Government pulls funding for energy efficiency ‘Green Deal’ scheme

Government pulls funding for energy efficiency ‘Green Deal’ scheme

The Government has scrapped its failed flagship energy efficiency programme, the Green Deal, pulling its funding and announcing an investigation into alleged scams that have surrounded the scheme.

Launched in 2013, the Green Deal was touted as a “revolution” in upgrading Britain’s old and draughty housing stock, designed to encourage millions of households to take out loans to install insulation and new boilers. But, with less than 10,000 loans in place, ministers pulled the plug and acknowledged the scheme would be seen as a “total flop”.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said it would provide no further Government funding for the Green Deal Finance Company, which provides the loans, “in light of low take-up and concerns about industry standards”. It had so far provided £59 million to the company.

Decc has also commissioned an independent review to look at standards and “consumer protection”, following widespread reports of scammers hijacking the scheme to rip off households, and one in ten installers being struck off for breaking the scheme’s code of conduct.

There will also be no more funding for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund cash back scheme, which launched in mid-2014 and gave households money back on home energy efficiency improvements.

Unlike the loans, the cash back scheme proved hugely popular with consumers who cleared out funding within days of it being released. Decc had given away £114 million of funding through the scheme, which had been criticised as poor value for money.

Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, said: “We are on the side of hardworking families and businesses – which is why we cannot continue to fund the Green Deal. It’s now time for the building industry and consumer groups to work with us to make new policy and build a system that works. Together we can achieve this Government’s ambition to make homes warmer and drive down bills for 1 million more homes by 2020 – and to do so at the best value for money for taxpayers.”

Under the original Green Deal scheme, households were encouraged to take out a loan to fund the cost of energy efficiency work, with the loans paid back in instalments on their energy bills. The repayments were supposed to be less than the savings from the energy efficiency work. But the scheme has suffered from low take-up amid concerns about high interest rates and official rulings by the advertising watchdog which pointed out households were not guaranteed to save money.

Greg Barker, then energy minister, said after the scheme’s launch that he would be having sleepless nights if 10,000 homes had not signed up by the end of 2013. Figures released show that by the end of June 2015 there were still just 9,999 Green Deal loan plans ‘live’, with a further 5,597 pending or applied for.

In a blog post explaining the decision, the Decc acknowledged people would ask: “Has the Green Deal been a total flop?” Its response noted there had been “many success stories come out of Green Deal” but that “uptake has been lower than expected”.

The announcement does not affect existing Green Deal plans taken out by householders or existing Green Deal Home Improvement Fund applications and vouchers, Decc said.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

 

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10 Top Tips for Buying a Document Management System

10 Top Tips for Buying a Document Management System

The paperless office has moved beyond the metal filing cabinet, and now your business needs a platform for managing your digital documents. A document management system (DMS) can organise, store, and track changes in your electronic records. The right DMS will integrate with your current systems to maximise workflow and collaboration. Not all document management systems are created equal, so before you rush to purchase one, first consider the following:

1. Determine Your Specific Document Management Needs

You can’t buy the right tool unless you know what you’re trying to fix. While it’s tempting to throw technology at an issue, take the time to assess your organisation’s specific document management needs. Start by making a list of current issues, and engage your staff in this process so that you can target a solution that will actually work for them. Note the various software applications you’d like to integrate with your document management system. Factor in your firm’s projected growth areas so that your new DMS can handle future challenges.

2. Look for a Simple, Straightforward User Interface

Your system should offer an intuitive user interface (UI) that your staff can easily navigate. A powerful software platform with a confusing UI will only frustrate employees. Look for a system that’s simple and efficient, with clear commands and a clean visual design. After initial training, your staff shouldn’t have to constantly refer to a user manual to access your DMS. Designate a few “power users” on your team who can master the UI and share tips and tricks on getting the most out of your new system.

3. Select a DMS with Full Integration Capabilities

Your DMS needs to integrate fully with your current software systems so that you won’t have to hop between applications to complete daily tasks. Make sure your new software can “talk to” your other programs.

4. Manage Workflow

A document management system is far more than a digital filing cabinet. The best ones also act as workflow management systems, keeping your projects moving forward smoothly. Choose a DMS with project management features that meet your organisation’s specific needs. Make sure the platform also includes sufficient scalability for your business, so that your software can adapt to your company’s growth.

5. Focus on Collaboration

With more staff working off site, your system should enable users to collaborate seamlessly. Your employees need to access files simultaneously without having to log out, and they need to track revisions and document versions in detail. Make sure that the system you implement catalogues all changes, and that it lists document versions in a logical order so that your team can reference previous instances quickly.

6. Capture Data Intelligently

The right document management system will capture your data from a variety of input devices. Once your documents have been scanned, the system should intelligently extract and validate the data in the files. The software will then tag and categorize materials for fast retrieval through an easy-to-use search engine, conserving your staff’s time and increasing productivity. While many DMS options claim to offer intelligent data capture, not all deliver. Work closely with your supplier to make sure that the product you select can actually interpret your data correctly.

7. Prioritise Security

Recent data breaches have underscored the importance of guarding your business intelligence. Protect your corporate and client information with a system that includes rigorous security protocols designed to block external attacks. Reputable software suppliers will stress security as a key feature of their products. Remember that you’ll need to constantly monitor and update security levels to address evolving threats.

8. Choose Software with Administrative Control Features

In addition to external threats, you must also protect your data from within by using software that provides administrative control options. Set user permissions that are tailored to the needs and responsibilities of each staff member. Some employees will simply require read-only access, while others will need expanded authorisation to move and delete files. Work with your team to refine permissions, and develop standard “permissions profiles” that you can reference when taking on new staff. Add flexibility with temporary permissions for staff working on short-term projects.

9. Verify Support Options

Look for a supplier that can provide superior product support, preferably in a number of formats (such as telephone, email, and online chat options). Before purchasing your document management system, ask your supplier about turnaround times for support requests.

10. Back It Up

No matter how large or small your business, you can’t afford to lose your documents and data. Always choose a product that offers constant backups on secure servers. Your document management system’s backup capabilities should form part of a larger disaster recovery plan for your organisation.

The Bottom Line

Selecting the right document management system can be a challenge. Take control of your search by first understanding your needs and the available software options. Choose a reputable supplier with a proven product, insist on security, back up your data, and your document management system will provide significant return on your investment.

Source: Tim Eisenhauer, Axero

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Is Document Management on your ‘must-have’ list?

Is Document Management on your ‘must-have’ list?

Speedy access to critical information separates the winners from the losers in today’s information economy. And just as everyone organises their documents in some way or another – even if it’s a ‘home made’ naming convention of always including the client name or a keyword – then, everyone who is not using document management software spends far too much time looking for “lost” documents or trying to work out which is the most recent version.

We would like to think that DM has finally gained full acceptance in the business world; but the truth is that some businesses still remain stubbornly unconvinced despite the facts and figures that support the business case.

Why Wouldn’t You?

According to Deutsche Bank and Gartner research, no less than 95% of the 30 billion invoices processed across Europe in the year 2010 were still done so in a way that involved manual data entry. Think about that for a minute – that’s over 28 billion invoices still being moved around from person to person, desk to desk, sometimes with as many as 10 steps to complete the whole process. The truth here is that manual processing can push the cost of processing that invoice by a factor of 20 over doing it electronically. That equates to £80,000 for 20,000 invoices at £4 each (done manually) versus the much lower £4,000 if they were done electronically (so at 20p each). And 20,000 invoices isn’t really a lot if you are a multinational.

Another statistic has it that the average office worker in the UK uses 15,000 sheets of paper every year with a cost implication of approximately £170 per person. At roughly 10 million UK office workers, that amounts to nearly £2 billion pounds being spent on possibly unnecessary paper.

A 2012 IDC report (‘The High Cost of Not Finding Information’) found that information workers spent up to 20% of their time filing and searching through paper documents. On top of that, they wasted over 10 hours a week searching for, but not finding, documents, recreating lost documents and other time-consuming tasks. IDC has gone so far as to cost out three scenarios – Time Wasted Search, Cost of Reworking Information and Opportunity Costs To the Enterprise – that can help companies estimate the cost of not finding information and the productivity gains that can be achieved when they do. Using these three scenarios, IDC estimated that an enterprise employing 1,000 knowledge workers wastes at least $2.5 to $3.5 million per year searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, or recreating information that can’t be found. The opportunity cost to the enterprise is even greater, with potential additional revenue exceeding $15 million annually.

Plans, ideas, and thought processes have to be reinvented and recreated because an original document cannot be located and retrieved or – as sometimes happens when people retire or move on – other people are unaware of its existence. These figures, and many more like them, can all be attributed to the problems inherent in hardcopy document management – problems that have been known about for a long time.

This is something that should concern everyone in business, as despite all the cheerful headlines about a recovering UK economy, most businesses are still not increasing their spending – which means that money spent carelessly like this if there really is no need is not really on.

‘Must-Have’ List

There is no room, then, for complacency. Until DM software is on everybody’s ‘must-have’ list, there is still work to be done. The DM market is still a very healthy one and there is great scope for selling more of the sector’s wares. But unless we start working with customers – new and old, frankly – on the need to get the efficiency beyond the Finance office to the rest of the office, making the internal handling of the payment cycle a much slicker process and close out the situation where invoices can spend three quarters of their time in a company doing nothing, then we don’t have time to relax.

Source: Document Manager

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Lexmark completes Kofax acquisition

Lexmark completes Kofax acquisition

Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish to be president of Lexmark’s Enterprise Software division

Lexmark has acquired Kofax in a cash transaction for $11.00 per share, for a total enterprise value of approximately $1 billion. This acquisition will nearly double the size of Lexmark’s Enterprise Software annualised revenue to approximately $700 million. Lexmark also announced that Scott Coons, president of Lexmark’s Enterprise Software, has decided to retire, effective at the end of July 2015. Coons has successfully led Lexmark’s software division since the company acquired Perceptive Software in 2010. During Coons’ tenure, Lexmark’s Enterprise Software expanded from its enterprise content management software roots into process, capture and search technologies, and significantly strengthened the company’s industry-focused solutions. Coons helped expand the Enterprise Software team’s international footprint through organic sales investment and acquisitions. Coons will assist in the leadership transition until his retirement date.

Effective immediately, Reynolds C. Bish, CEO of Kofax, succeeds Coons as president of Lexmark’s Enterprise Software. Bish will also be a Lexmark vice president and report directly to Paul Rooke, Lexmark chairman and chief executive officer. Bish has been active in enterprise software markets for more than 20 years. He has successfully led Kofax since 2007. Prior to Kofax, Bish co-founded Captiva Software Corporation and served as its president and chief executive officer from 1989 until its acquisition in 2005.

“Scott’s career in enterprise software has been truly extraordinary. He successfully led Perceptive Software from a small startup to one of Kansas City’s hottest companies and one of the industry’s leading enterprise content software providers. Our acquisition of Perceptive Software truly changed Lexmark, helping to grow and position us as a leader in managing unstructured print and digital information,” said Paul Rooke, Lexmark chairman and chief executive officer. “Scott’s thoughtful and insightful leadership has been key throughout Lexmark’s Enterprise Software evolution. His passion for the technology, and for attracting, developing and retaining a deep and diverse group of talented employees, will be the hallmarks of his career. We wish Scott the best of luck in his retirement.”

“We have tremendous confidence in the future of our Enterprise Software business under Reynolds – a testament to his proven leadership abilities and career success. His considerable experience in building and operating global businesses is a harbinger of future growth and expansion for Lexmark’s Enterprise Software,” added Rooke.

Source: Document Manager

 

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7 Major Benefits of Cloud Storage for Small Businesses

7 Major Benefits of Cloud Storage for Small Businesses

Over recent years, the world has seen a massive rise in the number of small businesses and startups. While this is a positive trend in many ways, it does bring its own set of challenges with it.

These days, almost every business is heavily dependent on technology and global connectivity. As a result data security, confidentiality and accessibility are some of the major challenges that small businesses are facing today. Effective use of data, in an increasingly connected business environment, has also become an important need. Fortunately, the rise in these challenges has given way to innovative solutions as well. As a result, services like cloud storage have become some of the most sought after business needs. Cloud storage services take away the burden of data management from their customers’ hard drives and places the data into secure, well-managed and highly connected storage devices.

Here are 7 major benefits of cloud storage for small businesses.

1. Foolproof Data Security 

As a small business, you do not have the luxury of investing thousands of pounds in securing your data. But you can still protect it with cloud storage services. Leading cloud storage companies take several security measures to ensure that your data remains perfectly safe. Here are a few of them:

  • All the data is maintained in your cloud storage in encrypted form that can only be accessed with a unique encryption Id.
  • Regular virus scans and security checks are run on your data to eradicate any potential threats.
  • Multiple security layers are implemented on your data to ensure that only you and your authorised users can gain access to the it.

 
2. Regular Data Backups 

One of the most common reasons for data losses, is the unavailability of a properly managed data backup system. By using a cloud storage service, you eliminate the need of managing backups of your data. Your local storage is directly connected with the cloud service where multiple backups of your data are created at different locations that are completely synced with each other. The moment you make any changes to your data, it is reflected in the backup storage as well.

3. Consistency and Reliability 

When not protected properly, access to your data can be affected in a number of ways including power failure, internet connectivity issues, natural disasters. Cloud storage services take all these threats away from your data and make it extremely reliable and consistently available for you. Your data is saved at multiple highly secured locations. So there’s no threat of any power failures or natural disasters to all of them at the same time.

4. Global Data Connectivity 

Many small businesses work with remote teams that need to access data from a centralised location. Cloud storage services give you the ability to grant access to as many users as possible anywhere in the world. You can also manage data rights for different users to ensure proper security. All the changes that are made to the data are completely synced together, giving you the most up to date version of your data. This, of course is a major advantage that you cannot get from your own storage device.

5. Enhanced Accessibility

Unlike local storage devices, cloud storage services can be accessed from anywhere in the world using a number of different devices. Apart from the regular PC, you can also directly access your cloud data with your smartphone and tablets. So unlike local storage, if you need to access a particular piece of data from your smartphone, you do not need to carry it with you all the time. You can simply access it whenever you need and delete it from your smartphone storage as soon as your need is fulfilled.

6. Reduced Infrastructure Cost

Managing a data backup system requires huge investments both in terms of man power and technology. Backup systems also demand additional energy costs as they need to run round the clock. However, by using a cloud storage service, you get rid of a number of infrastructure needs as well. You do not need to employ dedicated professionals to look after your data security and management. You also don’t need to spend extra money on computers and backup servers to store your data. All this can lead to substantial cost savings in the long run and add to the overall profitability of your business.

7. Environmentally Friendly Impact

A strong reason for using the modern cloud based storage services is the positive impact that they have on the environment. Many leading cloud storage companies intentionally employ environment friendly power generation methods for their storage units. Environment friendliness is one of their major considerations while making purchases for their infrastructure as well. Moreover, when you shift your local storage to a cloud service, you effectively save tons of energy that would’ve been consumed throughout the year. When you apply this scenario to hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of cloud storage clients, you can naturally understand the positive impact it will have on the overall environment through reduced power consumption and efficient energy usage.

 

Cloud storage has become an essential need of small businesses in today’s fast moving business environment. As a business owner, you should look to invest your energies on your most productive activities.

Why not consider making the transition from hard copy to electronic storage of documents, and let our cloud-based intelligent document management solution take care of your data. 

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