Nothing is more exasperating than sitting in traffic. Trust me, I have an hour and a half bumper-to-bumper commute each day! However, it is an unavoidable necessity. Manual file transfer, ranked just as frustrating by IT Pros in a recent survey, is just as stressful. The good news is that, unlike my commute, manual file transfer can be avoided.

A survey of more than 100 IT professionals to help identify the level of frustration experienced with manual file transfer processes within organisations found that an overwhelming number of IT professionals were weighed down by the stress of their approach to file transfer – 61 percent equated the process to sitting in traffic – while filing income tax returns and crashing Xbox consoles both followed closely behind with 10.7 percent.

Just as traffic jams keep drivers from getting where they need to be, manual file transfer processes limit IT professionals from managing higher priority projects. For example, 22 percent noted they would be able to provide internal customer assistance more quickly, whilst another 18 percent said they could be automating repetitive organisational tasks during this time. A further 35 percent cited lost productivity as a significant side effect of their file transfer processes, and nearly 32 percent had concerns over security and the potential for data loss.

IT departments’ frustration with manual file transfer operations is understandable. Not only is a manual approach inefficient, there is potential for data loss and continuous interruptions to IT projects. The resulting security concerns and lost productivity go far beyond just operator frustration. The adoption of automation into file transfer processes with a centralised, managed file transfer system would eliminate many of these issues and maintain efficiency across the organisation.

In a recent report on file transfer, Fran Howarth, senior analyst at Bloor, empathised the importance of having an efficient transfer process. She described the process as “paramount in order to encourage use and aid in productivity”. File transfer is so integral to the proper flow of business processes that it must be a high priority for any company. Yet, there are numerous problems with existing file transfer processes including:

  • Many files are sent without encryption
  • No way to quickly automate file transfer processes
  • IT cannot control the lifecycle of the transferred files
  • Lack of auditability for the file transfer process
  • Integration into other enterprise systems and processes
  • Some content is not archived in accordance with corporate policies
  • Chain-of-custody cannot be maintained for some content
  • Transferred files cannot be inspected by Data Loss Prevention systems.

This lack of control results in a greater likelihood of data breaches, lost files, and a breakdown of critical business process efficiency.

A More Efficient Way To Transfer Files

I once made the off-handed comment that our customers “do not move files for fun.” This might seem obvious, but what I was trying to get across is the idea that our customers use Managed File Transfer (MFT) as a way to move files between themselves and their partners in order to solve larger business challenges.

Moving files from point A to point B is never an end in itself. Rather, files get moved in the service of larger goals and processes that bind business partners together: Things like order-to-cash, insurance-claims adjudication, or content syndication, to name a few. At some point in each of these business processes, one or more files move between parties. In fact, that file transfer may be the critical bit of connective tissue that ties the parties together. But the story never ends there.

By using MFT software, your business will be able to support increased file transfer traffic and centralise unmanaged file transfers. It will also come with greater security benefits, a streamlined file transfer process and decrease the challenges faced by your IT department. Which can only be of benefit to your whole organisation.

So how does all this play out in the business world? There are some examples of how MFT can be of benefit to different organisations.

  • A large healthcare provider does business with a nationwide network of hospitals that deliver employee time card information as scan files, using an automated-delivery client. When the scans arrive, the MFT system responds by acknowledging the files, logging their arrival and other metadata, and then routing them to a records-management system to be processed. This can directly save time and can ensure the security of the files, which, within healthcare, is crucial.
  • An insurance company receives formal requests for claims information from outside partners, and responds by assembling content from an internal document-management system. When request files arrive, they are processed and interrogated, and data from the claims is used to retrieve the correct content from their document repository. The result is delivered back to the requester as a package assembled using an MFT system. In this example the process is more time efficient and the use of MFT ensures there is no ‘human error’ and this also makes the process cost effective.
  • A software services company utilises secure MFT in order to move large packages of sensitive files related to technical-support cases back and forth between technical support and end customers. The files could be database content (with sensitive patient data or social security numbers) or executables too large for other means of exchange. When files arrive, processing in the MFT solution connects them to support records to maintain the continuity of the support experience and history.

Every one of these examples involves the automated, integrated transfer of sensitive and large files between parties, as well as the handling and processing of these files to achieve some greater end. In the case of the healthcare provider, the files are routed directly to a backend system in a straight-through process.

In the case of the insurance company, the MFT system and the document repository interact with one another through APIs to automate and expedite a mission critical business process. In the case of the software services company, managed file transfer automation is used to intelligently deliver and integrate critical files for a technical support system. So, it’s time for some organisational change – out with the old and in with the new. And the good news for IT professionals is that unlike a traffic jam, the challenges of manual file transfer can be resolved.