Applying Best Practices to Information Management & Document Security in Law Firms & Other Businesses
(Editor’s note: information management and document security are paramount to all companies; today we focus and put the spotlight on law firms, but the parallels to so many other organizations means that this educational blog is pertinent across the board – NOT just for law firms!)
RYAN is here to help with the hardware and software solutions law firms need to manage the challenges in the legal market. Law firms are looking for solutions to help streamline the workflow process to obtain favorable results for clients while increasing revenue and containing costs.
In addition, law firms must also ensure client confidentiality, while effectively incorporating new technologies, such as mobile devices within the firm. RYAN provides solutions that can help firms reduce the time and cost spent on document-related tasks—enabling legal professionals to spend more time serving their clients. The broad range of Canon products includes stand-alone device capabilities, as well as solutions that integrate seamlessly with case and document management systems.
Law firms face everyday challenges in containing printing costs, enhancing accountability by individual and department, and gaining greater accuracy in charge-backs of output to overhead/clients/opposing counsel. Secure client confidentiality and compliance is also critical. RYAN provides solutions that include tracking copy/print activity; restricting usage; secure printing; billing codes; print and usage audits; job routing; card authentication; back-end authentication; and meeting security protocols.
Data: Growing Quickly
Law firms and corporate legal departments are coping with increasing amounts of information in a growing number of formats. Digital files and information can range from text to video, audio, other specialized digital files, and email. Large amounts of information continue to be contained and created in paper-based documents. All this information needs to be managed, stored, and made easily available in accurate and meaningful ways to attorneys and staff, ensuring workflows deliver the highest value possible in legal services to clients and organizations. It’s no wonder the legal industry, like most other businesses, is looking at how to leverage digital transformation to improve information and data management.
Digital transformation is multifaceted and includes integrating digital technology into all areas of a business to change how the business operates. In a recently released white paper titled “Information Revolution,” Canon U.S.A. outlines the concept of “lean thinking” — how can this, along with digital technology, be applied to help law firms more efficiently manage the vast amount of digital and paper-based information they now confront?
Map the flow of information
Understanding from where the information comes into the firm, who receives that information, how it is stored, where modifications are done, and what other actions are taken by parties that receive the information is a key step to begin thinking lean and taking the best steps in the digital transformation of workflows. This mapping will uncover bottlenecks, stretches of inefficient waiting time, duplication of efforts and gaps in areas of security and compliance. Gaining this knowledge, along with a clear view of the business needs of the firm and the objectives desired, will help identify what workstreams can be redesigned or automated to better meet critical requirements. Getting control of the digital and paper-based documents created and received in the department ensures the right information is getting to the right people at the right time to deliver quality legal services. Working with a trusted solution provider with an understanding of lean thinking principles can help make sure this mapping is as complete as possible.
Control what is done with documents
Once the workflow and workstreams are understood, steps should be taken to control how documents are handled and moved through the business. Document management and electronic content management (ECM) have been available and reliably used for quite some time. Workflow and governance rules should be created to make sure documents and information are routed to the appropriate workgroup or approver and to determine what to do with the document over its lifecycle. Paper documents that come into the firm should be converted to digital form, indexed and inserted directly into the workflows with which they are associated. This can be done by setting up easy-to-use scanning applications on standalone scanners or MFPs that OCR the document or require the user to input index information. The number of documents created in the organization should be minimized and monitored to know what and how much is being printed and to where, and who is doing the printing.
Manual workstream processes should be automated to minimize errors, improve productivity, and maintain the integrity of the information. Using OCR and artificial intelligence (AI), information can automatically be extracted from documents to determine what the document is, what the next step in the workflow is and who should have access to it. Robotic process automation (RPA) is gaining use to reduce manual document handling steps as well. Through data analytics, automated workstreams can be analyzed to provide views of new bottlenecks or workflow interruptions that can be corrected quickly and provide a continuous improvement environment to the firm.
Optimize information security
Confidentiality and protection of client documents are the lifeblood of any law firm. Protection from hackers and other malicious attacks are growing concerns of legal firms where this client confidentiality is paramount. Meeting privacy regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA increase the complexity of doing business. Digital files should be encrypted. Authentication through user IDs and passwords, or by using proximity cards, should be enforced to access any system, workflow, or device. When printing documents, print streams should be encrypted, and users required to authenticate at the print device before the job is printed. Devices used for printing should not only have virus and malware protection but also verify that their boot code, operating system, and applications running on that device have not been compromised.
Using these lean thinking principles can help any legal organization get the most out of their digital transformation by moving documents and information in the most efficient, cost controlled, and confidential way possible.
Learn from the experts at RYAN how your law firm can utilize these best practices in document security and information management: contact us or schedule a demo today, call 800.842.1916, or fill out our information form here.