When it comes to the level of importance placed on automating business processes, research by AIIM reveals that this is high on the list for many organizations. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents report that this is a “must do” in their business model, making it more of a requirement than a “nice to have.” This priority was the driving force behind a project recently initiated with a leading law firm.
The firm, a full-service business and litigation law firm, is committed to thoughtful problem solving and improving the bottom line for its clients. Most importantly, the firm applies the same approach to enhancing its own operational efficiency. Initially, the firm saw an opportunity to improve its records management program. Now we are working together on creating a roadmap for innovation. The firm’s goal is to continue to evolve and achieve significant business benefits over the next few years by leveraging digital technologies and implementing innovative business process improvement approaches.
Solving records management challenges
The project began when the firm recognized the need to advance its records management operations. The goal was for the initiative to span a variety of objectives: better manage and develop the firm’s records management staff, expand information governance best practices, reduce a backlog of files and implement standardized records management processes and procedures.
Compounding these challenges was the fact that the firm’s records management staff and legal files were not situated in a centralized location. Rather, files were in the possession of administrative assistants, attorneys and other employees who were spread throughout the firm’s main office and three satellite operations. Based on this and other records management practices, the firm decided that an outsourcing solution made sense. Working together, the firm and our team set their sights on taking the firm’s program to the next level.
A multifaceted solution
The project team began by collaborating on assessing workflows and daily activities that supported the firm’s records management operations. The next step was to implement a multifaceted solution. This began with the records management staff by introducing more effective, standardized processes that helped increase operational efficiency and reduce costs.
Another key element of the solution, based on findings from the assessment, was to relocate the firm’s records management staff and all of the firm’s files to a centralized file room operation. The project teams also worked on reducing the firm’s backlog of files. Central to this effort was implementing a process for identifying inactive versus open or active files, as well as streamlining the ability to locate and identify missing files from an average of four days to 48 hours.
The team also established a system for tracking key documents such as incoming, outgoing and transfer files and monitoring activities including the number of file boxes being sent to and received from offsite storage. One result from instituting these systems and practices was the elimination of approximately 5,000 boxes of files from the firm’s offsite storage location.
A new goal
Over time, the firm looked to build on the gains it was realizing from the records management solutions and best practices that were being initiated. The new goal was to leverage similar approaches to drive process improvements in the firm’s office administrative services, including its copy and print center operation. Like its thoughtful approach to solving client problems, the firm joined forces with our team to solve its own business challenges and create a blueprint for growth and competitive advantage during the next several years. The strategy, currently unfolding, includes capitalizing on digital technology and workflow automation to drive more efficient business processes, including reduced paper usage.
While continuing to implement improvements in its records management program, the law firm has expanded its transformation initiative to include enhancing print center operations for all of the firm’s main offices. This includes creating a digital intake center, a hybrid mail room and scanning service that uses specialized mail scanning technology and workflow techniques to convert physical mail into digital information immediately upon receipt. With the digital intake center, currently being implemented in a phased rollout, documents will be received, opened, scanned and ingested into the firm’s workflow.
With these new approaches, the firm is supporting its vision of innovation and business process improvement with a special focus on maintaining a competitive edge and delivering the highest quality client service.