These days, policy management software is a must-have for regulated businesses since their compliance burden is heavier than ever. A great example would be law firms and legal departments that keep on carrying heavy document consumer’s banners. Nowadays, to adhere to the paperless approach, legal professionals actively invested in content and document management solutions.
Law practitioners and law firms have increased their investment in content management systems, such as in particular SharePoint, and partnering with a SharePoint development company. Moreover, they also spend on more collaboration tools as well as legal project management solutions. Among the solutions available, SharePoint is favored by most since it handles document and project management, and collaboration extremely well.
Choosing the right architecture for a legal DMS
The bread and butter of your system is the architecture. It not just determines how employees work daily, but influences the long-term convenience of the solution as well, and the effort required to support the document management system in the future.
The first thing to do is to define the key role of the solution, depending on how you get legal services. An internal legal document management system could be implemented for your in-house legal department or for outsourced specialists, an external-facing portal. For support reasons and usability, building page templates for cases, matters, or customer profiles, and locating in one site collection is worthwhile.
Focus on the Legal DMS’ Critical Aspect
In a legal DMS, workflows are responsible for the accuracy of time, document, and therefore must work impeccably. When making a SharePoint legal document management system, organizations could use the five out-of-the-box workflows, as well as create custom ones. Furthermore, the workflows help specialists of the law to gather signatures of the parties involved, approve documents, or be on time during hearings and trials.
In a legal document management system, the search has exceptional relevance. When properly tuned, it helps legal pros look for people and relevant content fast. A badly functioning search on the other hand could cause a mess, which leads to critical delays in legal activities, and worst could lead to mistakes. Thus put special attention to metadata in the templates of SharePoint, as well as documents to they could be searched easily.
- Scanning Document
A must-have to transform paper docs to digital ones. By default, this isn’t available in SharePoint. However, a popular solution that a SharePoint developer could offer is to integrate the platform with an OCR, or Optical Character Recognition system to ascertain document digitization. With the integration, employees could scan docs and convert them into PDF files.
- Secure sharing of content
Another critical aspect of the SP document management. As legal specialists work with clients and colleagues, there should be high security ensured at both levels. Administrators of SharePoint must be vigilant on user permissions granted to third parties who access the system and should allow critical security controls to prevent breaches of data.
- Document management that’s mobile-enabled
To any legal department, mobile-enabled document management is a must. Since legal pros regularly visit customers and legal organizations, often they work in a remote setting.
Thus, it’s not a good idea to only enable a desktop legal document management app. A responsive mobile version or a different mobile app is mandatory for legal document management success.
Forego Unimportant Steps
Some of the things to skip include:
- Deliver complex solutions at once. Don’t attempt to develop a complex solution during the first iteration. The first legal DMS version could come up with minimum functionality. You could expand the solution later and add extra features.
- Making a sophisticated design. Even out-of-the-box design templates won’t work well for a legal DMS. Concentrate on tuning document management features rather than on the design.
- Chasing feature differences. Social features, multiple content management features, and gamification components are excessive to a legal DMS and could get users confused. Limit yourself to key features.
Addressing User-Related Issues
Some of the pitfalls and challenges to overcome include:
- Overcome emailing storehouses. Emailing will be among the biggest competitors. Don’t wait for employees to accept SharePoint suddenly. As usual, allow them to work in Outlook that’s SharePoint-integrated. This would show employees how they could leverage two systems, and then transfer them to a process that’s more SharePoint-centric.
- Combatting paper addiction. Among the biggest fans of paper are legal departments, thus winning their hearts with digitized document management could be difficult. Make the paperless process transition smooth by teaching employees how to use the SharePoint DMS slowly.
- Fitting the individual employees’ style of working. This could be critical for those hiring several attorneys who have their own style of working and may refuse managing activities within a single system. Consider making separate websites for attorneys to meet the requirements, and customize them in accordance with their tastes and requirements.
The Pros in using SharePoint
- You can build a solution tailored to your requirements
Turnkey solutions by default have legal-centered features, thus you need not spend on development time. The solutions logic may not fit into your processes, so rebuilding would cost more compared to partnering with SharePoint development services. With a custom SharePoint solution, you could create a legal DMS that is one-of-a-kind, with features that will cover your certain needs.
The prices of specialized solutions start at $40/month and could double or even triple. A SharePoint-based solution has various options. If you have a SharePoint on-premises already, you could build a legal DMS and pay only for customization costs. For the cloud, there’s the SharePoint Online that could range from $5-10 a month.
Office 365 comes at $35 per month. Thus, even if you spend more on the initial customization by hiring a SharePoint development company, the solution’ would be much lower than ready-made systems.
SharePoint is a terrific platform for your legal department or law firm document management solution. It simplifies the law life cycle, offering numerous OOTB features, which enable you to create a mature solution for a case, record management, matter, and, in general, document management.
Arya Roy is a Technology Analyst at Tatvasoft Australia – A leading Sharepoint development services in Australia, She has been working alongside SharePoint consultants and years in a Technological domain. Her research through various fields focuses extensively on digital interaction narratives.