Document Automation vs Document Management Software – What’s the Difference?

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Improving speed and accuracy will mean a competitive advantag

Your clients want you to adopt legal technology now to increase efficiency. Clients are becoming more knowledgeable about what technology is available to lawyers, so they want you to serve them faster, better, and cheaper.

One way you can meet your clients’ demands is to make better use of document automation software and document management tools in your legal practice. These tools share a similar focus; both want to increase speed, efficiency and accuracy. Yet, the goals of the two types of software are very different. Basically, think of document automation software as a tool to create legal documents, and document management software as a tool to store the documents we create.

How do we create it?

Thinking back on all the different tools used throughout history to create and convey information, it becomes clear how far we’ve come. From twigs, chisels, and brushes, to quills, fountain pens, and printing presses. Now, more and more, our fingers type text into digital devices to create documents. But even this is a chore. What if the document could create itself? Document automation software empowers lawyers to automate the repetitive, time consuming process of document creation. Lawyers do not need any IT experience to use good document automation software. Once a document is automated, anybody can come along and answer questions to get a perfect, customised document.

Now, where should we put it?

When paper was invented, we began storing it and organising it in files and filing cabinets. Software systems then emerged to deal with paper-based documents, and more recently, electronic documents.

Today, document management software helps you to access, retrieve, edit, and store all of your documents. If the document management system is really good, it increases your convenience, security, and efficiency.

What a load of creation!

Considering most of the world’s data has been created within the past 5 years, that’s a heavy load! Law firms, in particular, know the pain of tracking, retrieving, and storing large quantities of documents. Complicating the challenge of dealing with document overload, are confidentiality and privacy regulations and other strict compliance requirements.

As a result, more law firms are moving to cloud-based legal document management systems. Accessing documents from anywhere, anytime, is what makes this document management solution so popular. If you’re using an on-premise solution and are looking for a cloud-based one, look for a major cloud platform computing vendor who understands the mandates law firms must follow regarding how a document is accessed, stored, changed, and distributed.

The software vendor will want you to know about their document management software’s components. Things like scalability, versioning (check-in/check- out), security, integration and collaboration. But, we don’t want you to freak out. Think of document management components like conditions of a contract, you’ll only want the ones appropriate for your situation.

Free yourself from document disarray

If done effectively, document automation reduces the creation load on document management. When the automation process is agreed on from the beginning, there is less document management to do. Document automation software bypasses many steps that would otherwise be dependent on document management software. Some of these steps include the digital shuffling of emails, and document uploading and downloading.

Take a typical legal document lifecycle, for example. A client, named Ivana Willplease, requests a will. Staff at law firm, Olde, Stub, & Bourne, meet Ivana and interview her to take her instructions and make written notes during the interview. The staff scan the written will instructions and store them in the firm’s document management system. The staff then dig out a will precedent form and create a draft will for Ivana, and this draft will is saved in the firm’s document management system. The staff then email a copy of the Will to Ivana for her review. Ivana wants some changes to the will and emails the staff about them. The staff amend the draft will and email it to Ivana for her final review. Ivana emails the staff back and confirms the will is ready to be signed. All these emails back and forth are saved in the firm’s document management system. The staff then meet with Ivana and she signs her will. Finally, a copy of the executed will is saved in the firm’s document management system before it is put away in the deeds safe.

But, if staff at Olde, Stub & Bourne had automated their will document, they would have increased their chances of getting the will correct the first time, and eliminated the need for amended versions of the will, and multiple email correspondence. Olde, Stub & Bourne could also have offered the will to Ivana as a self-service product. Then, Ivana could have completed a simple interview to get the resulting document, with no extra input needed from the firm selling the document. Effort spent on automation is important as it can decrease the documents to manage.

How do you plan to evolve?

Automated document creation software is a major legal practice management trend of 2017. If your clients are demanding better, faster, and cheaper services, it’s time to get trendy.

By using automation, lawyers save time typing, dictating, cutting and pasting, formatting, and delivering repeat documentation. Turn your high volume, low margin legal services into automated products to sell over and over again, with a minimum of extra effort.

Using just your web browser and our clever interview bot, Automio, you can automate the processes in your business and give your clients what they want.

If you want to find out if document automation will help you to serve your clients better, book a free online demo of Automio. Automio is automation software that empowers lawyers to automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks like drafting legal documents.

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