Massive collections of information are inundating law firms. With multiple points of integration, interfaces, and varying disciplines this further muddies the waters. This session at ILTA answered questions relating the issues of organizing and managing content across all firm repositories to reduce silos, improve data quality, facilitate KM and ensure full and accurate firm records.
The goal of most firms now is to devise an ECM (Enterprise Content Management) system which includes connecting all of the following silos of information: email, DMS, KM system, records management system and others.
This is a cumbersome process because each data set is unique and live in differing systems. Another issue, rarely understood, is that storage of data is not cheap. With the necessities of infrastructure, backing up and maintaining data and a facility is rather expensive.
Another area of consideration is risk management. A firm must be able to craft policies about enterprise information management. That is, how does the firm handle electronic discovery and where is it stored? Who has rights to the data? How should users get access to it and how long should it be stored?
Additionally law firms must consider the client-side challenges. Typically if not planned out, users at a firm can experience time consuming search for documents. They also can learn that it is difficult to “find” documents located in various locations.
In essence, firms must build “tridges”, multi-pointed bridges which connect all groups and information together. To do so a firm needs to:
- Understand there will be some hard cultural changes at the firm
- Find top level champions to be brought on board for support of the ECM
- The organization must highlight (WIIFM) What Is In it For Me… so that all aspects of the organization can see how they fit in
- Address user concerns by showing them what will be brought into via search on the ECM. By doing this you create a vested interest and they typically like seeing their work product pulled up in the searches
Ultimately when conjoining all of the various disparate pieces of information together, there are several point to consider:
- The process has to be defined and paramount to this is communication. Among all of the parties which will be involved in the ECM process, making sure everyone is on the same page is critical
- Define objectives: every aspect of what the firm wishes to have as a net result must be detailed
- Redefine the process. Understand that many new processes will evolve which will then be disseminated across the organization
- Understand that technologies can get in the way of each other and be prepared for these temporary setbacks.
- Lastly accept and accommodate the delta; i.e. know that all of these things can get you so far but you still have a system that will need to be adjusted over time