It's a DIY era for modern workers. A combination of mobile and collaborative technologies have sparked interest in agile business processes — especially processes workers can create themselves.

Dallas-based M-Files understands this, as evidenced by its April release of M-Files 2015. The enterprise information management (EIM) solution, which makes it easier to create business processes, combines an easy-to-use graphical workflow editor with enhanced support for business continuity and hybrid cloud deployments.

The goal is to help workers accomplish tasks easily, speedily and from almost any location. Simply put, this release is about enabling work.

Creating Workflows

To find out more about this release, we talked to two M-Files executives: Mika Javanainen, senior director of product management, and Greg Milliken, Vice President of marketing.

Javanainen said the 2015 release focuses on scalability and data security, "enabling us to support large enterprise deployments without giving up the simplicity of the system. [We added] graphical workflow tools, advanced replication capabilities and advanced mobile content management features through a simple user interface."

Workers can use graphical diagrams to better visualize and more easily manage complex workflows. In addition, for businesses with regulatory or quality mandates, diagrams can be exported to support compliance requirements.

Milliken said the workflows cross the border into business process management functionality.

"We don’t really try to define ourselves in this way per se. But this whole engine and how we process information and our investment here is to simplify the process of building those workflows. That’s a core priority for us.”

Two Into One

Combining business process management (BPM), enterprise content management (ECM) and document management is a growing trend — and everyone looks to be getting on board.

This is particularly true of agile cloud-based document and content management companies that are trying to provide workers with flexible tools that can be tweaked to suit changing business needs.

Only last week, Alfresco unveiled enhancements designed to pull BPM and ECM closer together. Paul Hampton, product marketing director at Alfresco, said customers are looking for easy-to-use tools to manage content.

Andrew Dixon, Senior Vice President for marketing and operations at Kitchener, Ontario-based Igloo Software, told us its customers want flexible ways to create content and use that content in their business processes.

Enabling Mobile Work

At M-Files, flexible, easy enterprise content management has been a core part of its business strategy from the start. In fact, it was one of the first companies to look at both cloud and hybrid computing.

And its ECM was built to enable users to find content wherever it resided, regardless of the repository. In the latest edition, M-Files enhanced the flexible placement of content, Milliken said, adding:

"We are continuing to build on this idea that it really isn’t crucial where the data is located. Content can exist in the cloud, it can be on-premises, it can be other systems, it can be in an ERP, it can be in a CRM — it’s really fundamental to our vision. We are growing it in the direction to deliver that. We really have focused on developing the architecture to enable that kind of flexibility.”

M-Files has also introduced:

  • Mobile app information: Enhances the graphical workflow editor by providing mobile workers the ability to create, edit, share and process information with Android, Windows and iOS devices
  • Enterprise-scale deployments: M-Files has optimized the underlying vault database structure for better performance and scalability, offering concurrent database operations that perform up to five times faster than before
  • Improvements to the M-Files Web: Improved compatibility with Mac OS X, as well as a new interface that makes editing metadata easier and more intuitive

Faster Releases

Javanainen said M-Files would issue its next release in September. “We're moving to more frequent releases so you'll see a new M-Files upgrade every six months instead of every 12 months, which is our current cycle," he explained.

However, "no one is going to be pushed into this," he added. Clients that work in highly regulated industries can continue to elect 24 months release cycles.

The September release will focus on improved metadata card and the metadata experience, he said, along with new e-forms capabilities and usability improvements. There will also be new language releases, an increase in search speeds across repositories and support for Windows 10, Microsoft's new browser and Office 2016.