DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT WHITE PAPER

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1 DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT WHITE PAPER STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE YOU SPEND ANY MONEY POSSIBLE SCENARIO Your firm s Document Management System (DMS) Project has been put on hold until cash flow is healthier. Does that mean you should stop all work? Definitely not! There s still much to do in preparing for this project that will help to reduce the overall cost of your implementation and migration effort. If you have taken on this task, it is probably because a) you have often thought We need an efficient way to get some control over how documents are managed in this firm! or b) you were volunteered. Either way, now that you know you re going to do it, the question remaining is how? Before attempting to answer this question, there are other questions that must first be asked which will influence your how. This document will explore some of the questions and issues associated with the migration of legacy documents into a new DMS. This paper deals solely with the movement of electronic documents. By the end of this white paper, you should have a solid understanding of these items as well as some ideas for improving your odds at success. WHAT In preparation for any large scale migration of content, it is important to know what information currently exists on the legacy systems. Many firms quickly identify the F drive or G drive as the location of all the organization s documents. The IT consultant is brought in to move all of the content to the DMS. Once all of the files in this structure are ready to go, the software is rolled out to the desktops and folks are in the DMS. That s it right? Unfortunately, in many firms, users often find inventive ways to create their own individual or workgroup silos of information. Content can often be found on hard drives, personal folders on the network or buried somewhere deep within an application directory. The analyst who is preparing for a migration must seek to understand from which application all of the company s information is created to understand where all of the company s information resides as well as gain a good understanding of its purpose. The question might be asked, Why do I need to care about the purpose of the content, I m just migrating it to a new location? The answer; this is a perfect opportunity to document the types of data that the firm is maintaining in order to prepare for eventual records management requirements as well as reduce risk by identifying content that potentially should be destroyed or better secured. In addition, a solid understanding of the data can allow the migration team to consolidate similar content or to identify duplication thus enabling users to resolve conflicting information and spurious document versions. This process shouldn t be seen as just a way to take data from one place and dump it in another. It should be seen as an opportunity to gain better organizational control over the benefits and risks associated with your firm s content. Once you are aware of what content exists within your infrastructure, the question becomes What content to bring into the DMS. Content can be loosely categorized as the following: CATEGORY Intellectual Property & Client Work Administrative Activities Personal Content DESCRIPTION Content created for your clients relating to all services to them including work product, transactional documents and any other content that supports the company s business activities with the client. Content related to the internal administration activities of the organization including policies and procedures, best practices, etc. for all depts. (i.e. Accounting, HR, Marketing, Facilities, etc.) Content maintained by individual users for personal reasons including resumes, professional development, training, personal communications, etc. 1 of 6 RBRO Solutions

2 Within the three categories of content exists another sorting to consider. This is related to the Type of documents that exists within the general categories (i.e. Word documents, spreadsheets, pdfs, databases, text files, s, etc.) Remember, while many document management systems are very robust in their ability to handle multiple file formats, not all types of content are practical candidates for inclusion into your DMS repository. A careful review should be performed in order to fully qualify how each type of document is accessed and used. This will help to determine whether inclusion will help or hinder your users. Other items such as frequency of access as well as whether or not the related applications are actively or passively integrated into the DMS solution should also be considered. HOW FAR Once you have determined what content you have and what categories and types of documents you wish to import, the question How far back? must be answered. How many years worth of data exists on your legacy file system? Of that content, what remains relevant? For example, an accounting firm is preparing to migrate all of their electronic documents to the DMS, however, within the Tax Department file store there is a folder containing thousands of tax returns dated from Should this content be migrated to the DMS? Are these still active clients? What are the regulatory requirements around the maintenance and disposal of this type of content based on age? Aside from regulatory compliance, are there other factors affecting what will be kept based on the relevance of legal precedents? (i.e. Outdated laws or the retention of policy documents which could be required in the case of litigation launched due to actions during a different time period). An important consideration, especially for documents that are not text base or full text searchable, is whether or not there is sufficient information available about the content to enable users to effectively locate the content if it was added to the DMS? If the content is nearing expiry but not yet expired, keep in mind that inclusion into the DMS allows the organization to more accurately track the retention events associated with the content. Regardless of how far back you decide to go, the application of any date-based filter on content will give rise to further considerations as to whether the out of scope items are part of active long running engagements or matters. The question in this scenario; Is it acceptable to break-up files along date-lines or should the existence of any current content in a given file effectively qualify the entire file for inclusion? TO CLEAN UP OR NOT TO CLEAN UP? Some organizations have a rigidly managed legacy folder structure which enables them to clearly identify their content and eases the migration activity. In other cases, users within the company manage their own content and create their own structures to organize their work. In a non-standard environment, it s easy to become overwhelmed by the mere suggestion that content should be re-arranged to better prepare it for migration. So how does one determine whether or not to make the investment in the person-hours that might be required to prepare a repository for migration? 2 of 6 RBRO Solutions

3 First consider a few strategies that are available to firms: STRATEGY Matter/Engagement/Activity Centric by Migration Team User Centric by Migration Team Matter/Engagement/Activity Centric by end-user Go Forward only DESCRIPTION All documents to be migrated are currently organized in a structure that enables the migration team to identify and match the content with the appropriate destination structures in the DMS. All content is migrated but only tagged based on the user s folder in which it was found. There is an assumption that there isn t much business value in the content or that it is indecipherable. Documents are migrated to the related predefined structures within the DMS. No documents are migrated; however, new documents are saved to the system as part of the new file management process. Ultimately document value is found in context. A solid understanding of the purpose behind documents in any given repository allows the user to derive potential value and make decisions about working with the content. Hence the decision as to how much effort should be invested in any cleanup effort should take into account the value of the content to the users that work within the repository. Content that is old may have been generated by staff members that are no longer with the firm. In such cases, a cleanup effort would be a frustrating exercise as current staff members try to decipher someone else s organization of their content. Possibly the activity level of the firm is such that regular staff members can t spend the time necessary to clean up their folder structures for migration. Culturally the firm may not be in a place where staff, lawyers or executives are willing to go through the exercise. If you are able to get your teams to clean up their own data or content related to their departments and practices they will reap the benefit. The cleanup exercise helps to create awareness of just what is on the system. Individuals who prepare their own structures for migration often have the added benefit of being able to locate and work with their content much more effectively after migration. Cleaning up the files and folder structures also simplifies the migration effort by allowing IT resources to directly map data in the legacy system to structures within the DMS. This increases the ability to audit the migration results, apply correct metadata and increase user adoption by reducing the pain associated with trying to locate items on Day 1 after implementation. Often when firms grudgingly enter the cleanup process, they are usually surprised to find that the effort doesn t take as long as they initially anticipated. The subsequent positive migration and rollout activity soon removes any memory of the challenges encountered during cleanup. Although a well prepared structure is desirable, this target is not always achievable. If this is the case, it s important to enable users to quickly move content into the system as it is needed. Although this process will take the firm longer, it can have one benefit of reducing the garbage that is brought into the DMS. If this method is chosen, it is important to ensure a user-based migration process is adopted to ensure that users can easily bring their content into the system with the appropriate context. Also, the configuration of workstations and network repositories should be set so users can migrate content into the DMS but removing their ability to create or modify content in the legacy structures. COMMUNICATIONS Much time is spent figuring out just what it is that needs to be done to move content into the new DMS. Unfortunately, while the migration team is figuring out the what, the how far and all other aspects of the migration effort, users are often left asking themselves What s going on?. It s important, whatever the ultimate plan of action for migration, to ensure that end-users are made aware well in advance of migration operations and have a clear understanding of the what, why and when. If they can clearly see the firm s vision it will help with buy-in and they will work with the migration team on the how. Be sure to involve key users from the beginning to help the migration team in understanding the content. In addition, 3 of 6 RBRO Solutions

4 it s very important to communicate in writing what is required of each end user in support of the migration effort. Before, during and after documentation is a must and will ensure comfort and predictability for all members of the firm. BACK TO THE HOW Once the decision has been made about what documents will be migrated and what strategy will be used the details of how must be worked out. Here are some key items that must be considered. STRUCTURE OR NO STRUCTURE Prior to migration, if your network folder structures are fairly well organized or if users are willing to do some cleanup work, it may be a good idea to duplicate these structures in order to increase post migration adoption. Under a given folder, users may have created subfolders that provide context within the matter/engagement. By preserving the structures you can help users to navigate to the new system initially with content that is easily recognizable. Go forward structures would then be made to match the new firm-approved template. If migrating from another document management system or from a network structure that has no real value, it is possible to import the content and assign it to the desired structures later. RESEARCHING THE MIGRATION TOOL There are a variety of tools that are available for large scale document migrations on the market. Ensure the tool is appropriate for use within a Matter Centric environment. There are generally two types of migrations performed, large scale IT driven or end-user driven. After you have determined your preferred method, you ll have to think about what key features a migration tool must have to help you to save time and money. For large scale migrations that will be performed by IT, select a tool with an intuitive interface that can take into account the specific needs of the firm including the ability to: Collect a listing of all documents and folders from the target repository and that enables the user to quickly apply the required metadata either manually or via automatic features that can extract the data from the filesystem structure. Perform migrations that incorporate data from a host of third party systems in the metadata set for content going into the DMS. Easily map content to matter centric structures such as workspaces and folders. Create workspaces on the fly and duplicate legacy filesystem folders in the DMS as required. Directly manipulate metadata related to the content via SQL queries. Provide a variety of migration options around placement of the new content within your DMS. View what your migrated data will look like before ever pushing the Migrate button. (very important!) For firms that don t have a structured legacy file system or who just won t be able to get the cleanup work done, select a tool that enables end-users to migrate their own documents. Features of this tool should include: Allowing the user to quickly import content into the DMS by right-clicking on single or multiple documents, or folders from within Windows Explorer. The ability to inherit metadata from the destination folders within the DMS in order to remove the need for users to profile every option. 4 of 6 RBRO Solutions

5 The ability for users to add profile information if they wish to selected content when the information is not readily available on the destination folder in the DMS. Sub-options when importing multiple documents or folders should include 'copy' or 'move'. For single documents you should be allowed to import the document as a new version of an existing document or over-write a current document. PREPARING FOLDERS FOR MIGRATION For large scale IT-driven migrations the following should be observed: Have users cleanup their folder structures to ensure that the client and engagement/matter level folders are properly setup. i.e. Client Name - XXXXXX (where X is the client code) Engagement Name XXXXXX (where X is the engagement code) Subfolder 1 Subfolder 2... The above is just an example of what might be done. The key is that the firm is consistent i.e. if the users want to prefix the client and engagement folders with the codes rather than as a suffix just ensure that the method is universal. Migration tools should be able to automatically parse the codes from the folders. It s best that all engagement folders exist at the same level for consistency sake but a good tool should be able to automatically detect which folder is the engagement folder as opposed to a subfolder or client level folder. In some situations it may be a good idea to pre-generate windows based folders that mirror the workspaces that will exist in the DMS. By creating these structures you enable your users to simply drag and drop their legacy content into these new folders in preparation for migration. Be sure to make sure that they Move (left click and drag) the content as opposed to Copy. This way file dates etc. will be preserved. The creation of these folders can be scripted based on your expected DMS templates and information from your accounting or practice management system. It s generally recommended that large scale migrations be done over a weekend so as to cause as little disruption as possible to daily work activities. Your migration tool should allow your firm to perform multiple streams of migration simultaneously so the work can be performed over an entire weekend. DELTA MIGRATIONS Some firms prefer to perform the majority of the migration effort long before migration weekend. Delta migrations are then completed the weekend of go-live. If this is your company s decision, it will be important to set markers to record the dates of files originally migrated in order to ensure that duplicates are not brought in the second time. There are tools that will allow you to track the content that has been migrated and can offer the opportunity to append new versions to existing documents in addition to importing newly created content. REPORTS It s extremely important to be able to validate the accuracy and completeness of the migration effort. Once the migration is complete, review the available logs to understand what content may not have been migrated and why. Clearly understanding the excluded content will enable the migration team to communicate issues to the user base. Missing documents for which no reason has been provided significantly reduces user confidence. Be sure to let the users know what is going on early so that they know what to expect. 5 of 6 RBRO Solutions

6 Steps used to clean up the content and steps used to apply metadata should be clearly documented in order to support future communications about the process. Solid documentation is a required asset when trying to track down the reason behind a problem. FINAL THOUGHTS The document migration effort, though seemingly daunting, can be fairly straight forward with the right amount of planning. In the absence of proper planning and without effective strategy your firm runs the risk of a budget overrun. Many organizations have spent a significant amount of money on their migration effort only to have to shell out more as they sought to fix their mistakes. This document only summarizes a few key items to give you a feel for what to expect. There are several more details that must be considered as you work through the finer points of your clean up and migration efforts. When working through this important task it s a good idea to seek help from an expert. Nothing ensures future success quite like past successful experiences. 6 of 6 RBRO Solutions

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