At the most basic level, paperless systems see legal departments creating, saving and sharing documents electronically, which increase efficiency at multiple levels. But that’s not the only advantage paperless legal departments see. More importantly, smart legal data repositories help legal teams increase security, improve cross-department collaboration, implement data governance, mitigate risk and provide more strategic counsel.
The truth is you simply can’t afford NOT to implement electronic document storage. Here’s why…
How paper is putting your business at risk
For businesses large and small, effectively managing your legal information is a key to success.
Here are just a few ways avoiding paperless digital transformation is putting your business at risk:
1. Data loss due to disaster
Certainly the worst case scenario for any company is finding out that data has been destroyed by a natural or man-made disaster. If you have a paper-based archive room, just imagine the consequences of coming into work only to find out the whole thing went up in smoke! In many cases, company’s must keep physical records, but to protect your data from physical handling or adverse conditions, it’s vital that you have digital files. Unlike paper documents that require additional physical copies to serve as back-ups, digital files are can easily be retrieved.
2. Time and cost Paper archives require room and this means spending money to rent space to store documents (onsite or offsite) and hiring dedicated staff to manage your archives. Fetching information from archives is also time-consuming, meaning that while you’re sorting through filing cabinets, other important tasks have to take a back seat. This can cause bottlenecks in business processes, and even lead to delays in projects or costly consequences.
Instead, digital files can be stored on the cloud (requiring no physical space or IT infrastructure) and can be retrieved as quickly as it takes to conduct a Google-like search!
3. Inefficient collaboration Most business processes require collaboration with different department and multiple documents at each step. When you don’t use an electronic storage system, you lose time chasing down colleagues for information or source documents, and Legal can be seen as a bottleneck to getting things done.
Instead, when all your information is at your fingertips, business processes flow smoothly and you can empower colleagues by granting access to legal documents and templates to standardize their work.
4. Ineffective decision making When important legal data is hidden in filing cabinets it can impossible to have an accurate overview of your legal matters, compromising your ability to proactively manage risks, identify business opportunities and ensure compliance. Instead, when all your legal documents are easy to locate, you can keep track of deadlines, obligations, notice periods and more.
Furthermore, when you don’t have a systematic way to organize legal documents, you can never be 100% sure that the information you have is the latest, most accurate. If business decisions are made with wrong or incomplete data, the consequences can range from fines (in the case of audits) to a loss in reputation, market share, operating licenses or revenues.
5. Failure to protect sensitive data
With the increased talk of cyber-attacks, ransomware and data theft, security is an ongoing, growing concern. While you might think that your paper archives are safe, studies have found that the biggest cybersecurity threat to companies are internal leaks or breaches. This is especially true in offices where contracts are left on desks, in copy machines or in unlocked filing cabinets.
Electronic document storage can give you powerful tools to better mitigate the risk of insider threats. Effective passwords, management of users’ access rights and encryption of sensitive data are just a few ways that you can control who has access to documents. Also, by using electronic signatures and time-stamps you can significantly reduce the risks of unauthorized access and loss of data integrity that are associated by “print-sign-scan” processes.
Going paperless: Helping you be more strategic
Improved business efficiency is one of the core benefits associated with going paperless – but it can also help you assume a more strategic role.
By adopting a systematic way to organize all your legal documents in a single database, you can compile, present and share accurate reports with the C-suite or with potential investors or buyers in the event of due diligence or audits. Cloud-based repositories, like Legisway, not only organize your documents, but also provide you with smart tools like tasks, workflows and alerts can help you set up proper data governance and stay in control of legal risks. For instance, you can set alerts for certain compliance issues and automatically trigger a set of tasks to resolve issues.
In short, when your data is in a smart repository, you can assume a more proactive, strategic role which can help your company be more competitive and successful!
Learn how in-house lawyers in small organizations can accelerate their evolution from legal counsel to strategic-minded business partner by making wise investments in technology by downloading our latest guide: “The Changing Role of General Counsel”.