The COVID19 pandemic forced most enterprises to send their employees to work from home. While they were busy implementing new solutions, procedures, and guidelines, employees working from home faced their own set of challenges they weren’t prepared for.
In one recent research article, over 75% of people said that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a negative impact on their habits and routines. Anyone working from home, which nowadays is pretty much every single one of us, are in an unknown territory, forced to adapt to new lifestyles and new routines with a zero-transition period. In this blog, we will go over some tips for successful and productive work from home strategies.
We’ve organized the tips in 5 major categories for easier navigation. You may be tempted to jump to one of these categories and skip the rest. Try to avoid the temptation. Reading the obvious could be all you need to kick a bad habit out and replace it with a good one. Let’s get started.
Basic work from home tips
This first batch of tips is aimed at equipping us to avoid the pitfalls of slouching on the couch in our PJs for hours just because we’re not commuting to work. These are the most obvious things that so many of us fail to do, and we end up locked in a “Sunday mode.”
- Leave the bed, get off the couch. Find a comfortable and dedicated spot to work. This one spot could earn the “at work” nickname for the time being. Sitting at the desk will mean you’re at work, and when you get up, you’re not at work anymore.
- Get out of your PJs, have an early breakfast, and sit up straight. Maybe it sounds obvious, but it helps your mind to start a logical, productive routine and keep going throughout the day. Establishing routines is essential to stay focused and mentally healthy while working from home.
- Make daily plans and stick to them. Living in isolation from others may throw your mind into a Sunday mode. To avoid this trap that will kill your productivity, set a more detailed plan, and stick to that schedule as much as you can. When you work from home, the daily schedule should be more detailed and structured. Time to work, time for a break, time to play with kids, feed the dog or do some shopping. And don’t forget to schedule some outdoor time. Live organized while you work from home.
- Take advantage of your space and stay active and positive. Get up from the working desk. Leave the computer. Stretch and walk around. These little things may go a long way for your mood. Also, try some cooking. Healthy, regular home-cooked meals will nourish your body and your soul. Use the current situation of working from home for doing everything you couldn’t normally do in the enterprise office. And also, drink water regularly throughout the day.
- If you need any help, ask. Enterprise employees are used to having plenty of colleagues at an arm’s reach away, which meant that help was just a whisper away. Now that we’re all working from our home office, we need to remember that these colleagues, although miles apart, are still just a few mouse-clicks away. Collaboration tools are there for a reason. You’re not alone. When in need of help, reach out to others.
Having the basics covered, let’s now continue to improvement tips.
Tips for the “at work” time while at home
Once you set the basic personal rules of conduct, let’s move on to the tips to help you make the most out of your work hours while working from home.
- Dress up & show up on time. Some may find this overkill but putting on “office attire” changes how we perceive ourselves. Dressing up for the nook you call your “work desk” does help. Being on that desk, on time, every day can have significant productivity and mood benefits. Try it out for some time. Keep track of how far you get, how much you get done and how well you feel at the end of the day.
- Kids rules. With schools in lockdown, chances are the kids are also at home in their Sunday mode. You should have a dedicated room, and a schedule for them too. Help them understand the situation as much as they can, and you may be surprised as to how well they adjust and stick to the new rules. Knowing your kids, you will need to work out the story and the words you use to communicate effectively, so you can all keep your sanity during the lockdown.
- Find a chat buddy. It could be a co-worker or just someone like you, it doesn’t matter. Social interaction can alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. “We’re used to social interaction,” says Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen from Durham University in his study of solitude. “It facilitates cooperation and closeness.” The employee that works from home should fill the socializing gap. It could be the colleague you can hit up when you feel the need to communicate with someone. It could be a friend that works for another organization but is going through the same experience of isolation.
- Whenever possible, do video communication. Doing a phone call is not the same as doing a video call. Seeing other people’s faces changes the way we communicate. It brings us closer. Do whatever you can to simulate in-person communication. “There will be a sense of isolation of course, and it depends on how well your team communicates, or how much they’re willing to amp up communication using other tools besides face-to-face conversations,” says remote worker Matt Haughey, creator of the long-running community weblog MetaFilter and writer for Slack.
- The end of the workday. It is good to send a message to the rest of the team or department near the end of your workday. You can use email or chat, or any other apps you are using as a team. Something simple like “goodnight” or “thank you for a good working day” or last call for questions before you sign-off. It is an alternative to something that we all do in the office – saying goodbye when we leave. This is an excellent way to establish soft boundaries between work and family time, and it helps others to respect your time. This also helps colleagues feel connected and improve the atmosphere in the team.
- Stay available. You are using different kinds of communication platforms. Keep the notifications on. People may work under a different timeline, or they are simply in different time zones. Being available for your remote colleagues can help bridge the geographic and time gap, and help your organization be more agile in addressing issues and solving problems.
Sticking to these simple guidelines may make a tremendous difference in how you feel about working from home. Most of the time, for people who stick to these routines, working from home may even feel liberating and improve personal productivity.
Tips for team leaders
Team leaders will usually have more work in organizing and managing team activities and team performance. This means that the team leaders among us will need to step up and take charge more often, using more technology and hone our soft skills even more. Here are a handful of tips to help you do better management in a work from home setting.
- Communicate with your team members. Work hours, goals, targets, problems… Be clear about what you are expecting from them. Then do what is needed to empower them to do their job on time and to do it well.
- Try to make work from home as fun as possible. Don’t turn all discussions strictly in the work-related direction. Share links or informal information on similar topics like in the physical office. Encourage everyone to take breaks. Lead by example.
- Run well-timed and organized meetings. Teem meetings are just as important when the team is working remotely. The challenge with online meetings is that some of your team may be in a different time zone, or their work from home setting imposes a different daily timeline. Make sure you pick a time that is good for the team.
Physical distance from one another creates a perfect atmosphere for people to drift away while others are talking about something. You will need a well-prepared meeting agenda that everybody knows ahead of time. The common goals will serve as a gathering platform for the team, so the meeting will feel much more focused. It will also allow people to feel some sense of ownership of the meeting as they will usually have at least something to add or discuss one or more points on the agenda.
- Know which tools are working and which aren’t. Ask, observe and test. Be open to changing and improving. Ask management as soon as possible and be a leader in technological improvements.
- Be sure your words are not misread or misinterpreted. Most of the communication we do in face-to-face conversations are communicated or clarified through nonverbal communication. The problem with online meetings is that we don’t have the nonverbal cues at our disposal. It’s much more difficult to capture facial expression nuances, posture changes, tonality variations, etc. This means that our words may convey a different meaning from our original idea. Make sure you give people the room and time to reflect on what they understand from what others are communicating. When doing a non-camera meeting, feel free to use commonly understood emojis like smiley faces. This will help your team conduct better meetings, and you will have fewer misunderstandings.
Things will not get better unless managers don’t get better at managing remote teams. While you already have plenty of transferrable skills, be mindful that physical distance does make communication a bit more challenging. However, remote teams can outperform an in-office setting when things run smoothly and as transparently as possible.
Be aware of the cybersecurity challenges.
When we work in an office building, there is usually a security company providing physical security to the building, and there is probably a team of experts ensuring digital security. In a work from home mode, cybersecurity is a vastly more burning problem that should constantly be top-of-mind for the entire team.
- Update your SOPs with cybersecurity in mind. Now is the moment to read the companies policies and practices and update them with higher cybersecurity requirements. As millions of people are working from home, they unwillingly pose serious cybersecurity challenges. Employees who never gave cybersecurity a second thought are easy targets. They can easily click on a malicious email or install suspicious software, which can serve as a spy app for stealing sensitive information. If your organization relies on people using their own computers at home to do office work, you will need to inform and remind people of the dangers of cybersecurity and the need for diligence.
- Train staff to secure their personal and mobile devices. While employees work from home, they are inevitably using their home internet setup to run business operations. In many cases, companies will rely on people using their personal computers to work from home. Things get even more complicated as employees may put company data on private devices either unintentionally, or out of convenience.
Your SOPs will need a training clause where someone on your team will take charge of keeping cybersecurity best practices as a top priority and regularly bring this up with the team. Having a home firewall, regularly updated antivirus and antimalware apps and not storing office passwords in a notepad document, are all things to help strengthen the security profile of your organization.
- Use secure connections. While working from home, remote workers can use unsecure connections for communication. From the office, it is harder to make that mistake as there is usually a dedicated team on-site handling the intranet communication procedures and what gets out of the building and onto the internet. Security leaders should proactively reach out to individual team members and help them do the necessary setup for encrypted connections like VPNs. As support technicians know, you never assume the other knows what you know. Therefore cybersecurity personnel should prepare guidelines for digital safety and regularly remind people of these best practices. These practices are especially important in organizations that allow remote access to on-site repositories and legacy document management solutions.
- Use strong passwords and authentication. While employees work from home, IT departments and system administrators have additional challenges. In the new situation, it is harder to monitor remote workers and be sure they are using strong passwords and authentication. Biometric security can be more challenging to set up in a work from home environment, and while fingerprint scanners are affordable, adoption of the idea may be a bit harder than in an office setting.
At the same time, it is more complicated to perform password management actions. It’s even more challenging to ensure that every remote computer is running the latest OS patches and security updates. Security professionals understand that the weakest link in the security chain dictates the security of the entire organization. Making sure that every single employee brings their A-game in managing their personal computer security is extremely important for the security of the entire company. Employees should be aware of this responsibility. Only with their diligent password management, the organization can run a secure work from home digital environment.
Cybersecurity is usually tucked away in the IT Department, and the rest of us rarely bother about it in our daily activities. When working from home, the first line of defense is proper SOPs, excellent communication, and regular reminders of the security best practices.
Use technology as a help and as a tool
- Use collaboration tools as much as possible. There are many useful applications you can use while working from home. Zoom, WebEx, Hangouts, Slack, Trello, MS Teams…the list is long. The market was already full of them when the migration of the remote workers begun. Do not hesitate to speak to your IT department for guidelines on which ones to use and how to install them.
- If possible, separate the use of private and enterprise devices. Now, while employees work from home, they combine the private end professional life in one place. Sometimes even at the same time. The one thing they should separate is devices. Enterprise devices have special security software and protocols installed for the security of costumers and enterprise data and documents. Also, they are less vulnerable to phishing and other types of cyberattacks. The discipline of using only private devices for private usage is essential for cybersecurity while working from home.
- Use SaaS solutions as much as possible. As we describe in one of our previous blog posts, secure data access from anywhere for the entire workforce is one of the key reasons why enterprises should consider cloud solutions. Picking the right SaaS solution, coupled with proper training, can lead to productivity growth and employee satisfaction. Keep an open line with your colleagues and ask them to share any information about a potential SaaS solution that can replace an office-bound system you currently use. Being proactive is significant in stressful COVID-19 pandemic times.
- Use music and white noise to improve productivity. When employees work from an office, the sound and visual standards are more robust and stricter. Use the freedom of being at home and use the audio as a productivity booster. Listen to the music that matches the energy of the project. Music has the power to help focus and stimulate intellectual capabilities.
There are studies online that can help your team figure out what kind of music would be most suitable for different people and different departments. At the very least, getting your team to hop over to YouTube for some white-noise playlists could help them put a mental barrier between their workplace and the inevitable noises and distractions in a regular home environment with kids, spouse, pets etc.
- Do not hesitate to use various apps to improve the non-working time. In pandemic time, employees are at home when they are “at work” and when work hours are over. Whether it’s a work activity, watching a movie, exercising or socializing, the home is basecamp for everything. There are workout programs for people who can’t visit the gym. See if your company can dedicate some resources to allow this digital gym membership to your team. There are exercise programs for young people, young moms, middle-aged people and there are workout programs for seniors, too. These online programs aren’t prohibitively expensive, but they can go a long way in building up a positive spirit in your organization.
There are also entertainment options you could extend to your team. Netflix is one. YouTube Premium is another. Audible is also a great option for information hoarders among us. Do what you can to make the work from home experience as effective as possible by helping your team to find leisure activities past work hours.
When we think of technology and work, we regularly think of collaboration tools. However, these two terms intermingle in more complex ways. How we manage our computers and phones in terms of security, how we create a working atmosphere while the entire family is at home, what we do to have fun at home under lockdown and more. All these topics are a part of the technology and work conversation that companies should have in order to guide their workforce during this challenging period.
Let’s wrap up
The COVID pandemic came suddenly and strained the abilities of enterprises and employees alike. We all try to adapt and adopt solutions for emerging problems. Working from home is now our new normal, and many organizations never even considered the option. Now, it’s not just the latest trend. It’s a mode of work that we need to adopt if we want to ensure continuity of service.
To do this, to make sure we have continuity of service, each organization needs to be creative and flexible with the use of technology. In this blog, we shared a set of proactive ways to manage those challenges successfully. From simple daily leisure activities to significant technological improvements.
The silver lining in all this is that we already have tech tools on the market to make the new normal a bit more acceptable and a bit less stressful. We can use technology that enables work from home. There is a thriving market of collaborative tools enabling dispersed teams in different time zones to collaborate effectively and securely on a company-wide scale. There are also products that help people create mental barriers between the inevitable noises that come in a home setting. And, there are entertainment options that enterprises can offer to their employees to make this work from home period productive and fun.
Armedia LLC is a CMMI Level 3 company that provides a niche focus in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Case Management (CM) technical and advisory services. For over 18 years, we offer technology solutions to companies and government organizations that are facing document management, case management, and workflow management challenges. In just the past year, Armedia has actively supported over 30 initiatives in the government and commercial market.
For more info, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, and we’d appreciate you sharing this blog post on your social media.
A pandemic is not on our minds when we talk about globalization. Serious disease and possible death are some of our worst fears as humans. And let’s be honest, we don’t really know how to handle this COVID-19 problem. No one alive has had any first-hand experience in dealing with pandemics.
The world has seen decimating pandemics before, but the COVID-19 pandemic is unique. For the first time in pandemic history, the effects are so immanent, life-changing, and powerful that the pandemic has touched every single living being on this planet even those that aren’t infected. For many people, the social and economic disruptions are even more scary than the fear of the virus itself.
Our social distancing and “stay at home” response to the COVID-19 pandemic triggered the work from home initiative that now seems like it’s here to stay. That’s why in this and the next few blog posts, we will be analyzing these changes in more detail.
The Inconvenient “Work From Home Experiment” Outcomes
Without any warning, as Saikat Chatterjee, Senior Director, Advisory at Gartner says: “We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organizations to implement.”
The first group of enterprises stopped working completely in new COVID-19 coronavirus conditions. Some were closed down by the authorities. Some, could not implement the proper measures to prevent the spread of the disease between employees and customers while continuing to work. For others, nobody was interested in their services, such as the tourism industry.
The second group of enterprises started working from home. They did reforms on the fly and hoped for a positive outcome under the circumstances. This forced change came abruptly without any real preparation. This wasn’t a planned “next step forward” in enterprise development. It was just the opposite: an emergency response that enterprises had to do.
The third group of enterprises suspended their activities for a period of time and tried to evaluate whether they were capable of working from home and preserving the high level of security. Banks, insurance agencies, government organizations and more are trying to find the balance between servicing people’s needs for their services and the availability of technological tools.
We will be focusing on the second and third group for this blog post series.
Why Do Companies Like The Work From Home Movement?
The work from home trend wasn’t created because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we can see from this Gallup survey. in 2012, 39% of workers were remote in some way, even if it meant working from home just a few hours a month. In 2016, that number increased to 43% of enterprises who were experimenting in this direction because of the possible benefits that included:
- Employing workers regardless of geographical boundaries
- Eliminating transportation time and expenses
- Reducing the costs of offices
- Creating flexible working hours
That was the expectation. In reality, it was a mix of benefits and challenges. If we can separate and distinguish them, we will have a clear overview of the technological challenges.
So let’s start with Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University and his two year study about the effects of working from home in Ctrip, the most prominent Chinese Travel company. 1000 employees were randomly selected to work from home for 9 months. “The results we saw at Ctrip blew me away,” Bloom says.
Productivity increased by 13%. Employee retention rate grew by 50%. Initially, 500 of them were against remote work. At the end, only 30 were opposed to working from home. Those who worked from home reported increased work satisfaction, especially from those with stabilized social lives like parents, married workers, older workers, etc. Furthermore, in those 9 months, the enterprise saved about $1,900 per employee.
Bloom believes that one-third of the reason for the productivity increase was the quieter home environment for receiving calls. The other two thirds he associated with the working hours. Employees took shorter breaks, started earlier, finished later, and had no need to commute.
His view on the best-case scenario was when workers came into the office about one to three days of the week to stay connected to the enterprise and increase their creativity.
On the other side, the tech society still remembers one year earlier the previous Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s famous ban on remote work of any kind. Granted, call center jobs are easy to shift from an office environment to a home environment, but not all work is as easily done at home.
How Does Work From Home Affect People?
There are some unique aspects of the interaction between humans that don’t translate well through technology. “Screens are distancing,” says Thalia Wheatley, a professor of psychological and brain science at Dartmouth. “In face-to-face communication, you are sharing a moment in time and space with someone. That is incredibly compelling for our ancient brains.” And this is something that technology today is not capable of imitating and replacing.
Why is in-person communication superior? Scientists haven’t found the answer yet, but there are some strong indications.
First, the more eye contact people make while they communicate, the more they will be synchronized one to another. We cannot replicate that experience using video calls while we are working from home.
Second, the level of trust rises when people share a communal meal together. Not dining with the team doesn’t strengthen the team. This is even worse for workers who live alone because they will probably dine alone. “The brain becomes unstable with solitary confinement,” says Wheatley. Solitary confinement and social isolation in prisons increased the risk of premature death by 26%. Another study shows that social isolation reduces the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Furthermore, the effect of loneliness is estimated to reduce life expectancy by a staggering 15 years. This is equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. “It’s not just that everybody loves social interaction and parties and whatnot,” Wheatley says. “I think it’s critically important to our mental and physical health.”
This was the reason that led to another study. People have to accomplish a stressful task. The support they could receive can be either in-person or over a text message. As Susan Holtzman, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, says, “it wasn’t that texting was bad, it’s just that it was consistently not as good as in-person support.”
So how can we solve these challenges? Once more to quote Wheatley, “the thing has to get solved on the tech side. The tech needs to kind of disappear, so that you believe that you are in the room.” The level of user-friendliness needed for tech to disappear is easier said than done. Simplicity is not simple to achieve. Any UX designer will nod to this statement and be able to explain at length why this is such a challenge that we are only slowly solving.
Technology To The Rescue(?)
The problems are emerging from both sides: the enterprise side and the workers that work from home. Most of the legacy software solutions were built around the idea that the office will always be accessible, and someone will always be there to provide physical access to securely stored documents. These systems usually reside on an enterprise intranet and providing wide accessibility to hundreds or even thousands of remote workers is technically not possible.
Luckily, the Software as a Service industry has been growing for the past decade. In many aspects, these cloud solutions are providing the needed features and benefits and were built with scale in mind. From productivity tools like Office 365 or ZOHO to collaboration and conferencing tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, to industry-specific ones such as ArkCase FOIA and DSAR Solutions, enterprises are spoiled for choice.
The critical step in this transformative time for each enterprise will be to find a reliable technology implementation partner. Without one, companies and government agencies can quickly find themselves in trouble.
Armedia LLC is a CMMI Level 3 company that provides a niche focus in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Case Management technical and advisory services. With 18 years of deep ECM experience, our skilled team with industry certifications has helped deploy hundreds of ECM solutions.
Anil Parthasarathy, the USPTO CMS Technical Lead once said: “I cannot say enough about [Armedia’s] unwavering support, never-say-die attitude, and work ethic in helping CMS get better. [They] have been a rock in this project.”
For more info, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, and we’d appreciate you sharing this blog post on your social media profiles.
Enterprise content is the currency that moves businesses. And logically, its management is often the key to a business’s success or failure. The very purpose of ECM is managing enterprise content in a way that it stimulates insights and decisions that drive corporate activities.
ECM Modernization Avoidance
Employees want to be productive anytime, anywhere, from any device or application. Enterprises want to find and share business documents just as easily as they can browse and buy a book online. It’s all about content management technologies that support remote and collaborative working styles.
The problem is that enterprises fear modern ECM. In fact, most enterprises fear IT modernization in general. The reasons for this are understandable.
Enterprises are afraid of high costs, loss of content through migration, and rejection by users of the new technology. All these fears are real.
The real reason for failure is the idea that the team would leave one well-known system and replace it with a completely new one that comes with a steep learning curve.
You don’t have to do all of this. In fact, you don’t have to do any of this.
You can take another path, another approach.
Modularity: The New Paradigm of ECM Modernization
Integration can avoid the pitfalls of modernizing front-end ECM.
Instead of risky migration, high costs, and confused employees, you can just integrate a modern front-end ECM to your existing back-end ECM software.
This approach is getting very popular in the last few years. Large companies that don’t want to risk the safety of their content and money, but do want to upgrade their legacy ECM software, very often employ this solution.
Changing the approach and going with the integration of a new front-end ECM to your legacy back-end ECM can be beneficial in many ways. Not only in terms of security and money, but this approach will solve all of your ‘outdated ECM problems’.
According to a Forrester survey, only 7% of the organizations surveyed have migrated all their content to a new ECM system. The majority of surveyed organizations retain some or most content in their old systems.
This survey indicates that almost 90% of organizations that modernized their ECM adopted this modular approach.
Of course, modernizing your outdated ECM system has to be more than just an abstract goal. It needs to result in improved business outcomes.
Updating your infrastructure to take advantage of the benefits of a more modern cloud-based structure requires a content integration platform – and one that is flexible enough to evolve over time.
We’ve had a lot of positive experiences in doing such a modular ECM Modernization strategy with ArkCase.
Transforming Legacy ECM With ArkCase as Front-End ECM
ArkCase offers an adaptive case management platform that is dynamic to support your business solutions. At the convergence of CRM, ECM, and BPM, ArkCase can help your enterprise reduce the complexity and unpredictability of your organization.
The ArkCase front-end ECM will replace your outdated ECM interface with a customizable interface that is easy to work with and organize. The modern features this solution offers can make all the difference for large businesses.
The ArkCase front-end ECM can easily integrate with almost any back-end ECM system on the market including:
- Apache Chemistry
- IBM SmartCloud
This unique capability makes ArkCase an excellent frontend ECM solution for your existing ECM backend system. It also provides:
- Fast searchability of documents
- Metadata strategies included
- Customization of workflows
- Document clustering
- Data extraction, etc.
With ArkCase integration, you will get all the benefits of modern front-end ECM software without the need for full-fledged data migration, making the ECM modernization process much cheaper, safer, and faster.
“ArkCase software, which helps companies do more with less really appeals to our business units,” says Ian Rushton, Senior Vice President of Sharecare.
“Companies want to manage cases, search across their enterprise, and keep their existing systems, but don’t want to use or integrate 10 different tools.”
If you want to achieve the same, ArkCase is the right front-end ECM solution for you.
To Sum Up
Those 90% enterprises who took the survey already know that modernization helps in becoming faster and smarter in day-to-day operations, decision making, and delivery. Companies that fail to modernize risk falling behind their market competitors.
While some early adopters spent a lot of resources on ECM modernization, the more cautious majority can benefit from all the lessons learned and move on with modular ECM modernization. This way, they benefit from a more established set of procedures and experiences, adding up to a safer, faster, cheaper modernization process.
Integrate your existing backend ECM system with ArkCase modern front-end ECM and you will enjoy the benefits of a modern ECM system. No security risks. No migration. Just an integration. In fact, almost 90% of organizations that modernized their ECM did exactly that.
And for ArkCase and the benefits this platform brings, I wrote an article on this subject: Traditional Ecm: The Limitations And Risks Of Relying On Outdated ECM Systems.
They both elaborate on ECM modernization, back-end and front-end integration, and all of the benefits that a platform like ArkCase can bring to your organization.
If you want to find out more about this subject, please feel free to take a look at them.
And if you have any questions or thoughts, do not hesitate to contact us.
Even highly effective legal practices can improve their document organization to speed up locating information. While file organization is vital, it is not always obvious how to improve it, regardless of whether you are using a digital or manual filing system. It’s even more difficult if you are using a combination of both.
Legal case management software can be the solution to your organization problem, though firms often resist making changes. Many agencies may not want to spend what they believe to be a significant amount of money on a new system, unconvinced that the ROI will be worth the upfront cost.
Other firms may see open-source case management as an incomplete solution. This attitude is driven by the belief that legal case management software is inefficient and doesn’t solve any of the problems that an agency may have.
Without an open-source case management program, however, many firms will have to put up with disorganized filing systems, communication breakdowns, missed deadlines, and much more.
It’s worth looking at how an open-source case management program will be able to help your law firm increase productivity. We will look at five key areas for improvement.
Encourages Team Collaboration
One of the largest issues that many legal firms may have is trying to schedule meetings between partners. Traditionally, legal firms have had to use third-party scheduling and collaboration software that doesn’t connect with the rest of the programs that are being used.
With modern case management software, however, you’ll be able to significantly reduce the time and effort needed for scheduling. Instead of having to search for everyone’s availability manually, the program will do it for you and book that time for a meeting and send automated notifications and meeting reminders.
Rescheduling a meeting with an open-source case management program is also quite easy, and is typically just drag and drop to when you would prefer to hold the meeting. Meeting invites can include any files and documents needed, making it impossible to forget them.
Improve File Organization & Meet Deadlines
Meeting deadlines is vital in the legal world, but manually tracking workloads is insufficient to keep up with a busy schedule. Meetings and deadlines can be overlooked as a result. This can also happen if you’re using a variety of programs to manage your workload. Constantly switching between them could mean that you’ll overlook a certain deadline.
With legal case management software, it’s much simpler to browse through the system and see when your deadlines are. These are listed chronologically, so you can see which ones are coming up and what you need to prepare. If a deadline is moved, you’ll be notified quickly. With a chronological visual presentation, you can be immediately aware of upcoming events.
Coordinating Communication & Document Retrieval
Keeping client contact details on hand and up-to-date is critical. If you use several independent systems to store client information, client details could be scattered throughout several of them. Consolidating your client contact data will ensure that you have all the details needed, making communication with clients much easier.
An efficient client tracking system will also allow you to pull up relevant files when you’re speaking with them. With a manual filing system, this is a much slower, error-prone process.
Depending on multiple, non-integrated digital systems will add time and effort to the communications and document retrieval process. More modern legal case management software brings all of this together in one easy-to-use system. You should be able to type in a client’s name and have everything you need on-screen.
Time Tracking & Billing
Accurate client billing requires an accurate time tracking solution. An effective time-tracking solution must be simple to use and accessible from anywhere. Modern case management software lets you enter your billable hours into the system, automatically links them to a case, and allows your firm to provide transparent and accurate billing.
This can also be accomplished when you’re away from the office. As a result, you can input an accurate amount of billable time before you forget about adding it.
The ability to search long legal documents quickly is vital to an efficient practice. With some software solutions, this isn’t available, which can lead to a significant amount of time being wasted searching through documents.
This can be especially true when trying to differentiate between various documents related to the same case. Modern case management software allows you to input metadata for each document, i.e., the topics and other relevant information about the document. This information ensures that the legal case management software creates easily searchable documents and files. Through this, as well as an in-document search, you’ll be able to save a considerable amount of time and effort looking through records.
Legal professionals need to be able to remotely
- Access documents
- File documents
- Check client records and notes.
Many legal professionals have experienced needing a particular document only to realize they left it back in the office. With an open-source case management program, this shouldn’t be an issue since you’ll be able to access the digitized documents securely and remotely. This is especially true if there are limited physical copies of a particular document, and several people in different locations need. Utilizing modern case management software allows you to be productive regardless of where you’re based for the day.
Open-Source case management is often much more affordable than you think, making it time- and cost-effective approach to solving many of the critical issues that your law firm may be facing.
Subscribe to our newsletter or contact us today to find out how our legal case management software can help you. With our tailored approach to dealing with our clients, you’ll be able to ensure that your documentation and billing system is efficient, accessible, productive, and accurate.
It would be good to have some text here about e-discovery since it could be very relevant and required in some legal case management systems.
As the volume, velocity, and variety of content changes, so does the way in which that content is managed. The new scale and nature of enterprise content make older enterprise content management (ECM) systems outdated.
In today’s information-centric business landscape, outdated ECM systems can be a threat to an enterprise’s success.
According to research conducted by AIIM, outdated ECM software solutions have an architecture that isn’t suitable for modern needs.
According to their research, an outdated ECM system could put your enterprise at risk and end up costing much more than implementing a new approach.
The Limitations and Risks of Outdated ECM Systems
The key issue for outdated ECM systems is the risk it may bring to your enterprise, not only that outdated ECM systems can’t help your enterprise evolve and advance, but they can cause delays and setbacks.
Here’s what the researched companies in AIIM’s survey said about their ECM systems:
- Over 50% of the companies say that most of their content lives outside of their ECM system.
- About 30% said they experience serious business disruption after less than an hour of ECM downtime.
- About 43% feel that current cloud ECM collaboration doesn’t have the proper functionality.
- 32% of organizations said that in 2016, cost and efficiency were the top reasons to implement an ECM system, but the cost to go live is reportedly much less than the total cost of an ECM solution.
- Over 62% said they found it difficult to share information with colleagues, customers, suppliers, and partners.
- A staggering 79.3% said that lack of integration between their organization’s content management system and core business applications was a real stumbling block.
- 5% said that scaling out information management systems to other processes beyond its original deployment was also proving an impasse.
All of these percentages point to significant problems that need to be addressed. There are also tangible risks involved in using outdated or proprietary solutions that lack a modern, open architecture that allows easier integration with other systems.
The Easy Way to Keep up With New Technologies?
There is a solution, and it’s not as scary as people think it is.
Having been in this business for over 20 years has taught me that the decision to migrate onto a modern ECM system is the one thing enterprises try to avoid as much as they can.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that the technical issue of Migration isn’t really the problem. The real issue is inertia. Unwillingness to change. Too many organizations choose not to change and hope things will somehow
work themselves out.
In projects we’ve worked on recently, I’ve found that there can be a software solution that helps you migrate smoothly onto a cloud-base ECM system that is FedRAMP compliant. It’s called ArkCase.
ArkCase is a dynamic open-source case management and IT modernization platform that extends your ECM solution. It acts as a modern front-end ECM system that can integrate with just about any backend document management system you have.
ArkCase integrates with a lot of different repositories using content management interoperability services (CMIS). Below are logos of some CMIS compliant systems that ArkCase can integrate with and they’re constantly adding new partners:
Figure 1: CMIS compliant content management systems
This integration to almost any backend content management system with the modern front-end platform of ArkCase can reduce all the limitations and risks your organization may be struggling with. Thanks to this versatility, it’s much easier for organizations to go ahead with an ECM Migration project.
“[the] ArkCase software, which helps companies do more with less, really appeals to our business units… Companies want to manage cases, search across their enterprise, and keep their existing systems, but don’t want to use or integrate 10 different tools,” says Ian Rushton, Senior Vice President of Sharecare.
Now, if you like the idea of ECM modernization stay with me because in the below section I will focus a bit more on the benefits you will get from this modernization approach.
Meet the New ECM
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a set of defined processes, strategies and tools that allow a business to effectively obtain, organize, store and deliver critical information to its employees, business stakeholders, and customers.
To have an outdated ECM software and do that successfully is nearly impossible, and even dangerous giving the cyber threats. On the other hand, migrating to a new ECM software can be a risky, expensive, and time-consuming process as it involves integrating with other systems needed in your organization’s workflow and data management.
This is why technology vendors are thinking in terms of integrated solutions, rather than migration of discrete, isolated parts of an entire system of how organizations work with their data.
Here are a few added-value benefits companies get from having this approach of integrated solutions.
Data Extraction and Tagging
Gathering important information from business documents is a crucial business process – and also very time-consuming with outdated ECM systems. This way employees need to review each document and manually key data into various business systems, creating tedious and error-prone tasks. To add to the problem, as organizations and processing demands grow, so do their workforce requirements.
Thanks to ArkCase and its integration capabilities, once documents are captured and classified, the platform can automatically and accurately extract the critical information using AI/ML integrations from AWS — extracting and organizing information from the existing pool of documents helps organizations achieve more in less time.
Fast Searchability of Documents
The ability to search and quickly find the right document is one of the biggest and most important tasks among the ECM. The unfortunate part is that an outdated ECM system cannot support document search – metadata search, document content searches, proximity searches, etc.
ArkCase has a solution for that. ArkCase is capable of indexing content created in different kinds of formats to include social media, audio, video, etc. Once the indexing is done, all of your digitized information is easily accessible and discoverable by your employees, while enforcing role-based access control. In addition, ArkCase integrates with eDiscovery and records management platforms to provide holds and automated dispositioning of information.
Another very important, but very often overlooked detail is how companies use document metadata. Metadata provides the descriptive tags or context that act as a reference point for search engines in determining what should be associated with that specific piece of content. A typical metadata description in Enterprise Search Solutions can include things such as:
- Name of author
- Name of customer
- Business department
- Case Type
- Other descriptive categories
Without the appropriate information being provided in an organized way, your enterprise search system does not know what to look for. This results in employees getting unfiltered search results causing inefficiencies in daily tasks.
For companies that use ArkCase, the platform will support the metadata strategy, making the search an easy, timely and effective task for your employees.
The image above is from ArkCase of the search results page. The table shows the results themselves, as well as metadata-oriented filtering. Keep in mind though, that the data itself doesn’t have to be altered. The documents are still residing in their original document management platform. What ArkCase does, in this case, is add the very needed extra functionality of metadata management.
In addition, ArkCase provides rich reporting and business analytics capability. The metadata stored within ArkCase can be used for canned or ad hoc reports as well as predictive analytics to find patterns or trends within the information.
As a sub-set of metadata management, clustering of documents around common features is yet another benefit of using a modern front-end system atop of an old, existing document management solution.
This process of dividing a set of document collections into a different number of groups based on document contents-similarity is very helpful for users. This ability allows enterprises to:
- Understand the similarities between documents
- Understand how they are related
- Manage similar documents easily.
ArkCase allows users to make inferences and find similarities that otherwise would not have been possible.
The execution and automation of business processes where tasks, information, or documents are transferred from one participant to another for different kind of actions can be pretty complicated and time-consuming. That is if you are stuck with an outdated ECM system that allows only for pre-defined workflows.
The ArkCase platform integration allows you to model the lifecycle for each business entity (case files, tasks, documents). The platform allows easy customization using a simple drag and drop functionality. This allows you and your employees to customize your own workflows, save time, and increase the efficiency of your ECM.
Outdated ECM systems can do more damage than good to your enterprise. But high cost and complexity are keeping organizations from migrating from an outdated or proprietary ECM system onto a modern or open-source platform. Luckily, some vendors are taking a different approach. It’s more a process of integrated solutions rather than an isolated, modern ECM component that companies then need to somehow integrate into their existing workflow.
Using the integrated ArkCase system can make the ECM Modernization a much easier decision. Cloud-based, FedRAMP compliant, providing easy search, document clustering, reporting, analytics, collaboration, and workflow customization are just a few of the many benefits this integration approach with ArkCase can bring to your enterprise.
If you have any questions or would like to hear how Armedia can help your organization with your IT Modernization, please do not hesitate to contact us.