Top Tips for Getting Your Document Management Implementation Right

Project Implementation

Top Tips for Getting Your Project Implementation Right

When it comes to document management, today most law firms agree it’s something worth doing but there are still challenges and frustrations that can be blockers. What are the determiners for success?

Experienced consultant Tony Feynbrook shares some top tips around getting the most from a document management implementation.

In my experience, working with clients to articulate their document management frustrations there’s a pattern. There’s a dominant theme; managing a document management system (DMS) is too onerous and difficult, so it’s put off.  Beyond vendor choice, the implementation approach is the next key determiner for success. What are the things to consider once you’ve decided to move?  Here are some of my top tips for meeting the challenges and reaping the benefits:

 

Scope and operations

Choose carefully. Take a good look at what’s out there. What options might help unblock resistance – will cloud bring easier management? What platforms have the most appropriate features, and what vendors are evolving in a direction that suits your firm? 

A new system obviously means you will need new skills and procedures.  Working in the Cloud means everyone is on the same platform and of course that has pros and cons, what it does mean is that whatever your geography, size or specialism you will benefit in the same way and at exactly the same time as everyone else. There’s no option but to stay up to date, the platform will evolve and you enjoy this as a matter of course. Mandatory updates will come along and you need to consider who in your organisation will be responsible and ready for this.

Make sure you know how much it’s going to cost. This sounds basic but it’s often skipped. You need to assess and fix a budget so you can plan. A discovery process can be helpful here – as that enables pretty accurate quote and provides an initial experience of the system.

 

Integration and migration – moving those files

Ahead of the implementation preparation is key – make sure you understand what already exists, what integrations already happen. Consider what needs replicating and crucially what’s missing and what might not be worth saving.   That’s already some serious housekeeping but for the best results, you need to put the effort in. Find anomalies and problem cases early. Maybe there’s no metadata, a trend of misfiling, significant duplication. Once found these issues can be dealt with easily and in a way that suits your firm. You can make informed decisions around migration protocols. Will you just migrate everything – for me, that’s like moving house without clearing out the cupboards or removing clothes that don’t fit.  Duplication is probably the biggest issue we find – it’s certainly worth working on this, reducing your storage need and deciding on the rules for which version will win etc. Some document will be very old, we’ve found firms with significant documents from the late 1990s. Engage your risk team, assess the protocols and rules you want to have in place for keeping and managing data now and going forward. 

 

Project and change management

Make sure your implementation is a partnership with your vendor and implementer.  This approach means sharing responsibility for problem-solving and making things a success. It’s the only way this kind of change can work. 

Any change and especially adopting new technology brings challenges. I think it’s fair to say that legal is one of the more change-resistant sectors, most law firms are inherently change-resistant. For a successful user adoption and deployment strategy you need to use communications expertly and as a powerful tool to help make the change a success. Lead from the top, talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it, illustrate the ‘so what’ factors – for both the firm and the individuals. Be collaborative rather than dogmatic.   

Then when the time comes for go-live will you go for a big bang approach – where all users go live at once, a big reveal? Ripping the plaster off requires careful planning around support. Initiatives like the provision of library resources for self-service and lots of floor walking and hand holding can make all the difference. The other option is a phased approach, piloting with a team that you can learn from and use a champion when the rest of the firm goes live?   Either way, for big implementations you might want to create champions and even get temporary ‘expert’ users in to help make things run smoothly.

By addressing these areas you’ll overcome the challenges moving to a DMS brings move straight to capitalising on the opportunity for improvement it provides.

NetDocuments

NetDocuments is a cloud-based, legal technology services solution offering state-of-the-art machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities. NetDocuments enables 2,500+ global customers with a single, scalable cloud-based platform for securing and collaborating on documents, emails and real-time conversations.

 

NetDocuments is a cloud-based, legal technology services solution offering state-of-the-art machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities. NetDocuments enables 2,500+ global customers with a single, scalable cloud-based platform for securing and collaborating on documents, emails and real-time conversations.

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