Headspace by Greg Bray

Thoughts and observations of an often displaced Aussie, working to rid the professional world of paper - one page at a time - visit me at OzDox.com.au

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Key Criteria For A Document Management System

In the course of my career as a software consultant, I have spoken with literally thousands of legal professionals, from all different sizes of firms, and representing all different areas of practice. They approach me with one common goal: to get control of their bloody documents!
Whether represented by the piles of paper teetering on desks or in hallways around the office, or the brittle yellowing paper uselessly located at some offsite storage facility - or more often, the thousands of word processor documents chaotically filed on the firm's computer network. You need control of all this-and that’s where Worldox comes in.
They want control over these documents - to have them at their fingertips, for reference, searching, editing or copying. Documents are the tangible product of the firm, and are second only to the employees in their importance to the office.
Enter the Document Management System (DMS), loosely defined as a "computer system used to track and store electronic documents and images." Other industries call them CMS, ECM and Records Management Systems, but it's within the legal profession that we have truly realized the potential of these systems.
Based on my experiences, and those of my Affinity colleagues, there are certain features in a DMS that have become "must haves" for any firm: • Document Production: It must integrate with the user's desktop applications (MS Word, Word Perfect, Adobe Acrobat); • Email: the DMS must be able to save email messages into its system, and integrate with popular email clients (MS Outlook, Lotus Notes, GroupWise) ; • Scanning: It must interface with desktop and network scanning systems, and provide a paperless routing system of imaged documents; • Storage: store the documents in a safe and accessible location that is easy to backup or restore in the case of a disaster; • Searching: provide indexed searching of documents by matter, name or content; • Security: It must incorporate a security system that will lock down forms or remove user access to privileged documents; • Collaboration Features: Contain collaboration features that allow users to bundle documents together and create virtual links between documents; • Document Lifecycle: Offer document evolution features like versioning and archiving; and • Forced Compliance: Force all of the firm documents to be incorporated into its system - do not allow users to defeat the system by working outside its control.
If you search online, you will find hundreds of Document Management Systems offering to help you leverage the documents and images in your firm. But be warned, a large portion of these systems are merely online storage systems where you voluntarily upload documents to their storage servers.
Indeed, of all the products competing in this category, there are currently only 3 that offer the "must have" features detailed above: Worldox, Autonomy and OpenText.
Only one of those is specifically targeted to the budgets and technology typically seen in small to mid-sized law offices, which is why OzDox uses the Worldox platform as the basis for our DM Systems.

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