Information Management for Professionals
Specialists in document production and management solutions, Ascertus offer a full range of professional services and software solutions, which allow professional knowledge workers across all sectors to demonstrate and justify their value to their company, effectively manage their costs, mitigate their risks, and enhance their efficiency and productivity.
By Jon Wainwright, Sales Director Ascertus Limited and originally published on Fresh Business Thinking on February 08, 2016.
Today many organisations are going ‘digital’ – i.e. eliminating time consuming, cumbersome paper processes in the business in an attempt to achieve ‘paperless office’ nirvana. The first step to this approach requires converting paper to a digital format. Electronic files are cost-effectively stored (eliminating the need for expensive physical spaces); and backed up for business continuity in safe and secure locations. This then allows organisations to institute document management processes and automation systems that instantly indexed and archive information and records for fast search, retrieval and re-use.
Grossly under-utilised and unrecognised for this functionality, document management systems serve as great tools for collaboration too. The document management function can be set up as a shared service – both to internal clients and customers. For instance, within an organisation, establishing a shared document management system as a collaboration tool between the human resource and accounts departments eliminates duplication of data and makes things like payroll, pensions, on-boarding new employees and so on timely and seamless across both functions.
Similar processes can be established with customers. A top 20 UK audit and accountancy firm has set up a collaboration site for every single client that the firm services via its document management system. Now customers use the system as a default, secure, single location to store and share all their accounts-related paperwork – completely eliminating the need to share information via email or other means. It’s worth noting that this approach encourages client “stickiness” – i.e. the convenience and ease of working with the firm is potentially likely to outweigh any advantages that another firm might offer.
Confidentiality is of course vital in collaborative initiatives. Document management processes can be configured for security based on confidentiality requirements and organisational policies. For example, security could be set at the folder or document level with users/documents automatically inheriting access rights – such as for how long the documents must be stored, who can access them, what folder structures should be used, etc. Automatic time-out sessions can be applied to documents so that information isn't accidentally kept open.
For organisations that are looking to embed document management processes, this is a good time to explore cloud technology and in particular the private hosted option. Undoubtedly, there will be immediate cost savings, but a private hosted approach will ensure that the document management function is completely secure, allaying any potential customer reservations regarding collaboration. Unlike a Software as a Service model, every organisation installs its own instance of software, runs on a version of the document management system that best fits its needs and crucially, has full control over data and documents.
Underpinned by a paper-free approach to business, there is a strong business rationale for using document management as a collaborative tool to strengthen relationships with clients – both external and internally in the organisation. It allows businesses to strengthen relationships, truly add value and differentiate themselves from competition.
By Roy Russell, CEO, Ascertus Limited and originally published on ITProPortal on January 08, 2016.
Roy Russell, CEO of Ascertus Limited, offers his practical view on the role that information and document lifecycle management will play in the legal sector in 2016, based on customer and market insight:
Law firms will finally make ‘paper to digital’ a high priority action within their broader business transformation agenda
After years of discussion on the merits of a paper-less office, firms will decisively make ‘paper to digital’ a high priority action item within their larger business transformation programme. This will be driven by business objectives of course, but also by the availability of advanced technology that allows organisations to innovatively think about paper flow processes in their organisation – from creation and maintenance through to destruction and archiving of electronic matter files.
The ensuing advantages will be reduced costs and risks associated with retaining paper, better back up measures for electronic and paper files, improved mobility and better collaboration capability, internally and with clients – all cumulatively facilitating better customer service.
Users will demand enterprise-grade systems to replace the Microsoft Outlook inbox, the accidental collaboration tool
With the email traffic growing incessantly, abetted by other forms of communication via mobile devices and in a variety of formats and file sizes, user frustration will a reach tipping point, which will compel them to demand practical and functionally-rich email and document lifecycle management systems for information storage and collaboration.
Already due to increased mobile and remote working, strict limits placed by IT departments on the size of the inbox and file transfers, alongside the imposition (and rightly so) of stringent corporate security policies preventing them from using external collaboration tools (e.g. Dropbox), collaboration across an organisation is greatly hindered. Even where proprietary, third party information sharing tools are allowed, these applications are not integrated with the core systems, making seamless, intuitive collaboration and data sharing difficult to achieve. The new and innovative email and document management tools coming on the market in 2016 will be attractive to law firms and in-house corporate counsels alike.
Smaller law firms and corporate legal departments will adopt technology systems that were previously considered suitable only for large law
In the last couple of years, lawyer mobility within the industry has increased, and many have moved to smaller law firms, branched out on their own or joined in-house legal departments. Often, lawyers experience disappointment in their new roles on finding that they don’t have access to the same productivity tools as they did previously. To equip staff with the necessary tools, in 2016 organisations will adopt best of breed technology systems that have long been mistakenly considered suitable only for large law.
Rather than purchasing directly from software vendors, they will acquire systems from solutions providers who have expressly developed propositions that reduce the total cost of ownership of technology and reliance on internal IT resources. In addition, these offerings are based on a variety of flexible licencing options including perpetual, annual subscription and software as a service (SaaS). In doing so, these niche solutions providers remove the typical obstacles that prevent smaller firms and legal departments from acquiring best of breed systems.
Adoption of privately hosted systems will gather momentum
Cloud services providers are well aware of the security concerns of the industry at large, and they are taking measures to address the issues. Microsoft’s recently announced opening of new datacentres in the UK and Germany following the EU Court of Justice’s ruling declaring Safe Harbour inadequate is a case in point.
The benefits of cloud technology are irrefutable and to take advantage, legal sector organisations will begin to adopt the privately hosted model for business applications in 2016 – be it for document management systems in law firms or electronic billing and legal spend management systems in legal departments within corporates.
App Stores will make inroads in legal
In 2016, the types of commercial models will expand significantly with software as a service, managed services and subscription-based licensing will gain adoption, in some cases replacing the traditional perpetual licensing model. This will drive software providers to offer ‘app store’ like functionality to organisations to allow them to trial and use new applications for free until they can establish the long term benefits of the solutions to the business.