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Practice Management

10 Benefits of Integrated Practice Management And Document Management

Team Litify
Practice Management

10 Benefits of Integrated Practice Management And Document Management

Team Litify

Individually, legal practice management and document management platforms offer substantial benefits for midsize law firms. But believe it or not, these two systems are better when connected and used together. Here are some ways integrated practice and document management can benefit your firm.

1. Get the information you need quickly

When you really stop to think about it, how much time do you and your team spend just looking for files, emails, and documents each day? A few minutes here or there may seem insignificant, but they break your flow and add up quickly. In fact, it’s not uncommon for knowledge workers to spend upward of 30 minutes per day simply locating the documents they need to work on. The time spent looking for emails or sifting through duplicate documents and multiple versions is likely even higher.

On the other hand, document management systems can dramatically reduce search time and increase productivity. With configurable Home pages, Recent, and Favorite Documents lists, and advanced search capabilities like natural language processing, filters, and Boolean operators, DMS users can quickly and easily track down needed files in the DMS repository.

Another problem as files have gone digital is the proliferation of PDF files that aren't in a text-searchable format. The built-in OCR functionality in the DMS will ensure that you find all relevant files — not just a portion of them.

Integrating a DMS and PM can make the process even faster by linking clients and matters in the practice management software to their associated folders and workspaces in the DMS. You can view documents saved in the DMS repository without leaving your PM interface.

2. Streamline your document creation

When document management and practice management come together, you get something even more impactful by adding document and workflow automation.

Document templates in the DMS help users avoid repetitive tasks like formatting new documents or wasting time locating previous versions to copy from. In addition, integrated systems can use workspace and document templates to automatically populate matter details from the PM and save the completed file to the correct matter workspace in the DMS. Integration makes creating and organizing documents nearly effortless.

When you add automation to the mix, especially no-code or low-code, you can create apps in-house for self-service workflows internally and externally. This allows for the creation of entire document packets without having to hire a developer. No more clumsy, time-consuming “find and replace” routines necessary!

3. Access everything from anywhere

In a PM, everything is digital: contacts, calendars, time, billing, notes, and more. All that critical information is at your fingertips, available as you need it. A DMS offers the same kind of anywhere, anytime access for your documents, emails, and other files in an organized matter workspace.

With integrated document management and practice management systems, you can easily access information from each system, no matter which one you’re working in. Just as you can pull data from your PM into document templates, you can also retrieve matter-related documents and emails within the PM workspace. Another advantage is that you can see different document versions, review security or user permissions, sort and organize documents, and more to help your work move smoothly and efficiently.

Are you suffering from the “toggle tax”? A recent study by Harvard Business Review revealed toggles between different apps and websites take two seconds per switch, which adds up to four hours per working week, and five working days per year — and the average user toggles 1,200 times per day on average.

4. Control your permissions and access

Your practice relies on the steady but secure flow of information between teammates, clients, experts, witnesses, and other collaborators. When confidential documents require stronger security, a DMS makes adding extra layers of protection easy without making it harder for authorized users to access the data they need.

Your firm can enjoy fluid, on-demand access to critical firm and client information using advanced user access controls based on zero trust or need-to-know principles. You can also quickly and easily establish ethical walls for secure data and matter management within the DMS. Alarmingly, on-premises PMs may allow users to dig into the operating system and bypass security entirely.

On the other hand, if your PM and DMS are integrated, you can apply more granular access controls within the DMS so that even if a user can access matter details in the PM, they won’t automatically have access to all matter-related documents. You can set permissions at the document level to fully customize which documents (if any) a PM user can access and what type of access they have (e.g., edit, share, or view-only).

With full control over your documents, you can ensure your users have easy access to all the information they need — and nothing they don’t.

The benefits don't end here. See how you can accelerate your full strategic advantage by combining the power of practice management and document management in our latest eBook.

5. Increase productivity with more efficient workflows

When you improve the full document lifecycle by utilizing technology, you experience major gains in productivity and a reduction in frustration from having to move between multiple systems and shuffle documents around from place to place to get work done. You also ensure that everything gets done right every time, no matter who is completing the task.

With many things in legal practice revolving around documents, it makes a big difference to have tools for common document tasks located directly in your DMS. For example, being able to streamline by:

  • Pulling content into a document from the PM
  • Easily completing online edits
  • Instantly sending the document for electronic signature
  • And then having it automatically come back to your matter workspace in the DMS

Take it a step further, and you can quickly file the document with state or federal courts or create closing checklists and binders for transactions that reside in and can be securely shared from your DMS. You can also create tasks that are automatically linked to the documents involved to ensure nothing is missed.

Add automation to your toolkit, and it’s like everything above turbocharged. Those mundane repeatable tasks that take you away from more important work are now done by the software. You can automate as much or as little of the process as you feel comfortable with and use your forms, templates, and expertise to make it rock solid. And with low-code/no-code tools, you can align automation with your existing workflow without hiring a developer.

6. Secure your data and protect against loss

Losing or exposing confidential data isn't something your firm wants to deal with, whether it happens accidentally or maliciously. Operating without a DMS leaves your documents dangerously exposed to risk.

Integrating a DMS with your practice management solution provides stronger protection for your most confidential information while still enabling collaboration when needed. With granular user permissions, you can restrict access on a need-to-know basis and help prevent confidential documents from getting into the wrong hands.

In addition, both your PM and DMS can help protect your firm and prevent data loss with robust built-in security, plus additional safeguards like document-level encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and data loss prevention (DLP), which provide greater protection against ransomware and malicious actors. For highly confidential documents, you can even prevent certain user actions like document sharing or printing.

Together, these features help ensure your files — and your firm — stay secure.

7. Keep track of time with fewer clicks

Tracking time is a common challenge, but when you integrate your practice management and document management solutions, logging time is just a click away.

For example, when the DMS is connected directly to your PM solution, you can quickly add entries for time spent drafting, finalizing, or reviewing documents associated with a matter. All it takes is a couple of clicks for timekeepers to confirm suggested time entries from the document history and efficiently log hours to the right matter and client.

8. Simplify with a single system of record

Operating without a legal DMS is risky business for a law firm. Documents may get stashed in multiple places across the firm, confusing and conflicting document versions and leaving you no easy way to get a clear sense of what is happening on a matter. In short, you’re wasting time and introducing a level of uncertainty (and risk) that is unnecessary.

Substantive information exists not only in documents but also in your emails. Having a quick and easy way to file them with the matter, so the entire team has access at all times is essential. Not only that, but you need the entire digital file in one place for archiving purposes. Information governance is impossible without these basic requirements. When the same email is sent to multiple people, you want to retain a single copy for tracking and efficiency.

On the other hand, if your practice management solution is the single system of record for any documents and emails your firm has created and every document your firm has received, you can go to that single source and find what you need with confidence every time.

9. Collaborate with internal and external stakeholders

Digital collaboration is essential for keeping business moving forward. You need tools that empower your team to share and collaborate both easily and safely with people, whether they are inside or outside your firm, including clients, co-counsel, opposing counsel, experts, and other groups.

A PM and DMS both have tools to make collaboration smoother without cluttering your email inbox. But a DMS makes it easy to share, edit, review, annotate, and discuss documents securely — without the challenges of local copies, untracked changes, version conflicts, etc. As conversations move from email to platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack, a DMS can make securely sharing files with a group much easier.

10. Integrated with your tech stack

Practice and document management aren’t the only systems your team relies on day to day. Fortunately, a PM and DMS integrate with various other products, such as time and billing software, project management solutions, electronic signature and filing platforms, contract management tools, Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, and many more.

A fully integrated tech stack means less manual work for your team, fewer copies of documents floating around, more consistent information across tools, less bouncing between platforms, and enhanced productivity. When you optimize your technology and workflows, it means less work for your team. Your software applications do the heavy lifting, so you can get back to focusing on clients.

Keep operations organized — and your clients happy

All the benefits of integrating a PM and DMS can give your firm a strategic advantage as users are empowered to find what they need quickly and confidently. Not only does a well-organized firm waste less time due to disorganization (a win for billable hours!), but it can also help your team deliver superior client service because everything is always right at your fingertips.

With your documents, emails, and practice data organized, integrated, and in sync, your team can quickly find answers to client questions and keep the work moving forward. And with happier, more satisfied clients, you can count on better client retention and more referrals.

The benefits don't end here. See how you can accelerate your full strategic advantage by combining the power of practice management and document management in our latest eBook.

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