Identifying the Ideal DMS
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Identifying the Ideal DMS

Judi Flournoy, CIO, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

The Role of DM

There are few systems in the business environment that have as much potential to be either disruptive or enabling as Document Management (DM). Considering where DM started compared to where businesses are today it is no wonder that so many firms find themselves stuck between the past and the future. DM platforms were created to provide organization the security for content authored in word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software. The need to store, secure, provide unique naming and numbering as well as a find and retrieve mechanism drove industries like legal to adopt DM as a primary business application.

As business and technology have evolved and the need for security has become critical, the role of DM or as some might now think of it, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is pushing beyond the initial requirements for storing, securing, finding and retrieving.

  ​The key is to be open to innovation but not simply because there’s some new shinny technology but because of the potential positive impact to the business  

Newer ECM/DM platforms are providing a richer and dynamic experience as the content stored within the platform is organized and presented in a more intuitive manner. From one interface, the browser, the document author or editor can easily identify content by type, such as agreement and in legal by client or matter. Organizing content in this way makes the process of locating and reusing know-how quicker and more efficient which in turn drives down the cost of authoring. Legal documents can be in hundreds of pages and often many versions. Tied to current state-of-the-art ECM/DM platforms is better search which harnesses the ability to dive into and discover content based not only upon metadata, e.g., author, but more faceted aspects such as industry, jurisdiction, and area of law.

Clients of law firms expect their outside counsel to represent them in a manner that not only addresses the needs of the moment but also the more nuanced aspects of the engagement. These aspects include leveraging existing expertise and knowledge, adhering to best practices with respect to efficient use of time and insuring absolute client confidentiality by utilizing sound security principles.

Making the decision to adopt a more forward looking platform and one that will evolve more quickly is what makes a cloud based ECM/DM platform the best choice as the burden of maintaining the infrastructure no longer belongs to the firm but to the ECM/DM vendor. Similarly the security that a cloud based ECM/DM vendor can provide may be substantially better than an on premise deployment.

The opportunity for the leadership team is to identify the business value in transitioning from the traditional DM platform within the organization. This can be done by providing a combination of case study, client references, product demonstration, and cost analysis. In the end, there may be those who will be concerned with security of a cloud based platform. In those instances, a thorough evaluation of the existing on premise platform and the security in place should be fairly evaluated against the cloud based ECM/DM. In majority of cases, the cloud based ECM/DM platform, particularly one that is well established will be able to clearly demonstrate the extensive array of security and risk components that should mitigate any business concern.

They Key to Effectively Managing IT Organizations

I have been in a leadership role now for over 30 years during which time I have been at the forefront of evaluating newer technologies and in several cases implementing those newer technologies ahead of where many of my peer’s firms were.

In hindsight, there were a few that were wonderfully successful and met the needs of the business. Quite frankly there were a few that didn’t. From my perspective the key is to be open to innovation but not simply because there’s some new shinny technology but because of the potential positive impact to the business. One of the very important lessons I learned, the hard way, is to be certain to socialize change and to invite both—those who are detractors and supporters—into the tent. Forming a project specific task force or a topic or functional based committee that might be focused on one particular area has been instrumental in how well new processes or platforms are adopted. Finding champions across the enterprise who are representative of every role and including them in the conversation will break down potential areas of resistance. Change is never easy, we humans often like things as they are no matter how bad they may be. I am eternally optimistic and curious and with that I think convey the opportunity for change as something not to be feared. In the words of James Stephens, “curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.”



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