While not true of all law firms, many face the following challenges when attempting to go matter-centric, regardless of DMS platform:
- Too many document types.
- Practice groups / departments that recognize the problem but can’t easily agree on which types may be removed, consolidated, and reorganized.
- Resistance to a design heavy approach where consensus has to be reached before any significant technical steps can be taken.
- No record (in the DMS) of which practice area a given matter belongs to. This may be compounded by the matters, especially older matters, not having been coded to the proper practice areas within the financial or matter-management system.
A typical approach which we’ve taken with multiple DMS technologies, with and without Extended Dynamic Views (EDV), tends to focus on reporting on metadata usage, studying folder structures in use, meeting with departments, mapping folders to practice codes from the financial/matter system, and working to a consensus among many users with different needs, wants, and expectations of the system. All of this has merit however it also typically all occurs before any tangible benefit is delivered to end-users. It’s no surprise then that without a strong commitment from those backing the effort, the project falters, delivers a less than optimal outcome, or never even starts.
A bit over 2 months ago, I posted about the release of EDV 1.2. It added quite a few technical features including the ability to import XML definitions of dynamic views built with EDV and to filter by constants. Using those two features and the field experience we’ve gained, we’ve prepared the “Matter-Centric Standard Template” for EDV. It’s more exciting than the name might imply!
Consider a firm facing the challenges I outlined above that uses eDOCS DM 5.2.x or 5.3.x with an out of the box legal database. In less than 5 minutes (view demo here >>> Installation & Configuration Demonstration), it’s possible to fully deploy EDV with a much more user-friendly, flexible, matter-centric dynamic view (view demo here >>> End User Demonstration) that delivers immediate benefits to end users, without all the heavy lifting. Following the initial deployment, the dynamic view can be tailored piece-by-piece by any DM administrator with no special knowledge using only Library Maintenance or the DM Admin Webtop.
***I’d argue that this turns the whole matter-centric project on its head for many firms!***
The initial step is easy. Follow the steps in the video using EDV. Assuming you haven’t tracked the practice codes in DM already, assign one or all matters to one practice code (e.g. GENERAL). Immediately, users will have a dynamic view where the document type folders within a given matter are only shown if documents are assigned to them which is typically a small subset of the document types available. No document type consolidation required. Further, as users create documents within the matter that use other document types, they appear within that matter instantly. Compared to doing nothing, that’s not a bad place to stop!
As user adoption builds, a common request might be that certain folders (e.g. Correspondence) should appear automatically in new matters, even before a document exists. Simply go in and create a mapping of Correspondence to the practice code (e.g. GENERAL, ESTATE, …) and it will always appear.
From there, if you can assign practice codes to the matter, you can start creating templates by practice area using your existing document types (e.g. ESTATE has WILL while LITIGATION has PLEADING and BOTH have CORRESPONDENCE). Again, this is just simple manipulation using the same tools you use daily to manage DM. Easy!
Over time, as a practice groups determine that they no longer want to see all of the document types within their matters, turn on document type lookup filtering with another simple checkbox and create the appropriate mappings to the document types they do wish to see.
From the start, as users see benefit, we believe they’re more likely to suggest ways to improve it further. Eventually, after the older document types are no longer appearing in the dynamic view or the lookup, they may even be comfortable removing them from the system. But if they aren’t comfortable, well, there’s not much harm since they only see them in legacy matters!
Of course, while we believe this presents the fastest and easiest way for many firms to go matter-centric, it’s also worth noting that EDV can also be used to create dynamic views that go far beyond what’s possible any other way, tailored precisely to your business. Learn more at http://www.advdoc.com/edv.