Workarounds – a sign your business may be behind the times?

People are great problem solvers. Give them an obstacle and they’ll find a way past it. If your employees are self-starters and they’re working with systems that don’t work for them, you can be sure they’ll find ways around. And who can blame them? They’ve got targets and deadlines to hit. They’ve made promises to customers and colleagues that they need to keep.

And you might be thinking - what’s the harm in that? If they’ve got some workarounds in place - great. It’s easier than trying to sort out new solutions.

The path of least resistance

Let’s look at the common hacks used by employees to get their job done. Eternally popular, emailing documents to personal accounts so they can work while away from the office - surely a win for productivity. Then there’s the favourite collaboration hack - setting up unsanctioned sync-&-share services so they can access lots of different files from Starbucks or the departure lounge, and share them with colleagues, suppliers and partners. It means sensitive company data is scattered round the internet, in places your IT department can’t see. And that’s the issue with the path of least resistance - it usually leads to problems down the line.

But we’ve got ECM!

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) appeared in the 2000s. But although those ECM systems were good at managing business-critical information and processes, they fell way short of an enjoyable user experience. Disappointingly so. Research by Systemscope shows that over 50% of ECM projects have had lower than expected adoption rates. Worse still, 50% have failed outright. Small wonder that workarounds have become an answer. So, what’s the issue? Why aren’t ECM systems working for employees?

Lagging behind real life

Everything about the way we do business has changed in less than ten years. In particular, four forces have reshaped the way we work today.

1. Mobility. With most of the planet now contactable by smartphone, companies need to match refined customer expectations and offer mobile services that improve the quality and convenience of their customers’ lives.
2. Analytics. Businesses must navigate colossal amounts of data, identifying the important information that helps them improve customer experience, or the necessary data to feed applications and devices.
3. Cloud. Today’s businesses are built on cloud technology, while established tech giants are increasingly collaborating with cloud-native providers.
4. Internet of Things. By 2020, new business models will need to incorporate an estimated 25 billion interconnected devices generating information, on top of the existing network of mobile users.

Many ECM systems were designed before this rapid evolution took place. Now their capabilities lag behind the realities of how we do business today, forcing employees to find workarounds to get their job done. Whitney Bouck – SVP Global Marketing at Box presented our views on how to solve ECM issues during her keynote address at our recent BoxWorks 2015 event.

A barometer for what’s broken

According to, only 8% of companies know the scope of shadow IT hiding in their organisations. That means most are largely unaware of the network logs, email traffic, attachments, corporate credit card reports, phone bills, ISP bills and firewall logs lurking in their systems.
By collaborating more directly with the employees in your business from the start, you can find out about what’s broken in your systems and processes before it’s too late.

Are company-sanctioned workarounds ok?

Not all ECM system-dodging happens below the radar. Under pressure from the business to enable collaboration and mobility, many IT managers have been forced into company-sanctioned workarounds. Adding external partners to the corporate directory is one example. Duplicating data from the internal network in the DMZ is also common, but far from ideal. The increased storage and management cost of duplication is one issue. Often sensitive data ends up in the DMZ, making it a prime target for hackers. Enterprisesknow the risks, but aren’t often aware that there is a safe alternative.

An Enterprise Content Management and Collaboration Platform that works

To stay ahead of workarounds, a next generation enterprise content management and collaboration platform needs to meet three key criteria:

1. Diverse Content Management - the system needs to be able to deliver on managing ALL content types across thousands of apps, on all devices and up to a cloud scale. 

2. Flexible Security Controls - meaning you can be confident that content and data is safe and secure, but still accessible for users.

3. Workflow integration - optimum interoperability ensuring content and communication can flow seamlessly across business critical solutions and LOB apps.

Oh, and it has to deliver a fantastic user experience. If workarounds feel like hard work, they're less likely to endure. 

Is your Enterprise Content Management and Collaboration up to date?

Talk to Box to find out