Save Time and Streamline Document Processes with SmartView

Fred Levesque
Sep 1, 2020

Legal professional are now collaborating digitally (and remotely!) just as if they were together in person in a conference room. However, each Firm and team operate a bit differently than one another, all desiring to keep what currently works for their team – and apply it digitally – rather than having technology dictate how they should collaborate.

When it comes to document collaboration, the aforementioned conference room analogy becomes more difficult: the days of lawyers huddled over a stack of documents in a closing room, a deal room, or a team meeting seem long gone, but displaying a document on a big screen monitor in a conference room (or via a video call) is still commonplace.

And, given the current global climate, most lawyers, firms, teams, and organizations are seeing in-person meetings remain out of the question – making digital collaboration even more central to day-to-day life.

There are three typical methods of how teams collaborate digitally today.

  1. Sequential check outs. In some organizations, a draft document is created where multiple people edit it by checking it out sequentially. Once everyone has reviewed, a meeting will be called to finalize.
  2. Real-time collaboration. Some teams prefer to use real-time collaboration where the document is open in a browser where all teammates log on, edit, and comment away, often colliding over specific clauses until a final version starts to appear. Many teams accomplish real-time collaboration by opening documents in WordOnline from their document management system (DMS), or they upload documents to a shared drive (e.g. Google, NetDocuments workspace, OneDrive, Dropbox Paper, Box, etc.) and send a notice to the team to edit/review.
  3. Email with a ‘version control’ point of contact. Another collaboration method, and the one we will discuss at length, is version control. Users will send an email to a group, request feedback or revisions, and one person is responsible to harvest and synthesize feedback into a coherent end product.

The third method was largely adopted in order to allow discussion of a document while protecting the core content from unapproved changes. While this method makes it possible for digital conversations to center around a document, it is excellent at creating long, convoluted, and often confusing email threads which must be meticulously read side-by-side with the document in order to truly grasp the purpose of the dialogue.

This disorganized feedback often introduces room for confusion, ambiguity, and inefficiency in addition to increased room for error and misinterpretation of feedback. In essence, this is the difference between talking about a document versus discussing pieces of a document in context, which is akin to talking through a document.

Eliminating Confusion and Minimizing Room for Error with SmartView

At NetDocuments, we’re fans of creating simple solutions to the everyday user’s challenges. Working with knowledge workers from various industries, we are proud to release SmartView, a new way to save time by streamlining your document processes.

SmartView goes beyond the ability to preview a document and allows document insights to be available at first glance. It simplifies document reviews by making it easy to quickly preview, annotate, and mark up documents without ever needing to download the files to your desktop. And, with SmartView, you can use Margin Notes to annotate files with your colleagues in real-time, and take advantage of findings to quickly navigate through people, places, companies, and more.

With margin notes, multiple users can have discussions about a document, suggest and resolve comments, reply to each other’s comments all in context of the document. And this is what it means to truly talk through a document. It’s when the entire team can see what the comments, opinions, suggestions, and discussions refer to visually within the document, instead of indirectly via vague references. It reduces confusion or miscommunication, allowing teams to truly visualize the conversations they were previously having in email geographically within the document.

Thanks to SmartView, teams can now work digitally, just as they would sitting in a room discussing one document, marking up the content, discussing specific sections and sentences as if they were all working on one sheet of paper. The conversation and the edits do not have to happen in succession, but can now happen simultaneously, in real-time, without affecting the underlying text. Margin Notes act as an overlay on the documents and do not change the document text or properties, allowing teams that work in this way a single source of truth with less room for error, misinterpretation, or confusion.

The push to alleviate the stresses and bottlenecks that are caused by digital and remote collaboration are what drive us at NetDocuments to come up with technological solutions that are not only easy to use and effective but that can be assimilated into our customers’ day to day lives. Margin Notes are a great example of what can happen when we listen to our customers and understand their pain points. With remote working and asynchronous collaboration becoming the norm, creating innovative ways for teams to collaborate on the fly, in context with little risk for misinterpretation or confusion will have to take center stage.  

To learn more about SmartView, included with the NetDocuments PLAN solution, schedule a demo today.

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