We’ve all been there… searching through our Inbox to find that email we know we received a few weeks, or even months, back, the one that had that really important document attached to it; how many hours have you lost trying to find that one document that is now needed? Probably too long! According to a recent survey by McKinsey Global Institute and the International Data Corporation, the time given by professionals and managers on their emails was staggering! 28% of their time during the working day was spent on reading, writing and responding to emails, whilst 19% of their time is used to track down those emails with the vital information needed to complete tasks – that’s nearly half a lawyer’s work day devoted to managing emails!
As a way of avoiding the Inbox search, many lawyers have started storing emails in folders in Outlook; or because they are being told to do by IT who warn of mailbox quotas being too high and activating the auto-delete function! But this filing system opens up a whole host of new problems… an email folder is essentially a silo for data, and limits the ability to share documents and information between lawyers who often rely on being able to work together and share data. It’s inefficient, unstructured, personal to the user which hampers identification of important emails, idiosyncratic, a waste of time and resources in copying emails to Word documents or printing them, uses up valuable storage/usable space on servers and/or hard drives; and then there’s the risk of data loss, a breach of retention policies, open to automatic deletion after 90 days (if that’s what the IT department has programmed!), oh, and legal issues…! Put you off this method yet?
But don’t panic; there is another option that can make all this go away… enterprise document management and search systems that include an email management solution. Not only do these systems integrate with email Inboxes, they also allow users to transfer and move around email messages, plus any connected attachments, from their own Inboxes to that of a central shared workspace (an electronic matter file). Within this workspace, others in the team or department will be able to find the relevant documents including attachments, scanned paper documents, and the emails.
This form of document management system has the ability to be the single reference point for a whole legal team; it can be fully indexed, lawyers can search for material using keywords, and quickly retrieve the necessary information required pertaining to the matter they are working on. What better way to enhance and improve collaboration, simplify business processes, delivers better preservation and access to emails and documents, and can also provide an audit trail linked to parent documents.
So, lawyers, utilise a document management system to manage emails, learn better email techniques, and spend less time searching for information so that you can spend more time doing what you trained to do… practice law!