Many law firms are embracing technology and moving from paper filing systems to technology-based solutions. However, simply purchasing a file server to store files and instructing employees to save documents to the server will not increase efficiency, accessibility or security. Although this is progress in an industry that has been paper heavy for decades, firms will benefit greatly from moving to a document management system.
I’ve helped law firms move to document management systems (DMS) for a variety of reasons. Regardless of what is driving your firm towards a new DMS, every firm is faced with the same situation: how do we determine the best DMS for our needs?
Based on my experience, these are the five most important areas of consideration when vetting your DMS options.
Usability typically measures a software’s efficiency and user friendliness. When it comes to DMS systems, controls are also a major usability factor. Using a file server instead of a DMS leaves structuring and naming your clients and matters up to each user’s discretion. What may work for one attorney may make little sense to other attorneys that need to collaborate on the same documents. A DMS that allows for structured client and matter naming restricts the storage of documents into a common, firm-wide schema so all firm members know how and where the documents are stored. Another quality of a DMS with exceptional usability is one with well-built search capabilites. The indexing that occurs with a DMS system allows you to search for documents not just by their file name but also by content, giving it a major advantage over a server file system.
Consider where your users are when they need to access their documents. In the legal industry, an increasing number of employees are working remotely, whether it’s one day a week, nights and weekends, or as full-time remote employees. For many on-premise and file server solutions, remote users are connecting to a workstation inside the firm to gain access to the documents they need. Conversely, for a firm that moves to a cloud-based solution, remote users are able to log in directly to the DMS. This option significantly simplifies access to data for remote employees.
Industry certifications such as ISO, SOC 2, NIST, FIPS,
HIPAA, and DFARS are in place to establish confidence that data is being stored
and moved in the most secure manners available. In addition to industry
certifications, many of the best DMS systems take security to another level, by
including measures like facility security, DMS employee training and background
checks, and two factor authentication. These additional security measures add
another layer of data protection from internal and external threats.
Integration with other apps
A DMS that offers add-on integrations with other software applications like Microsoft Office, email applications like Outlook and Gmail, and PDF editors such as Adobe Acrobat provide efficient ways to access and save documents. Some of these integrations are offered by third party providers which may mean additional costs but are often worth the gained efficiencies and ease of use. For example, for a firm that works heavily with government websites to file and download documents, a DMS with website integration is best so users can save directly to the DMS instead of a local machine.
The best way to implement your new DMS
Whether you are moving from a file server solution or from one DMS to another, you must consider how you will implement your new DMS. First, check the list of implementation partners with the DMS you are considering. Picking a partner that will go the extra mile to understand your current situation and design the best path to implementation can make all the difference for your firm. At LOGICFORCE, we work with several DMS providers with a variety of offerings to meet the specific needs of law firms. Our team has years of experience working with DMS providers that serve the legal industry. To learn more about migrating to a new DMS, get in touch with one of our experts now by requesting a call.
Kevin Hill is a project manager at LOGICFORCE. He has 11 years of experience implementing SAAS based solutions and specializes in hardware and software migrations.