In today’s fast paced world, the need for innovation is at an all-time high and it has had a significant impact on manufacturing and quality operations. Historically, companies looked inward to cultivate new ideas. Today, there is an ever growing need to focus outward and collaborate externally to keep a competitive advantage. Because of this, there is extremely high demand for companies to implement a secure platform from which internal employees can collaborate efficiently with external partners. As a result of this demand, Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS), also known as Enterprise File Sync and Share, has emerged as the industry standard solution.
According to Wikipedia,“EFSS System refers to software services that enable organizations to securely synchronize and share documents, photos, videos and files from multiple devices with employees, and external customers and partners.”1
So why should Quality and Manufacturing (Q&M) have an EFSS platform in place to collaborate with external partners?
Well let’s face it, sharing documents and collaborating with external partners using email is painful, unorganized, unsecure and inefficient to say the least. Investing in an external collaboration solution will provide your organization with the right tools to collaborate effectively with external partners and grow holistically.
There are a number of vendors competing for this space, and most provide an enterprise solution that allows you and your external partners to share documents and knowledge, and work together in a secure, structured, and cost-effective environment.
So let’s dive deeper in the bolded points above:
EFSS Systems are Secure
Security is important for the Q&M space since most documents are usually proprietary by nature. EFSS systems allow administrators the ability to create accounts for external partners. This provides partners with a secure, single sign-on to access the portal. Internal users can select documents to share and provide specific permission levels for the documents. External users can only see the content they have permission to see. The following permission levels are usually standard with all EFSS systems:
- Admin (Reserved for internal users)
- Contribute (Allows internal/external users to edit a document, list or library)
- Read (Allows users to only view a document, list or library)
Once on the portal, a partner can only access content for which they are given permissions. For added security, most EFSS systems allow internal users the option to enable an expiration date for the time period the partner can access the document.
EFSS Systems Provide Structure
Working with external partners can cause confusion and issues when it comes to how and where to store their information and knowledge. Having an external collaboration structure in place provides a process and home for their “knowledge pool”. By design, Q&M relies predominantly on documents such as SOPs, protocols and reports to name a few. Having an EFSS in place in parallel with a rigid process discipline will provide structure that is key to enhancing quality. This would include where to share documents, where to communicate (e.g. forums, wikis, communities), and how to do so. By creating a structured external collaboration capability, this ensures all parties are aligned and nothing is missed.
EFSS Systems are Cost-Effective
A major goal for manufacturing is to be as cost-effective as possible, while maintaining a high level of quality. Often when you can save time, you save money. When collaborating externally with partners, efficiency can be a struggle. Gaps in communication are identified, and it becomes confusing knowing where to find documents and how to share them. EFSS Systems offer an effective “one stop shop” aspect by providing one place for everyone to go to share their knowledge. Having this “one stop shop” creates an efficient approach between partners by having a communication and document storage plan in place from the get-go.
Early adopters of EFSS traditionally have set-up servers and built EFSS solutions on premise. These are seen as highly secure but expensive to build and maintain. Because of increasing costs, there has been a shift towards cloud-based solutions. Cloud EFSS solutions save time and money because the responsibility of building, maintaining, scaling and troubleshooting the platform is placed on the vendor. But because the data is housed elsewhere, performance tends to be slower and data security is controlled by the vendor. Most large organizations likely have a legacy storage system already in place; however, a cloud-based system can be integrated into the legacy platform. This allows an organization to have a hybrid platform that provides the best of both worlds between in-house and cloud-based solutions.
With the rapid pace of change becoming the new norm, we are always thinking one step ahead – which creates opportunities for email communications to be missed or documents to be lost. Add working externally with partners into the mix, and this becomes a daunting task. This is why having a well-thought-out platform is now more important than ever.
In the beginning we asked, “So why should Quality and Manufacturing have an EFSS platform in place to collaborate with external partners?” – The answer is because an EFSS system provides a complete connectivity solution between internal and external partners in a secure, structured, and cost-effective location; which in the end ensures a successful and profitable relationship between both parties.
1Wikipedia, retrieved 10/17/2017 1:20 PM by Mark Schmieg, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_file_synchronization_and_sharing
Co-authored by: Jaclyn Giordano
Jaclyn Giordano is a Senior Consultant for Paragon's Quality & Manufacturing domain. In this role, she provides knowledge management insight to help clients build better platforms, allowing them to deliver more efficient ways of distributing and consuming information. Her career has generally been focused in healthcare and life sciences, and she has most recently remained concentrated in the knowledge management area. Jaclyn has become skilled at strategizing and implementing effective knowledge management initiatives and continues to attend Knowledge Management conferences and trainings to further her awareness and better understand the industry’s needs.