Town Planners

Survey, Engineering, Document, Management System

Town planning made easy

Would you like to instantly know what step each job is up to and what needs to be done? M-Files takes the hassle and the guess work out of managing projects and processes. See in an instant what tasks for a job are completed and who did the work.

M-Files can manage workflows so you can see just want is happening on a project and who is handling each step. Ensure that steps don’t get missed and have reminders automatically emailed so deadlines are met.

This is all reportable so you can see an overview of all projects and where they are up to.

With town planning, it is important to be compliant.

Documents required for compliance can be set to automatically autofill information saving you time in their creation. Automatic naming conventions are also easy and popular.

Staying on top of compliance requirements and having information required by auditors at your fingertips are just a couple of the benefits you will see in M-Files.

With M-Files version control, audit trails are readily visible for auditors showing what changes a document has gone through and who made those changes. You can even roll back to earlier versions if required.

surveyers-paperless-document-system

Information retention for now and the future

Handling CAD files can be a problem, due to their size and multiple x-refs. M-Files integrates with AutoCAD and using its version control only saves the binary changes to a document, freeing up huge amounts of storage space to meet version control requirements.

M-Files also integrates and works with Leap and Latitude just to name a few, helping you streamline processes and save time.

By having a one stop shop for all information and knowledge automated assignments and detailed workflows will be created by of experts who in turn will teach you how to manage and create new ones as the needs arise (we are always on hand if you need some help).

These automated processes are controlled and based on security to ensure the right business process is being completed in a timely fashion.

Click on one of the buttons below to get a free trial or an instant quote. As town planners, you will be impressed with the small outlay and ease of use.

To read the full transcript of the video, please click here

Surveyors, Engineers, Architects & Town Planners video transcript

Overview

Hello and welcome to this demonstration of M-Files for Surveyors, Engineers and Town Planners. At the end of this presentation, we will give you details of how to download a fully functioning trial of M-Files. You can try it in your environment. There will also be an opportunity to get an instant quote, so you can see how much the M-Files system will cost. To give you an overview of where we’re headed today, what this is all about, is a way to centralize all the company’s information. Whether that’s your paper-based files, electronic documents, your emails, invoices, AutoCAD plans, design files, anything coming in or going out, is all captured into a central system. We need to be able to achieve that quicker and easier than your current manual processes, so we’re not adding a job to the day. Most importantly, it’s all about retrieval. Allowing you and the staff to find anything instantly, anyway that makes sense to you. Who it’s from, what it’s about, when it came in, via a street address, a plan number, we have it up on the screen immediately. What it’s all about from there then, is what you’re doing with this information. Things like assignments, workflows, version control, document collaboration, all the actionable items that you do with the instantly found information, is where you’ll see this will all come together nicely.

About Us

To give you a little bit of information about M-Files and who we are, we have been specializing in this over 20 years. We do a lot of work across your industry with great results. You have a huge amount of information and it’s often a complex process that you’re dealing with for project management etc. You’ll find this will bring it all together nicely.

Security and Access

Here are some of the current pain points that we often see when dealing with your industries. I’m sure that some of these, if not all of them will resonate with you. There are certainly areas that we will solve with the M-Files solution. Let’s have a look at how it works. let’s look at the three main parts of the system. We’re first looking at the capture side. We need to log in and we can set up different security levels for different people within the organization. You may have a general filing area that everyone can see. There might be a HR/Payroll that only two or three people can access. Different security levels depending on what’s required. From there we can set up individual user rights. Some people get to annotate, edit, append, delete and other people get read-only rights. Behind the scenes, every action that is taken within the system is automatically tracked and recorded. You’ll know who’s looked at what document when. Who’s approved a quote. Who’s updated a drawing. Any of those actionable items are now automatically tracked and recorded.

Looks Familiar

The nice thing about M-Files is, it looks and feels like Windows Explorer. There’s really no learning curve. Here you’ve got folders and subfolders and subfolders all the way down to job files and a job that we’re doing for Bloggs. If we click on their folder, just like in Windows Explorer, we get a list of documents. Like Windows Explorer, when you click on one of the documents, you get a preview of that document, on the right-hand side. The nice thing about that, being based on a folder structure is, it’s instantly usable. We’re all familiar with it. Of course, the problem with folder-based systems is, they don’t work. If you name it incorrectly, put it in the wrong spot or if you and I have differing opinions on how we think it should be named, or where it should be saved, it can be difficult to find and retrieve. We take a vastly different approach. Instead of having to name this document correctly and put it in the right folder, what if we had dozens of different links that linked back to it and you could search for it by who it’s from, what it’s about, when it came in, via a keyword off a document and we have it up on the screen immediately. We call those links metadata. The metadata for this document is listed at the bottom. We’ve noted who the client is, the job or project we’re doing for them, who your job manager is, document dates, types, workflows etc. Because we tend to file and find using metadata, the old folder-based search method generally becomes redundant. This example of metadata is just that, an example. We will custom build this, specifically based around your organization, your procedures your processes, but we use this as a generic example for today.

Capturing your information/documents

Looking at the first part of the system, let’s look at ways of capturing information that makes sure the input process is quick and easy. Let’s say we’ve got some correspondence to one of your clients. This might be on letterhead. It might be a word document. It could be a photo or video, a spreadsheet, any file format whatsoever can be saved into the system. How do we save it? The same way you do. We just click on save. Instead of saving it in your folders on your server, we now save it in the M file system, which also lives on your server. M-Files then asks us to categorize this. Would you put this under company admin, general admin that everyone can access, HR files, job files? You’ve got various groups and departments already established and we will customize the departments for and with you. Inside a department you have document types. You have certificates and purchase orders, worksheets. contracts etc. Not only will we create the departments for and with you but will also create all your document types around your current terminology.

Linking to existing databases

In this case, we’re going to call it correspondence and it asks which job is it for? Instead of having to type them all in, what if we can pick it from a pre-set list. What if this list came from your existing database or from MYOB, if you only had an accounting program, from a spreadsheet, from whatever system you’re utilizing. We can either import from or link back to that. When we select our job for Bloggs, it says, I know additional information about them. I know who the overriding client is, and I know who your job manager is, you want me to fill out auto fields and we say yes. These are what we call parent-child fields. When you select one piece of information, it fills out the rest for you. We’ve popped in today’s date, hit create and that one has been added into the database. You continue to work on the document as you normally do and now that we’re finished with it, it is saved, and we have captured our first document, our letter to Bill Bloggs. The preview is shown on the right and the metadata is listed at the bottom.

Using Templates

Let’s do this again, but a far quicker and easier way. Because M-Files runs all day, you can build new documents from within the system. Instead of building a document from scratch, one of our clients has requested a status report and it launches your reporting template. The nice thing about managing templates in here, is if you changed your reporting template, it is then globally changed, and all staff are on that version moving forward. This is great for workplace health and safety, policy documents, leave applications etc. The various things that you use templates for can all be managed in here. Brilliant of course, for QA. M-Files fills out the bulk of the filing fields for me. All I have to do is pop it in today’s date and it even sets up an automatic naming convention, which I’m going to come back to. Our template is launched. We’ve got your letterhead on top and your standard job report. These items in dark grey are metadata, that’s been inserted into the document from M-Files. Often this database information has come from other systems into M-Files and then into your word document. If you wanted to put an additional metadata, like perhaps the documents version number, using the M-Files tab which follows you around in Office, we can insert additional fields. In this case the documents version number and that’s another item in dark grey. Later I’m going to change this version and you’ll see that we’ll go from version one to version two. We’re finished with this document. We save this into M-Files and we have its preview on the right and its metadata listed at the bottom. We’ve also set up automatic naming. It’s named by what it is, who it’s for and the date. I didn’t have to fill any of this out. I didn’t have to spell it correctly. I didn’t have to adhere to your crazy rules about how we’re supposed to file things here. It just did it all for me. This also means that everything is very consistent going in and out of the building and its naming conventions looks far more professional.

Capturing emails quickly and easily

Let’s have a look at our Outlook emails. Emails are notoriously difficult to capture and file. Some of the problems with emails is first they are an editable type document. They don’t comply with the Electronics Act. They’re usually not backed up, if it’s on your local machine. Six months later you run out of space and you delete them and company information is disappearing. Disaster, but luckily M-Files integrates into your Outlook filing system, so all we do is drag and drop it. This email I see, is an IT agreement from our IT supplier to me. That sounds like company correspondence. I will put that into their company correspondence and M-Files files it for me. It fills out the subject line based on the subject line of the email. It puts in the dates, email addresses etc. There’s nothing to do but click on create and that one is added to the system. You’ve automatically complied with the Electronics Act. It’s all backed up on the server. You can delete it from your machine if you wish. A couple of nice things to note. When you file something in M-Files, it gives it a blue category, so visually I can see that one out of four emails have been captured. If I emailed this through to you and Michelle in your office, who’s responsible for filing it? Of course, you have no idea. You both might do it or none of you may do it. Let’s say Michelle’s filed it, then when you go to file it, it tells you it’s already been done. This saves on email duplication. How much time and space are wasted capturing duplicate emails? The file format that we saved this in is an Outlook email, so when you open it, you can reply forward, you can open attachments. We’ve got it as a useful email message not as a piece of paper in a filing cabinet. I’m going to file another email and this one has an attachment in it. Often when people email you an attachment, it’s more the attachment you’re after than the email itself. I’m going to ask M-Files to automatically separate out and file all the attachments for me. Because this is an email from one of our clients, we’re going to put this under job correspondence. It fills out the bulk of the filing fields. All I have to do is put in the job itself and everything else is completed. We hit create and it’s added to M-Files and it too gets a blue category. When we go into the M file system, instead of simply just having an email which we can click on and open, this one has been put in a folder where we have our emails available to us, if you need it. More importantly, the attachment is there and if you were to search for the word cabinets within your filing system, it would take you straight to your attachment, which is what you really wanted. You’ve also got the email there as well.

Scanning documents

If it’s a piece of paper, we can run it through a high-speed scanner, something like this, as an example. You can load it and it will scan a stack of pages at 70 pages a minute straight up onto the screen or we can make use of your existing photo copiers or scanners. They’ll do the same job, but we find this as a nice ergonomic unit that sits on your desk and is great for the person opening the mail. There are many ways of scanning into the system. One way is to right-click and add document from scanner. I’m not going to do that, but if I did scan in a batch of mail, it would ask who’s it from, what’s it about, where would you like to file it.

Importing existing documents

Speaking of batch scanning, we can do batch importing, so what do you do with the existing folders and subfolders that are already on the server? They can be brought into the system in batches and I’ve put together some example documents that we’re going to file all at once. It opens the first document on the right-hand side and shows a preview of what we’re filing. I fill out our usual metadata fields, as we had previously, and when I hit create on the first one, if you look over on the left, you’ll see the first one is added to the system and the next one is opened. Its preview is shown on the right. The name of the document is maintained by whatever your naming convention in your folder was. Of course, the whole point of your folders is, they’re groups of documents. We know this is a correspondence folder, for this client. Why don’t we say create all and when we do that, each of the documents are added to the system. The original file format is maintained. Your original naming convention and document dates are maintained. You can also search for a variety of the keywords off the document as well as via any of the metadata. It takes around 10 seconds to capture a folder. If you look at how many folders and subfolders you have, you’ll be able to very quickly capture all that information.

Linking to your existing folders

What if we could just map back to your existing network? What if you had a Z Drive with all your folders and subfolders as they look today? We call this a traditional folder. This is your Z Drive that we’ve mapped back to, with all your folders and subfolders. Your entire folder structure can be brought in from day one. That is the first part of the system, which is capture. That capture process should be quicker and easier than what you are doing today.

Retrieving Documents/Information

The second part of the system, however, is where we see all the great results. What if you could find, well actually as an example, what if you wanted to know what time the sunset was tonight in your location. Into Google you’d put in your location and the word so sunset. You’d get yourself an instant answer. You don’t need to know that that information came from a spreadsheet 20 folders deep on a server in Brisbane. You don’t really care. One instant answer. Wouldn’t it be nice if your filing system worked the same way? You could ask a question based on what it is that you remember. You don’t have to remember how it was named, or which folder it was put in. I very vaguely remember, I spoke to someone called Bloggs. That’s it. It’s all I know. I do a search for that and I get documents totalling 22. It shows me where the word appears in the name, multiple times through the metadata and each of the instances throughout our document. But I got 22 and it’s too many. I now remember it had something to do with Bloggs and was an invoice. I’ll add in a second word. It narrows it down in this case to 3. It shows me where both words are in the name, the metadata and throughout our document. 99 times out of 100, you know who you’re talking to. You know what you’re looking for and you drill it down to one or two documents every time. No more telephone tag. With any inquiry, you can say, yep looking at it, what would you like to know.

Customised shortcuts for searching

Depending on where you’re sitting within the organization, you’re going to want things in very different ways. What you’ve tried to do, is squeeze everybody into one filing system, which of course, didn’t really work. With M-Files, what if we could give you a filing system for each of you, as an individual. It’s as if the entire business revolved around your information needs. We do that, simply by creating common search areas for you in your role. I’ve set up some example ones across the whole business. We’ll look at a few just to get an idea. Perhaps you’re looking after jobs and you want to look at our job files. Here is a list of the jobs. If we go into the job for Bloggs, there are all your documents and folders. Maybe you’d like to look at it from a client point of view and if we look at our client Bloggs Pty Ltd, they have a metadata card. We can see that they are Accountants. They have addresses, phone numbers, contact details etc. This information is available often in other databases or Outlook contacts. Wouldn’t it be nice if it also appeared in the document management system? Maybe you’d like to look at it from a HR point of view. If I look at our employee, Angela, I can see she has a contract, employee documents and a performance review. If we go into her performance review, it’s automatically named by what it is, who it was for when it was done and then a preview of that is on the right-hand side. Maybe you’d like to look at it from an Asset Register point of view. I can see that one this PC, who we bought it from, how much it was, serial numbers, whose desk it’s on and even warranty expiration dates can be listed. Perhaps from an accounts point of view, you might say, show me all the invoices that have been entered ready for payment this week and there’s two. If we click on one of them, we have all the details, like accounting codes, what it was for, who’s it being used by etc. The one that I use all the time is, recently accessed by me. I’m going back to things all the time and here are some of the items that I’ve worked on recently, including our job report. What we’re trying to illustrate is, wherever you’re sitting, to find what you need, the moment you need it and the entire world is set up around your day-to-day processes. This saves you a huge amount of time for those 50 to 100 things we all look for each day. You’ll now have it in seconds instead of minutes.

The Power of Metadata

In the third and last part of the system is where it can all come together. What if we apply this theory of metadata to other things within the business? What if you had metadata around clients, contacts, suppliers and jobs? You’ll start to see that all your information like drawings, emails, Word documents and invoices, as well as all of your knowledge, like phone numbers, status of jobs, email addresses, can all be brought together into one place. A one-stop shop for the information and knowledge. The best way to start to show you the third and last part of the process is where, first, we’re going to do a search for all staff. We search for all employees and there is 12 of us. When I click on me, I’m not a document with metadata, I’m an employee with metadata. It has metadata about me. It says that I’m a director, a job manager and I have multiple roles. I have addresses, phone numbers, contact details, emergency contact information etc. This is metadata about me, the employee. Throughout M-Files, you’ll see these little arrows. This means there are things related to me. It could be what I am working on. As it turns out, I have 10 jobs. I’ve got six employees in my team and five outstanding assignments. This is an overview as me, the employee. This is great from a management point of view. One of the jobs that I’m working on was for Bloggs and if we go into the Bloggs’ job, we can see who is the overriding client. It’s Bloggs Pty Ltd. When clicking on the staff member card. We have access to clicking on a client card and we get their CRM information, addresses, phone numbers etc. Weren’t there documents associated with this client? One of those things is our document. Because we’re clicking on a document we get our documents preview and our documents metadata showing. What’s linked to our document well as it turns out, is a contact for the job. If we were to go into just this contact and just documents for them we’re back to our report. Wherever you are within the M-Files system, whether you’re within a job, client, contact, supplier, staff member, everything is related to everything else and now all your information and all your knowledge has been brought together. Where that becomes very useful is in a simple day-to-day example.

Assignments, Task, Approvals

If I asked you to call Bloggs regarding that report, how do I get your attention? Do I send you a long email you don’t understand, or come and interrupt you? If you’re in this meeting, do I put a post-it note on your screen which may fall off? Even if I get your attention, how do I know you’ve done your job? Do I have to follow up with you tomorrow? That takes up your time and my time. Instead of having unmanaged plastic in trays what if we could replace them with managed electronic in trays. Simple jobs are now called assignments. My assignment for you is to call Bloggs. I am going to give you a bit more information, so you know what to do. I’m going to allocate it to the clients file, so there’s a permanent record that I’ve requested this. The deadline I’m giving you is today, so we’ve got a short deadline to get this one completed. As I’m set up in the system I will assign it to myself and I’ll receive the email notification telling me I have a new job to do. We have a new assignment call Bloggs. Let’s say, I’ve notified you to do this work, how do you go about doing it? First, where’s the phone number for Bloggs? Is that in Outlook contacts, a database, a business card? Once you’ve got the phone number, with the document itself now, is that the one that you emailed to them? Is that the one they edited and sent back to Michelle? How do you know you’re on the right version? Then you can pick up the phone. With M-Files, if I asked you to give Bloggs a call, you say great, what’s their phone number and there it is at the bottom. As the phone’s ringing Bill picks up the phone and you say, hey Bill I’ve got this report open on my desk, what would you like to know? What a result. How many times a day do we need a document and a phone number, an invoice and an approval, status of a job and who’s managing it? Most of what we’re doing in a day is information and knowledge. This brings the two together nicely.

Notifying you

How did we notify you of this? We’ve found the best place to do that is in Outlook. Because we send and receive emails, we get email notifications. It’s come in, Bloggs read the report, that’s fine, deadlines today, so I better get on with it. Again, instead of going off in all those different areas, you can now click on it directly from your notification and it takes you straight to your assignment in M-Files. Not only do we have the contact details available to us at the bottom, not only do we have the document that you think you need open on the right-hand side, but if they ask you something obscure the rest of the file is also available to you as well. This will be in your in tray, your to-do lists, forever, until your mark it as completed. To do so, you pop a tick next to your name. You hit save and we get a green tick on the clipboard.

Managing Office Workloads

As your boss, I might say, show me all assignments for yourself. There are six ones completed, the rest are outstanding. I can see where you are up to. If I see that you’ve got too much work to do, or too little work, I can micromanage in trays to ensure that nothing gets missed.

Managing Workflows

They are simple day-to-day tasks, which are nice, but a lot of what we’re doing of course is more complicated than that. We’re dealing with multiple people, multiple steps and stages, different deadlines etc. One of the last things I’m going to show you is a workflow that brings all these different features together. We’re going to create a new document, but instead of building a document from scratch, under our job files, a client has requested a quote for services. Of course, it launches your quoting template. We fill out our usual metadata fields, like we had previously, and we also have our automatic naming in place as well. We hit create and our quoting template is launched, which is in Word. We have your standard job quote template and again I’ve asked M-Files to fill out the bulk of the filing fields for me. This quote for services is $3,000 and as quick and as easy as that you have finished. You have saved it into the system like any other document. We have it automatically named by what it is, who it’s for, which job. We have a preview of it shown on the right-hand side and our usual metadata at the bottom. We also have this workflow area. This workflow is a quote approval process. There’ll be dozens of different workflows built and created for you. This one has been automatically assigned to me and I’ve received email notification. The deadline I’ve been given is 24 hours and my job is, the quote is to be approved before sending. I’m looking at it. Dodo I approve this, yes or no? At this stage in our workflow, I can go in two different directions. I can either say, quote to be amended as per comments, in which case it goes back to your desk, or I can move it on saying, quote approved please send to the client. I’m going to say it’s approved. I’m happy with it. If you look at who it’s assigned to, whose desk it’s on, it automatically goes out of my to-do list and it goes to Karen. Karen gets notified via email. Her job is, the quote has been approved please send it to the client. Karen does her job and she might say, emailed today. When Karen clicks okay, it goes off her desk and it’s on nobody’s desk as it’s been completed. It’s a very simple and short workflow, but it gives you the idea that information can go through from person to person. Each one of you does a certain job or action, then it goes to the next person. 24 hours before my deadline, I can be sent a reminder. 24 hours after I miss my deadline, you get notified. We can put all sorts of rules around these workflows. They can be very simple as demonstrated, or they can be more complicated and go in a series of different directions depending on what it is you require. We’re going to help you build and develop the workflows around your world. We’re going to teach you how to maintain and manage them. They’re very straightforward once they’re up and running.

Mobile/Web/Tablet Access

One of the last things then, to show you, is that we’ve really become a more mobile workforce. What if you get access to your entire filing system, from wherever you are. From any iPhone, tablet, PC, and iPad, Android devices, web browser on a client’s site, from wherever you are, you can access your entire office. I can’t show you my mobile phone, but I can play for a one-minute video, which I’ll do now, that explains how that process works.

M-Files mobile access puts the information important to your business, right at your fingertips. No matter where you are, view documents on the go, like that purchase invoice that just came in. Check it out and make sure everything is correct and approve it. Then Greg in accounting gets emailed automatically. You can pull the invoice up on his laptop and send the payment. It’s seamless, mobile and available for download now. It’s just one of the ways you can experience the magic of M-Files. As you can see from that, it brings it all together beautifully. All your information and all your knowledge, available to you, from wherever you are.

That’s a short overview of how the M-Files system works and I’m sure you can see some tremendous productivity enhancements and benefits to the organization.

Customisation/Implementation/Training

The trick we found, is with all this though, it is implementation that is the key. If we said, here’s some software, goodbye, and good luck, it just wouldn’t work. The challenges of course, is you’ve got multiple staff, with multiple opinions. We need one filing system, one methodology. The first way we go about achieving this for you is, we’re going to develop a procedures and how-to manual, specifically for your organization. We document, what it is you do. How do you process the mail? What do you do with invoices, reports, site meetings, variations? Whatever it is you do, we will custom build this for you as a document. If you click on, how do we process the mail, this is a made-up example, but if it was incoming mail and they are general documents, then they’re open and admin to sort, scan and file. I’ve forgotten how to file, so I click on the word in blue and up come the filing instructions. Written instructions, written in English, by our trainers, not IT talk. It is not a technical manual. These screenshots are a copy of your M-Files solution, not our example here. Then we even take it further, where we make fields compulsory. You must file by who it’s from, what it’s about, when it came in, or the system won’t let you file it. You get to set as many or as few rules around the database as you want, to ensure it’s captured a certain number of ways. We will then provide extensive implementation and training. We’ll train two people there as M file system administrators. They will build and develop the whole system. You’ll set up procedures, processes, passwords. You’ll own it as a process, in-house. The ongoing maintenance of the system is maybe five minutes a month once it’s up and running. You simply make use of it. We will then train the balance of the staff in small classes of up to three people for four hours. If we’re training you, processing your documents, through your scanners, based on your procedures and process manual, on your computers, then you’ll be at an expert level. You go live the very next morning and you’re guaranteed to get your results. There you go, that’s probably enough out of me as an overview. I hope you found some tremendous value and benefits to you there.

Download a Trial/Quote

As we had mentioned at the beginning, there is now the opportunity to download a fully functioning trial of M-Files and I would encourage you to do that and see for yourself, how the system works. There is also an opportunity to get an instant quote, so you’ve got the pricing available to you as well. Both of those options are available from our home page. Of course we’re available at any stage, if there’s any phone calls, or drop me an email and we look forward to working with you on this project.

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Karen is so awesome! She has inspired me to create an AMAZING M-Files.

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