We see it time and time again: A law firm’s local file server has reached its end-of-life and has become a headache to maintain. So the firm looks to the cloud to modernize its file storage and document management. Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of that server and be able to access documents from anywhere?
A solution search often leads the firm to “public cloud” services like DropBox or Box. The firm transitions to one of these consumer-grade cloud storage services, only to find it woefully lacking in functionality, security, and reliability.
The Problem with Consumer-Grade Cloud Storage
Consumer-grade cloud storage services, such as DropBox, Google Drive or Box are designed for home and consumer use, not for businesses, and certainly not for the sophisticated needs of law firms. These products:
- Lack structure or workflow-centric organization. Rather, they become unorganized dumping grounds for files and folders, leaving organization to the discretion of each member of the firm.
- Lack security and compliance. Most services lack the document audit trails required by some compliance standards.
- Lack document management features beyond simple storage, including version management, indexing, search, metadata, and more.
- Attempt to sync data to each user’s computer. A fundamental problem with all of these services is they attempt to synchronize to each of your user’s computers. This works okay for a couple of people, but when you get to more than a few users, the synchronization becomes inefficient and inconsistent, leading to inconsistencies in data from one person’s computer to another.
- Many of those services are not accessible in the Mainland China area.
Consumer-grade services are great for personal use, quick-and-dirty storage, and sharing of files. (Even this author uses Google Drive for certain personal cloud storage needs.) But they are not robust, they don’t scale well, and they lack features required by most law firms.
Features of a True Document Management System
The term Document Management will vary a bit depending on whom you ask to define it. Some consumer-grade cloud storage services even self-describe their products as Document Management solutions. Semantics don’t matter–what matters is the functionality your law firm requires.
A true Document Management System, or DMS, will include:
- Workflow-centric document storage & management.
- Email management: Saving emails to a matter, just like any other document.
- Indexing & Search: Indexing is the key to quickly locating a specific document.
- Version Management: See, compare, and restore prior versions of a document.
- Lock/Un-lock: Checking-out a document prevents other users from modifying it while you are working on it.
- Document Profiling or Tagging: Tag or code documents as different types, such as contracts, letters, pleadings, and so forth.
- Alerts: Receive notifications when a specific event is updated or changed.
The conclusion: If your law firm needs any of these features, you need a true Document Management System.
Want to learn more about Cloud Document Management? Speak to a LegalX Practice Advisor today.