The Fatal Flaw in Manual Systems

The following is an adapted excerpt from Worldox in One Hour for Lawyers.

Any manual or store-and-forward system for managing documents has fundamental weaknesses and limitations. First, it is difficult to impossible to guarantee that all your electronic data—such as faxes, emails and scans—are stored properly. Second, such repositories are searchable only in very limited ways. For example, you can’t use Boolean operators to search for all the pleadings done from six months to a year ago that contain certain language.

But aside from these systems’ weaknesses and limitations, the fatal flaw in all of them is reliance on people to follow the prime directives faithfully. In addition to staff or lawyers who “can’t be bothered” or are “too busy” to put things in the right place, there is human error and procedures for scans or emails that are incompletely defined or not defined at all.

Worldox helps prevent these failures, and the search function compensates for them if they do occur. The losses inherent in this kind of setup are considerable: the time it takes to find something; misplaced files; not being able to locate that old contract that had just the language needed for a new one; retyping missing documents. The turning point in favor of a document management system at one firm that implemented Worldox came when, for the nth time, the office manager had to spend hours searching for a “lost” directory that had been dragged and dropped who knows where.

A common work-around is to have computer shortcuts to some of your most frequently used forms and documents. When I go into a firm and see someone’s computer with a dozen or more shortcuts to specific forms or documents on the desktop, I know the person is making a valiant effort to fight chaos. But this should not be an individual responsibility.

What Worldox Will Do for Your Firm

Worldox is the traffic cop on your information highway. It organizes, stores, and retrieves all your electronic data. All documents and the “profiles” describing them are full-text indexed with advanced searching capabilities. Thus document management is a standardizing and centralizing force that maximizes the efficiency of your system. Worldox also enhances your firm’s ability to meet regulatory compliance and e-discovery requirements, which may become increasingly important.

Most significant is the fact that Worldox has its own enforcement mechanism: staff and lawyers have no choice but to work with the DMS, whether they are using word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, PDF files, scans, or emails. Firms sometimes want to implement Worldox for occasional use. But Worldox is an all-or-nothing proposition. It is a little bit like a pregnant woman: she cannot choose to be pregnant only on Mondays and Thursdays.

A number of practice management programs with document management features and other document management programs (such as SharePoint, laserfiche, M-files, or NetDocuments) are “store and forward”—users are not obliged to use them. This means that the integrity of the data store is compromised: the firm cannot guarantee that all its files are stored within the DMS. This can be very expensive when it comes to discovery issues or when trying to be absolutely certain that documents can be located internally.

Get Organized With Worldox
This post was adapted from the Law Practice Division’s publication Worldox in One Hour for Lawyers. In this book, author John Heckman reveals what Worldox will do for your firm—and how to customize its features for the specific needs of your practice.

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