How Can Document Management Help Corporate Legal Teams? Part 2: Efficiency
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If “stretched thin” doesn’t even begin to cover how you feel, you might be in-house counsel. We get it: You face a barrage of competing demands as you work to serve both internal business clients and the legal needs of your organization.
Recently, we shared some of the specific ways that a document management system (DMS) can empower corporate legal teams to collaborate more effectively — as well as some of the benefits like strengthened understanding and improved business relationships.
But collaboration isn’t the only path to success (and relief) for in-house legal teams.
Increasing efficiency can change the tone (and perception) of corporate law departments — and it’s a core benefit of document management systems.
Why Does Efficiency Matter for In-House Legal Teams?
The answer might be obvious. After all, who doesn’t want to get more done, faster, and with less effort required?
But the fact is corporate legal departments don’t have control over their responsibilities and client lists the way that law firms do. They cannot say “no” to work (and when they do, they often end up taking heat for it). And even though outsourcing is sometimes an option, it’s not as though there's an endless budget for that either.
This is why ramping up efficiency is critical for forward-thinking General Counsel and legal operations leaders. So what are you supposed to do?
While it might not solve all your problems, a legal-focused DMS can help reduce the pressure on legal teams in a big way.
6 Ways a DMS Helps Increase Efficiency
With numerous responsibilities (and stakeholders) demanding the time and attention of corporate legal teams, how can a DMS help increase efficiency?
1. Your Single System of Record
When you need to get through an enormous task list, every minute counts. If you’re getting bogged down searching through file shares, instant messages, and desktop folders for that one file you could swear you opened just a few weeks ago… well, that’s not ideal. Nor is digging through email chains and hoping you found the right version of the document.
With a legal DMS, you have a single system of record that acts as your one source of truth, where you can keep your documents, emails, and discussions neat and organized in the way that makes sense to you — whether that’s matter-centric, by line of business, or project-based. This makes everything much easier to find. And with advanced version control, you can be confident that you have the most current version available.
2. Advanced Search
What if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for or where you need to look? Modern document management platforms leverage powerful enterprise search capabilities, as well as robust metadata, so you can quickly find what you need, when you need it.
What if you aren’t looking for a normal text document? That’s when capabilities like optical character recognition (OCR) come into play. OCR digitizes and indexes entire documents and images to ensure that every piece of content in the DMS is fully searchable.
3. Templates & Past Work
No one wants to reinvent the wheel — but if you don’t have an easy way to access previous work or create templates for common projects, you’ll probably end up doing the same work over and over again.
A legal DMS can help you avoid that by allowing you to create templates, not only for individual documents, but for entire workspaces and the folder structures that sit inside them. That’s at least one less administrative headache for legal to deal with.
4. Streamlined Communication
When you separate conversation from context, it’s more than a recipe for miscommunication — it’s an impediment to productivity. Not to mention, no one enjoys the ocular gymnastics of jumping back and forth between documents and comments and messages.
That’s why modern legal-focused document management platforms make it possible to communicate and collaborate within and alongside documents, so you always have the right documents and emails at your fingertips.
5. Anywhere Access
Legal work doesn’t always happen in the office. But whether you’re working from home or need a way to access your files on the way to a client meeting, cloud-based document management platforms make it possible for you to get work done anytime, anywhere, and on any device. It’s simple, convenient, and — most importantly — efficient.
6. Simplifying Tasks
Even the smallest tasks can create a significant backlog and hamper future productivity. Take email filing, for example — if you don’t manage it right away, pretty soon you have hundreds (if not thousands) of messages that need to be taken care of. And if they’re not saved within related project folders, you might not be able to find important information later down the road.
When document management joins forces with email management (and a little AI magic), you can leverage predictive filing to turn a multi-step process into a one-click wonder. And NetDocuments takes simplifying tasks even further with the ability to build customized workflows within workspaces to track team members’ activities and progress from one convenient location.
What are the Benefits of Increased Efficiency for Corporate Legal Teams?
While we hope that increasing efficiency enables corporate legal teams to take an occasional breather, the benefits of increased efficiency can be far greater and longer lasting.
Better Business Relationships
Because the legal department serves the organization as a whole and internal business clients, there are quite a few stakeholders to keep happy. Increasing efficiency can help the legal team respond to requests, say “yes!” more often, and be a more visible and strategic part of the business.
Less Time on Low-Value Tasks
Inefficient tools and processes leave legal teams mired in (and even burned out by) mundane administrative tasks. The thing is, why would you want your high-value team members spending time on tasks that anybody (or a computer) could do?
Effective document management tools reduce the amount of time legal teams have to spend on tedious tasks like organizing, searching, and filing, so they can spend more time focused on the high-value tasks that only they can do.
Less Need for Outsourcing
A recent Law Department Operations survey showed that 70% of law departments are actively trying to cut costs by bringing more work in house. But if your in-house team is already operating at capacity, that’s not an option — unless, of course, you find a way to drive greater efficiency, like with modern legal-focused document management tools.
Faster Delivery of Legal Services
This benefit might be obvious, but when you’ve got an enormous to-do list to take care of, time is of the essence. The more efficient your legal department can be, the faster you can deliver on requests from across the organization. (And the sooner legal can turn their focus to proactively driving business success!)
When You Can Stop Re-Inventing the Wheel. That’s Work Inspired.
Your legal department is full of competent professionals who could help guide your organization toward greater success, but their hands are often tied both by the inefficient technology available to them and specific compliance processes they must adhere to.
To succeed, your legal team requires tools that will draw them closer to their counterparts throughout the business while streamlining the detailed, critical steps of their work.
It’s time to arm your legal team with the technology of a legal-specific DMS like NetDocuments that will allow them to cut through the mundane and tackle projects that impact company success. It’s time to help your legal team step into the modern world where they can contribute truly inspired work.
Want to learn more? Read the corporate legal department’s Definitive Guide to Document Management.