Legal Scanning Workflows
Scanning documents is a fundamental aspect of daily operations for law firms. However, as technology advances and user expectations grow, it has become evident that scanning should not be a monolithic activity. Instead, it should be dissected into two distinct phases: the stand-up activity and the sit-down activity.
Let’s delve into the two-part nature of scanning, looking at why this distinction matters and how our innovative Queues technology enhances the sit-down portion of the scanning process into a more appealing and efficient experience.
Dissecting the Two-Part Nature of Scanning
The Stand-Up Activity
Traditionally, scanning has been perceived as a simple push-button process, often performed at Multifunction Devices (MFDs) in the office. This portion of the process is what everyone associates with scanning, and involves physically placing a document on the scanner, choosing where the document should be delivered to, configuring the basic scan settings and initiating the scanning process. Its primary objective is speed and efficiency. Users aim to digitize documents swiftly and move on to their next task.
The Sit-Down Activity
Contrary to the stand-up activity, the sit-down portion of scanning is where the real complexity arises. It is the phase where users must determine what should happen to the scanned document, such as profiling it into a document management system, assigning relevant metadata, and deciding on further actions. This phase demands careful consideration, often involving collaboration with colleagues and adherence to organizational guidelines.
Common Ways Users Avoid Complexity
Scan to email – one common approach that law firms and professionals have adopted for the two-stage scanning process is scan-to-email. This method may seem convenient at first glance and allows users to complete the stand-up activity quicky and efficiently and send the document to where it needs to go later. But this simplicity comes at a cost:
- IT headaches – Scan-to-email can lead to IT-related challenges, including needing to allow large email attachments, potential security risks, retention policies and overburdened email servers.
- OCR – It’s important that scanned documents are OCR’d so the content can be indexed when it is profiled into the DMS, making it possible to search the document later. Many MFD OCR options are limited, slow and have poor OCR quality leading to problems finding information in the document later. It also takes time for OCR to finish on large documents leading to frustration and sometimes causing users to think their document is not going to arrive and so scanning it again.
- Inefficient collaboration – Collaborative work on documents becomes cumbersome, if they remain siloed in individual email inboxes and forwarding e-mails may lead to multiple copies eventually ending up in the DMS or worse, downloaded on peoples local machines.
Scan to folder – scan-to-folder seems like a convenient option: it’s easy. The user doesn’t have to enter any information or spend longer at the MFD. However, our extensive experience has revealed limitations:
- Duplicating documents – We’ve spoken with several firms that have revealed the unintended consequence of the scan-to-folder approach where users were duplicating documents by scanning to a folder and emailing the same document to their attorneys. This redundant practice increased the likelihood of multiple copies that hindered effective version control.
- Neglecting pre-profiling – scan-to-folder is quick if users are not required to enter any information at the time of scan such as the filename. But if documents are being scanned into a shared folder, it can take time for a user to find the correct document amongst many others called Scan.pdf, Scan (1).pdf, Scan (2).pdf etc. This can also be problematic when scanning a batch of documents into their own private folder.
- Security and retention – network folders can grow pretty fast when used to capture scanned documents, and having large numbers of client documents on the network (even in secured folders) is an additional security risk. They will need to be cleaned up regularly, leaving IT with the unenviable task of trying to figure out how to script a process to purge older documents from potentially hundreds of folders.
- Audit-trails – the absence of an audit trail and tracking mechanism in scan-to-folder raises concerns about document integrity, deadline management, and potential oversight. Collaboration becomes an ordeal if users are scanning documents into their personal folders, isolating valuable information from colleagues and attorneys. The absence of an efficient way to grant access or notify others about relevant documents further exacerbates these issues.
Scan to document management system – ideally, scanned material ends up profiled in the document management system:
- However, scanning to email is a simple and more familiar process. Lawyers and legal professionals are accustomed to filing attachments from e-mail and despite the best efforts of the firm to get users away from scanning to e-mail first, they feel like it is quicker and more convenient to scan to e-mail than to stand at the device entering DMS profiling information.
Enhancing the Sit-Down Activity with Queues
Queues technology revolutionizes the sit-down portion of scanning by providing users with the tools and capabilities they need to efficiently manage and act upon scanned documents.
Key Features of Queues:
- Efficient Profiling: Queues integrate seamlessly with your Document Management System, streamlining the profiling process. This integration centralizes document storage and retrieval, enhancing collaboration and ensuring consistency.
- PDF Editing Capabilities: Captured documents are automatically OCR’d, making them instantly editable within your workflow. Add comments, make redactions, and perform other essential tasks without leaving your Queue.
- Unlimited Workflows: Queues allow for the creation of unlimited, customizable workflows. This flexibility reduces the number of clicks required to capture and route documents while offering more user-friendly interfaces.
- Scanning from Anywhere: Our nQzw mobile scan and print app turn your smartphone into a mobile scanning device, ensuring that you can submit documents to your Queue anytime, anywhere.
Scanning should no longer be perceived as a one-size-fits-all process. Recognizing the two-part nature of scanning, with its stand-up and sit-down activities, is essential for optimizing document management workflows. Scan-to-email, while convenient, falls short in addressing the complexity of the sit-down phase.
Queues technology reimagines the sit-down portion of scanning, empowering end-users to efficiently manage, collaborate on, and act upon scanned documents. By offering features like efficient profiling, PDF editing, unlimited workflows, and mobile capture capabilities, Queues enhances the sit-down experience, enabling organizations to leverage their scanning investments to their fullest potential.