In 1999 Harry Baruhas, (now Director of Info-Organiser), was consulting in business strategy when he met a programmer who had developed a paperless filing software he didn’t know how to sell. The software converted hard copy files to digital format and archived them in a simple and accessible searchable database. Harry soon became a partner in the business. As with any disrupting technology the first step was to educate Australian businesses that a transition from paper reliance in an emerging digital age was necessary now. Back then, people were still too attached to using paper.
Transforming Business Filing Mindset
In the early years, Info-Organiser had to change people’s thinking about paper and convince potential clients that a paperless office would save them both time and money. In Harry’s words, “Walking to a filing cabinet could be replaced with instantly searching for a document while at your desk”.
Initially, financial planners and accountants made up a large portion of early-adopter clients. The financial sector was an area of the market that quickly identified the benefits of having electronic files on demand. The timing was right, as the ATO had released tax ruling standards that made it easier for businesses to manage files electronically. The main difficulty in gaining new clients, however, accentuated from a lack of familiarity in using interface systems to make work easier.
To make the mindset shift happen with less push-back, Info-Organiser focused on creating a system that was:
- Simple to implement
- Quick to learn
- Easy to maintain
- Affordable for small business
To ensure the system was easy to use, they prioritised attaching metadata to each file. Metadata tags determine how documents are accessed from search criteria. Metadata tags can include file type, client name, invoice number, the date it was filed and who it was filed by. Metadata prompts can be tailored to each client, depending on what document types are being filed and the compliance standards that must be met.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
One of the first significant clients was a large Melbourne hospital. The contact entailed filing over 3,500 human resources and payroll files. “The hospital was an important stepping-stone for us as the company was able to expand our service beyond the finance sector”, says Harry.
Due to client feedback, the next version of Info-Organiser focused on improving security and administration features so that multiple people in different roles across a company could access the same database.
Harry says, “Five years into the business, I began to notice that the amount of paper used in the workplace was declining and reliance on tech was increasing”. The next area that required attention was a solution for filing emails. Info-Organiser created a ‘plug-in’ feature that sat inside Microsoft Outlook and could instantly transfer important emails into the database.
This feature enabled better workflow for businesses. “We have customised several time-saving email workflow solutions for clients. A high level of customisation has always been a strength of Info-Organiser”, says Harry.
Surviving Market Challenges
In 2007, the Global Financial Crisis hit Australia and almost overnight, the finance sector decreased. “We saw a lot of churn in the next two years, with businesses consolidating costs or closing altogether. We had to make overhead adjustments and scale back our staff until we bought in new business”, says Harry.
Thankfully, the client list had grown deeper into healthcare, manufacturing and construction, so the company was able to weather the loss. The went back to the drawing board and developed a web-based version of Info-Organiser that could be used in the cloud. A Hosted Services division followed as a logical side offering of the business.
Ironically, it was other disrupting file-sharing products such as Dropbox and OneDrive that gave the company the marketing boost it needed. As acceptance of ‘the cloud’ grew, so did the mindset about digital filing. Savvy companies looked at Dropbox and then went searching for a better featured solution and found Info-Organiser online.
Dianne Filipenko, Executive and Marketing Manager, has been with the company since the early days. She says, “We noticed that we had to do a lot less to educate the market about the need for Info-Organiser. The questions prospects asked changed and we started doing demo’s online using shared screen technology, instead of face to face.”
What We’ve Learned Over 20 Years
Looking back, Info-Organiser has earned a deep understanding of what it’s like to start and grow a software and IT business. Dianne says of being involved in a start-up, “In the early days it’s important to hustle and go the extra mile, be willing to take a chance but remember it’s still essential to deliver a high-quality product or service. When developing your technology, ensure that your service clearly adds value in a sensible way, it shouldn’t be difficult to implement or use.”
Her main tip for a maturing company is, “Know the strengths of your product and decide to be the best at delivering those to your customers. We have customers who have been with us for fifteen years and those relationships become the foundation for growth.”
Today, in its twentieth year, Info-Organiser is continuing to adapt the software to keep up to date with client’s needs, and eagerly counting down the days to the pending release of Info-Organiser Version 12. Harry says, “I still get excited by the release of a new version”.
Looking to the future, Info-Organiser believes document management will continue to be driven by increasing compliance standards and inexpensive cloud storage. Info-Organiser is proud to be looking beyond 2020 to the digital documentation of information using robotics processing and artificial intelligence. The Internet of Things is going to change the landscape yet again. The future will continue to define new ways to document knowledge and intelligent digital filing as a path to achieving this vision.