A DMS is not just a file storage area to place documents. A DMS is not Dropbox or a shared network drive. A good DMS helps law firms organise, annotate, search, retrieve and share documents.
There are many Document Management Systems on the market, however for the legal professional, look for one that is ‘matter-centric’. Some law firms purchase a legal software solution that does not include an in-built DMS, usually they find their documents are scattered across several disjointed applications. For example, case documentation in a legal software, documents on a network drive, email in Outlook & invoices in accounting software. Not to mention the inherent risk that these disparate sources of information present. An integrated DMS with your legal practice management software means that everything related to a matter or client is all organised in the one place.
A side benefit of an electronic Document Management System is the ability to take your law firm paperless. Going paperless saves money! Not only that, you save on office space, save on Administration and IT Costs and save on time spent searching through hardcopy documents.
When evaluating a legal practice management system with an in-built DMS, make sure to ask the vendor if it includes the following:
- Matter Centric
- Email Management (Outlook Integration)
- Microsoft Office Integration
- Version Control
- Check in/Check Out
- Electronic Mailroom (Scan & Fax Integration including OCR)
- Notes & Precis
- Fast Indexing & Relevance Based Searching
- Referrals (author collaboration without email)
- Cabinets (ability to collate, sort & export documents e.g. Electronic Briefs)
- Document previewer
- Thorough Audit Trail
- Secure Access Management
As you can see a good DMS is much more than just a file storage system. It is crucial to the success of a modern day law firm. If your DMS does not include most of the above mentioned features, then perhaps it is time to consider a legal practice management software with a fully integrated & in-built document management system.