Most of us have been to some sort of live event – concert, play, a game, or a race – we don’t often think about it but we know that a ton of preparation and behind the scenes work went into making that event run smoothly.
That’s the importance of your job as an office manager – keeping the firm operational and running smoothly. When you’re sorting through invoices, ensuring lawyers have all the information they need, and dealing with all the details and tasks in between, having to deal with manual processes is the last thing you need.
You’re flooded with paper.
With multiple people on the team needing to use the same files, you have to make – and keep up-to-date – all of the documents contained in those files. And when there are case files piled on lawyers’ desks, chairs, cabinets, and floors, it can be a tad overwhelming.
There are better ways to spend your day than making copies of documents that your attorneys could be working on electronically.
So, as you stand at the copier making five versions of the same document so everyone who needs a copy can have one, here are some arguments for you to use to digitize and automate your law firm.
Obviously, the fewer documents you print, the fewer dollars you spend (and the kinder you are to the environment). Over time, unnecessarily copying and printing documents will slice away at your firm’s margins – automation will help prevent pointless printing.
Go Home – Or Anywhere Else You Want to Go
Lawyers work long hours. Unfortunately, when the information and case files they need are only available on a paper document, leaving the office and working somewhere else isn’t much of an option – unless they want to lug around bankers’ boxes.
Digitize those case files and those documents can be available anywhere, a laptop (or tablet, and sometimes your phone).
So they don’t have to be tied to their desks. They can, go home, or to a coffee shop, or to a cabin in the woods, or a beach. When you digitize paperwork and automate processes – like e-filing – their paperwork can travel with them.
You don’t want to search; you want to find. Which would you rather look through:
A – a teetering pyramid of paper on your desk?
B – use a keyboard and a mouse click in a search box on your computer?
Option A means lots of looking. Option B means lots of finding – and then working.
Enhanced Document Control and Security
Never worry about editing the wrong brief again.
For case files and documents managed by an electronic document management system, you have the advantage of having a single, centralized location for the official versions of all of your documents.
Which also means improved security. With a single location, audit trails keep track of who accesses documents and there’s no longer the risk of confidential information escaping the office as partners exchange multiple versions of the same document over email.
Dollars and Cents
Saving time and making life easier are great benefits of automation. Getting a solid ROI from an IT investment is even better.
From a technology perspective, there are three pieces of technology that are important to include in a less paper and document automation initiative:
- Document capture – to turn paper documents into electronic versions of themselves
- Document management – to securely store documents for retrieval and later archival
- Workflow – to move the documents from person to person
You can NEVER just throw technology at a business problem and expect it to be fixed – no matter if it’s a copier or cutting-edge business intelligence tools. However, when implemented with an understanding of real business needs, each of these technologies is mature and has a strong record of return on investment.
Focused on companies who invested in paper-free projects (using technologies like document capture, document management, and workflow), AIIM research shows impressive ROI returns:
“84% of users report ROIs from paper-free projects of 18 months or less – 59% within 12 months. The biggest benefits are faster customer response, improved productivity, and better compliance.”It’s time to consider automation or at least less-paper workflows. Unless you’d like to keep collating paper documents – that’s a great use of your time.