Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Key Features- Scanning/Capture Applications for Law Firms

What should a Law Firm look for in a scanning application? Here are some suggestions:

Barcode Separator Functionality - Separator pages allow the user to insert a specially coded page between documents in a stack. Once scanned, the software uses these pages to determine when a document begins and ends. This allows the scanning of many documents at once, rather than scanning one at a time. There is also the notion of "intelligent separators" which allow you to encode data on the separator page, such as case, matter, attorney, etc.

Image Enhancement - These tools, such as Kofax's Virtual Rescan, will automatically adjust contrast and brightness, remove problematic colors, remove speckles, and thicken fonts. If you want the highest quality image, with the least amount of scanning operator intervention, this is a key component to any scanning system.

Indexing - The application should allow for the entry of case and matter information, and this should allow you to automatically rename the files based on these values, and create folders. Rapid indexing features should allow quick entry of these fields for multiple documents.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) - OCR takes the scanned image, and converts it to a text-based format. When looking at this feature, it should allow conversion to the following 3 formats: Adobe Image + Hidden Text, Word/WordPerfect and plain text. If you can test the software, see what type of results it provides with several sample firm documents.

Export - Depending on how you are managing your cases, the application should offer maximum flexibility on where you can direct the end product. I have several firms that use multiple case/document management systems, depending on the case type and size. Folder Export, Summation, Alchemy, SharePoint, etc should all be supported.

Bates Numbering - Get rid of that old stamp!! Most Advanced Capture Applications provide the ability to digitally Bates Stamp your documents. Huge time saver.

Obviously this is just a starting point, but these are some necessary features that will make processing documents easier, and much more efficient.

For more info, go to www.scanguru.com

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why buy a Document Management or ECM System?

The Business World is a rapidly changing entity, and technology helps adapt to these changes quickly and will help a company keep its competitive advantage. Paper has always been an inefficient medium for conducting business processes, and recently has become a key focus for Business Process Improvement (BPI) initiatives. So what are the main reasons for a company or organization to move towards the paperless environment?
Below are the two main categories:

Operation Efficiency and Business Process Improvement

-Through the use of a DM/ECM system, operational costs can be reduced. A primary example of this is floor space. A 4 drawer file cabinet takes up about 8 square feet of floor space. Multiply this by the number of cabinets and what you pay per square foot on a lease, and this can be a significant waste of dollars. Along this same vein we can examine the costs of handling and process paper documents. It is estimated that a single file folder can cost $25-50 to create, and that a lost file has a cost of $125 – 300 (depending on the cost of the employee time and recreation costs). This is a small sampling of how Operational costs can be reduced.

-Using a digital repository can improve productivity. This is an obvious benefit. Any time you can reduce the time required to perform a required task, that time can be applied elsewhere. A basic online search for a customer file requires about 5 seconds. To accomplish the same information lookup with a physical file cabinet can take 10 – 25 minutes, or perhaps even days if the file is held in offsite storage. This is just for basic lookups, and not complex searches, which could take weeks if performed through the physical file system.

-A DM/ECM system can provide improved customer service. Take for example a large HMO Claims Department. Members call with questions about claims, and with the old paper system, they were put on hold until the physical claim could be retrieved. Now, it is viewed instantly, and information passed within minutes.

-Managing customer documents efficiently can lead to improved customer retention and acquisition. The ability to manage contracts, expiration dates, equipment lists, etc. quickly and easily, along with improved customer service, will ultimately result in enhanced retention and acquisition if managed correctly.

All of the above will result in improved operating margins, and ultimately, increased profits.

Risk Reduction

-DM/ECM systems are imperative to those organizations subject that are subject to compliance laws and regulations. The ability to produce records, provide documentation during audits, track access to documents, and track transactions is now required in certain business verticals. Financial Firms, Non-profits, Healthcare, Government and others are now required by law to fully manage and track many operations within their business. ECM/DM system vendors have focused on these requirements and the law to ensure compliance when it comes to retaining and tracking documentation and access to records.

-A document repository can reduce litigation exposure for an organization. The ability to retain and recall documentation and records at a moments notice can be imperative in any legal situation.

-Document Security is often an overlooked area within an organization’s security plan. An online system gives the ability to track access, changes, additions, deletions, etc. For more info on ECM/DM security go to the following articles: http://www.scanguru.com/page.php?9 and http://www.scanguru.com/page.php?10 .

-An ECM/DM system allows for the backup of critical files. What would happen to an organization if their file room was destroyed by a fire or flood? Business Continuity Planning is a critical theme today, allowing an organization to insure that a disaster of any kind will not bring business to a halt. Scanning paper files provides the ability to backup and restore key business documentation.

For more information on the above topics, visit http://www.scanguru.com/ .