT supported business processes.

EASY for SharePoint 5.1 improves on SharePoint – on premise and online

EASY for SharePoint 5.1 improves on SharePoint – on Premise and online

How can Microsoft SharePoint users benefit from using EASY? It’s a question EASY gets often, and since SharePoint 2007, we’ve had an answer: with our SharePoint expansion EASY for SharePoint. In Version 5.1 of the product, released just a few days ago, EASY for SharePoint provides support for the most current SharePoint versions 2013 and 2016, as well as for SharePoint Online from Microsoft Office 365 plans. Additionally, EASY for SharePoint 5.1 provides a series of new features that make the integration of EASY and SharePoint even more seamless in order to evoke the potential synergies between the two platforms even more simply and efficiently.

 

Cross-system informational links

Essentially, EASY for SharePoint makes it possible for companies that use SharePoint as their primary collaboration platform to access information and documents archived in EASY from processes carried out on SharePoint. This works, for example, for other sources of information such as ERP systems, output management solutions, or personnel and contract management. It allows users to search, view, and display all relevant content archived in EASY on the SharePoint page without switching programs. In this way, EASY for SharePoint makes it possible to generate cross-system informational links and contexts, with SharePoint as the leading application.

 

Integrated search results

The most important improvement in this application with EASY for SharePoint 5.1 is the integration of search results from EASY in the native SharePoint search. If users want to access EASY content, they no longer need to exclusively use the EASY search page in SharePoint. Instead, users can enter their search terms directly in the familiar global search bar in SharePoint. Search results displayed in SharePoint will also include content from EASY, sorted according to relevance.

This makes it possible to access a document archived in EASY directly from the native SharePoint search with just a click. It goes without saying that the registered SharePoint user’s Windows authorizations are observed, and that each user can only display content from SharePoint and the archive for which he or she has access authorization.

SharePoint Beitrag

With EASY for SharePoint 5.1, it’s also possible to display data archived in EASY through “business community services” in the form of a SharePoint document library using the SharePoint web parts “BCS list” and “BCS element.” This allows archive content that did not originate from a SharePoint library or list to be available to users in a familiar library or list form for use in business processes.

 

Automatic archiving possible

Of course, EASY for SharePoint makes it possible to store content from SharePoint (documents from document libraries and attachments to list elements) including metadata (descriptive field values for document library and list entries) in one or more EASY archives in an audit-proof manner. Archiving can occur automatically at regular intervals, in response to specific events (for instance when changed in SharePoint), or manually.

Today, in particular in Office 365, scenarios with SharePoint online allow you to improve regulatory compliance, since tax-related documents and critical company information can be used and processed without restrictions on SharePoint (on premise or online). However, the system leaves audit-proof storage of draft and final documents and file versions to the specialist program in this area, the EASY Archive.

 

Fully transparent

The 5.1 release of EASY for SharePoint strives for full transparency. For example, the original icons of archived documents and file attachments in SharePoint have been retained. Using aspx links facilitates access to archived documents directly from your browser without additional requests. Documents called up from the archive can be edited and, after editing, can be immediately archived as new versions in EASY without additional user intervention.

This is also possible with referencing. Referenced Microsoft Office documents can be edited directly. For other file formats, it is possible to update the stored file with an edited version in SharePoint. Referencing, or the relocation of SharePoint content, also continues to have the positive effect users appreciate on the SharePoint SQL databank.

With its product EASY for SharePoint 5.1, EASY SOFWARE AG is technologically up to date and perfectly poised for the future when it comes to Microsoft SharePoint, both on premise and online. Combined with other ECM solutions from the EASY brand, EASY SOFTWARE AG is living up to demands in the SharePoint environment as a market leader in the ECM industry.

CeBIT 2016: EASY has plenty of new tricks in the bag

This year at CeBIT – which takes place from March 14th – 18th in Hannover – EASY SOFTWARE AG will be sticking to the concept that made the event so successful for us last year. You can find us alongside other companies from a variety of ECM areas in Bitkom Solutions Park, hall 3, exhibition stand B17.

“After good experiences last year during our joint presentation in Bitkom Solutions Park, we’re looking forward to another great exchange of ideas this year as well,” says Peter Rollepatz, head of Brand Strategy for the Mühlheim software manufacturer.

This year, EASY has a veritable bouquet of innovative products and solutions on offer. Besides the new version of the EASY ECM Suite – which includes multiple improvements – exhibition visitors will get exclusive insights into the mobile EASY Online Suite. For the first time, EASY will also have its SAP portfolio of solutions to work with EASY nextPCM products at CeBIT as well.

Digital Personnel Files: Clean Out those Mountains of Paper

Even in 2016, lots of companies are still managing correspondence, work contracts, and certifications for their employees using paper files. Often, documents from countless years stack up in offices and basements. Slowly but steadily, however, digitization is making strides here as well: in personnel management, in particular, a wide portfolio of solutions have been developed based on SAP to efficiently support HR employees in their everyday work – with personnel files front and centre.

 

What is a personnel file?

A digital personnel file provides a place to organize and save all documents for an employee. Frequently, file management systems are directly integrated into company solutions from SAP or IBM. Gone are the days of mountains of files, stapling documents, or unwieldy processes.

 

You can call up all important information on your employees at a glance. You have all the information you need in one centralized location and can access the most current data. HR processes like raises or creating personalized documents can also be triggered directly from the digital file itself. Thanks to innovative document management, you have more time for strategizing success.

 

How secure is a digital personnel file?

One especially important question is the security of sensitive personal data. There are a variety of options for safeguarding data in the long term, as an example from Munich public utilities shows.

 

The topic of security starts with defining access rights. SAP solutions already include such authorization systems, which are also well suited for accessing digital personnel files. These stop unauthorized individuals from viewing personnel files.

 

Audit-proof archiving

In contrast to paper files, digital versions always includes a protocol function that shows who did what, and when, with a personnel file. All documents are stored in an audit-proof manner. This means that they can saved such that they always remain traceable, cannot be changed, and are secured against falsification. Additionally, digital files guarantee that you will actually be able to observe deletion deadlines for personal documents prescribed by the legislature. Therefore, digital files have significant advantages over paper ones when it comes to data security as well.

 

Want to learn more? Just take a look at digital personnel files from EASY here.

ECM Partner Kick-off Schleupen: EASY Makes a Strong Showing!

Clear messages, powerful presence – a great summary of EASY SOFTWARE AG’s showing at this year’s ECM Partner Kick Off for Schleupen AG on January 29th and 29th in Düsseldorf. After a warm greeting by Gregor Fies, Director of Schleupen AG, Willy Cremers, Managing Director of EASY SOFTWARE AG provided the more than 70 participants some insight into the types of topics that will play a role in upcoming product portfolio developments from the software manufacturer.

 

“What moves us – and what moves you forward”

Under the title “What moves us – and moves you forward,” Cremers outlined the EASY SOFTWARE AG’s strong position in the partner environment, displayed current and upcoming trends in the digital workplace, and indicated how EASY plans to respond to them. Mobility, digitization, automation, and mobile cloud solutions are some of the major factors in the success of a company. That’s why they were included in the EASY ECM Suite as well. “Our tasks is creating systems that answer these trends,” said Cremers. Furthermore, the Easy Director announced the establishment of a service desk with quicker reaction times and the introduction of a Partner Port 2.0.

 

EASY HR 3.0 for today’s digital personnel management

Gerald Rüdiger, Head of Sales, Marketing & Corporate Development at EASY SOFTWARE AG also had some news for participants. He used the new personnel management software EASY HR 3.0 as an example to demonstrate how EASY is perceiving the demands of the market and implementing market needs in its solutions in a smart, forward-looking manner. EASY HR 3.0 delivers everything today’s digital personnel management requires, thereby opening up excellent new opportunities – especially when attracting new customers.

 

Developing partners

During the event, Schleupen AG presented its new course of action for partner management in 2016. Their focus will be on increasing partner development and intensifying and optimizing collaboration with EASY SOFTWARE AG, the leading software manufacturer for ECM products and solutions in Germany.

 

Successful together

“We believe that EASY SOFTWARE AG is on the right path, even during this ongoing phase of radical change and reorientation. In 2016, each company is going to be focused on working together to lay the groundwork for success for its partner,” said Dr Ekkehard Rosien, Managing Director of Schleupen AG.

Additionally, the event offered participants an opportunity to refresh their knowledge on technical and sales-related ECM topics: presentations on successful project planning were on the agenda, as were “best practice” examples and options for successfully implementing processes using EASY solutions.