This is the first of a multi-part series on why Time Matters users should move to NetDocuments for their Document and Email Management needs.
It’s time for Time Matters users to start using NetDocuments.
OTB Consulting has been the leading Time Matters consultancy for more than 2 decades. During that time, we have installed the Time Matters Document and Email Management System (DMS/EMS) in hundreds of law firms and have migrated over 30 million documents into it. We personally used the DMS/EMS for over a decade.
While we have hundreds of Time Matters clients who continue to use the Swiss Army Knife of legal practice management systems, we believe it is time for you to use a dedicated DMS/EMS system. Having successfully transitioned over a dozen Time Matters firms, we believe that NetDocuments should be that system.
Email Overload is the Problem
For a DMS/EMS that is part of a practice management system, Time Matters gets the job done. BUT it is time for Time Matter users to consider moving to a dedicated DMS/EMS … and the reason has everything to do with Email.
Why does email make the difference? Today, law firms and lawyers receive and generate emails and documents at a ratio of about 100/1. That’s right, for every 1 document that a law firm generates or receives, it generates or receives 100 emails. This should come as no surprise to anyone. You see it every day as you get frustrated with your full email inbox and the hundreds of emails you receive. More proof? The hottest legal specific software genre going today is e-discovery software because pouring over physical boxes of documents is no longer the litigation discovery nightmare scenario – it’s the millions and millions of emails that have to be dealt with.
Without a doubt, the number one frustration we see with lawyers and law firms is the overwhelming amount of email they receive, and how difficult it is to handle it.
How Do Time Matters Users Handle Email?
The Time Matters DMS/EMS handles email in two ways (you can use both but should use just one).
The first way, which has been around since 2000, is to save emails into the Time Matters Email database in a proprietary format. The “metadata” (date, time, subject, from, to, cc, etc.) and the “message” of the email are stored as a data record in a SQL database. The attachments are split out of the email and stored separately in a secured folder on your server, and are logically related to the associated database record.
A few years ago, Time Matters started allowing users to save email in their native “.msg” format. Instead of a proprietary format, the metadata, message and attachments remain in the .msg “envelope” and are stored as a Time Matters Document record instead of an Email record.
Anyone that started using Time Matters before 2012 had to store email as a proprietary email. When Time Matters introduced the alternative to save email as a .msg document, older firms would have had email in two places if they switched. Firms that have more recently begun to use Time Matters have, for the most part, saved email as a .msg document.
With that background, why is it we think you should switch to NetDocuments?
Problems with the Proprietary Email Format
Saving emails in a proprietary, non-.msg format is simply no longer tenable for several reasons.
First, the proprietary format for sending and replying doesn’t look professional. Because email has all but replaced paper correspondence, clients expect to see professional looking emails. When an email is saved into Time Matters in its proprietary format, and then subsequently opened and replied to, it looks like something you would expect to see in the 90s or 00s. To effectuate this, email needs to be stored in its native .msg format in Time Matters.
Second, from time to time law firms need to extract email from Time Matters. If the emails have been stored in the TM proprietary format, this is very difficult and expensive. Law firms need to extract email for two main reasons:
- when partners leave and take clients with them, or a client leaves and needs their file;
- and for litigation purposes
When either of these happen, and you have to produce the emails for a file, it isn’t pretty. When you were saving an email for every 10 documents, it wasn’t a problem. Now that you have a 100/1 ratio, it simply is too difficult and risky. Here’s why:
- Because the TM Emails are in proprietary format, you have to reconstitute them to try to get them back in their original format. There are programs available to do that, but they are not inexpensive (they shouldn’t be, they are highly specialized programs). And, it takes a lot of time to do all this.
- Even if you can reconstitute them, they aren’t the original emails. You can’t say, “here is the email,” with any level of certainty. If you have to prove that this the email, you can’t state it is the original. You will have to carry the burden of proving that is the original email, broken down into a proprietary format, and then properly reconstituted.
- For departing partners, or clients that request their email, you can’t easily do that if you have stored them in the Time Matters DMS/EMS. Someone to locate all the email attachments and then stich all that together at a new location. This is costly and imperfect.
Because emails are stored in their original format in NetDocuments, with attachments stored with them, it’s quite easy to locate and export emails in a format that is exactly as it was received, and can be used as a native email in any application.
It is far more difficult to save an email in Time Matters.
In NetDocuments, you can save a majority of your emails with a single click, or less.
- For most email you receive or send, NetDocuments’ predictive technology auto-matches email with the Case/Matter it is associated with.
- With NetDocuments’ “Conversation filing” function, once an email is saved to a Case/Matter, all subsequent emails in that thread or conversation are automatically saved with no intervention on the user’s part.
- If an email is sent to more than one person in the firm, only one needs to save the email and the other recipients will see that the email has been saved.
- For those that prefer dragging and dropping, NetDocuments can reside within Outlook and emails can be dragged to the appropriate folder.
- If you like to use folders in Outlook, in addition to being able to drag and drop to them, folders can be mapped to the associated Case/Matter in NetDocuments. When you move an email to the Outlook folder, it is automatically saved to the mapped Case/Matter in NetDocuments.
Saving email in Time Matters requires that you add an email record that has to be opened, completed, and then saved. This requires that you select a Code, and then select the Case/Matter to which the email is associated. Doing all this requires numerous mouse clicks and typing. With NetDocuments saving email is a one-click process, at worst, with the likelihood that your email will be saved in most instances with no clicks needed.
Saving email in Time Matters as a proprietary email, something we don’t recommend any more, does have some Case/Matter predictive capabilities. But it relies exclusively on the sending and receiving email address, has no additional predictive capabilities, and none of the advanced features found in NetDocuments.
When saving email as a document in Time Matters, which is what we now recommend, there are no predictive filing capabilities. You have to manually perform a database lookup to relate the email to the appropriate Case/Matter. Additionally, none of the metadata is extracted and stored when you save an email as a document. This means that the to, from, cc, and bcc fields are not extracted and not available for searching. If you want that information you have to manually enter it, all of which takes a lot of time.
From a ROI perspective, this alone would likely pay for NetDocuments.
It takes at least 5-10 seconds more per email to save into Time Matters than NetDocuments. This results in lost time, and likely less email being saved when users get frustrated and give up. Once they give up, it means that your history of email is not complete, and that staff members’ Inboxes are clogged up, breeding inefficiency.
Complete v. Incomplete Information
As alluded to above, when you save an email in NetDocuments, the document type – Email – is automatically saved. The subject and all metadata – date and time the email was sent and received, the to, from, cc, and bcc information is all extracted and entered into NetDocuments. The metadata, the message and the attachments are all indexed and ready to be searched with a few seconds of the email being saved. You have a viewer that allows you to view the email without opening it, and you can “page through” your emails as you do in Outlook.
With Time Matters, very little to none of this happens. The subject is automatically entered. But you have to enter the document type, and the date entered into the system for searching is the date and time the data record was created in Time Matters, not the date and time of the email. The to, from, cc, and bcc information is not extracted and put into Time Matters for subsequent searching. The little metadata that is saved is searchable using one method in Time Matters, while the rest of the email and its attachments are searchable only if you have configured the Document Search function of Time Matters, and often is not available until the next day (the indexes are typically run at night).
From an ROI perspective, your searches in NetDocuments will be more accurate as Time Matters doesn’t store any of the relevant metadata – you can’t do a search of emails by who an email is to, from, cc, etc. Not being able to effectively search for your emails will result in incomplete searches, and a considerable waste of time.
Simply put, you can’t easily view emails in Time Matters when you save them as documents. With NetDocuments your ability to view your emails is very similar to what you experience in Outlook. In NetDocuments, you can have a listing of all the emails in a Case/Matter with a viewer to the right of the list. Using your mouse or the up and down arrows on your keyboard you can work your way through your emails viewing them in their entirety.
Time Matters does not provide an email viewer. You have to open an email, view it, close it, and then move to the next one. Open, close, move to the next one. In other words, something no one does. With the proprietary email, there is a way to view your emails, and walk through them. But again, we don’t recommend that.
From a ROI value perspective this either causes a great waste of time, or it means people can’t efficiently and effectively use the email that they save.
With NetDocuments, you can then use Outlook for your email, which provides a more professional look and feel. Should you need to extract your emails for whatever reason, what is a time-consuming and expensive job with the Time Matters EMS/DMS can be done much faster, easier, and will be far less expensive. Your staff will easily save minutes, if not hours, per day managing their email. And, because it is easier, they will actually save the email into a shared repository where it is accessible by those that need to read it. The entire email, including all metadata is available for easy searching and viewing.
NetDocuments and ndMail costs $60 per user per month. Just looking at the email component of the service, we are confident that you would save that much in the first day of each month for every user.
Tom Caffrey says
Great analysis from a high quality consultant. Good to see you posting again.