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Enterprise file sync-and-share platforms increasingly offer businesses new options to streamline workflows.
The latest is Citrix ShareFile, which over the course of the next month will add new features that allow users to request e-signatures and approvals, as well as track the statuses of those requests. These ShareFile updates can help organizations digitize processes that are often paper-based. Box, Microsoft, Google and other vendors have similar features in their enterprise file sync-and-share (EFSS) offerings today, so businesses are weighing their options.
"We have some paper processes, and we want a digital format," said Hector Cortez, an architect at ShareFile customer Neovia Logistics Services LLC, a global logistics company based in Irving, Texas. "This is exactly what we're looking for. We'll be testing it in the next month or so."
Typical approval workflows include requesting time off or getting signatures on contracts. In the new ShareFile updates, users can request approvals and e-signatures for these kinds of processes, set due dates for when tasks must be completed and track their progress. When an employee sends a request to multiple managers, for example, he or she can see which manager has viewed it and where in the process it is. Users receive emails letting them know when a request needs their attention.
Some of Neovia's business processes require paperwork for filing expense reports, submitting requests for equipment and onboarding new employees, Cortez said. Neovia started using ShareFile about five years ago, but used Microsoft SharePoint for workflow management because of its close integration with Office 365.
"If you use [SharePoint] lightly, it works well," Cortez said. "But if too many users are on it, that impacts performance."
Users ran into issues with SharePoint closing out of files, causing them to stop paying attention to the application, Cortez said. Now, the company is interested in the new ShareFile workflow capabilities to potentially replace SharePoint. ShareFile also integrates with Office 365.
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ShareFile includes a new dashboard where users can track requests, which they could previously do only through email. The dashboard also provides easier access to recently opened documents, and users can preview stored documents, so they don't need to download to view them.
The new ShareFile updates are only for the web application, with functionality for the mobile app coming in 2017, Citrix said.
A draw of ShareFile is it supports other EFSS platforms, including Box, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive. Users can access files stored in these services from the ShareFile dashboard. Businesses want a choice of where they store their files, said Terri McClure, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass.
"They want performance and not migrations [to other platforms]," McClure said. "They want it to snap into tools they are already using. People already have Box, Dropbox and Office 365, and Citrix lets you use any of those."
Other products that provide workflow features include Google Forms, which allows users to build forms, send them to co-workers and request approvals on data in the documents. Box in September announced an add-on to its platform, Box Relay, which allows for digital workflows through a desktop and mobile app.
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