In the document management systems space serving legal and professional services firms, there has been a greater emphasis on the user experience. Vendors have asked for direct customer feedback on what users would like to see developed or updated in the products and have used that feedback to design new versions of the product. Flexibility has been a significant consideration. That means, in part, broadening the available computing environments beyond Windows-based operating systems. But maybe more importantly, it means creating a seamless user experience regardless of device or location.
“Users in this space, much like in other professional areas, have been more insistent that they want to be able to work anywhere,” says David Cramer, Manager, Business Development – Legal & Professional Services, at Blue Technologies Inc. “They expect their employer to provide the tools that enable them to have the same performance wherever they’re working.”
Smart Business spoke with Cramer about the evolution of document management systems in the legal and professional services spaces, and how training is adapting to ensure users get the full experience any place and on any device.
How is the vendor landscape affecting document management products?
The document management systems space serving legal and professional services firms has, over the past couple years, narrowed to two major players. Both are working in a good competitive nature, meaning both vendors are advancing their solutions while building their portfolio stack to make a complete solution. This has been extremely advantageous to end users, leading to evolutions of the products via updates, enhancements and new components while pricing remains flat.
Customers need to install the latest versions to get the full value of these solutions. And when firms update their solutions, training is recommended because the same interface is consistent across any computing device, be it a Windows-based desktop computer, a tablet or even a smartphone. That could mean using in-house trainers to acclimate user adoption practices, or firms could reach outside their organization to a consultant for training.
How important is it to update the software?
Two key components of one vendor’s solution is going to end-of-support next year. That’s driving customers to perform an upgrade to the current version, which means customers will need someone to lead this upgrade event, especially one that can provide ongoing support services.
When the software reaches the end-of-support stage, customers will not be able to have those issues resolved because the software is no longer supported at the vendor level. In some cases, that could lead to frustratingly sub-optimal performance, which could lead to trouble retaining talent.
How does the most current solution affect legal and professional service firms?
Because users want to work from anywhere, they need tools that enable them to have the same performance whether they’re working at home or at the office. Document management services providers know this and have created high-performing applications that work on any type of computing device from wherever people want to work. That’s led to a shift in the focus from a training perspective. Now, more than training to the new features after a firm performs an upgrade, it’s stepping back and trying to understand the outcome that users expect in the workflow. That’s not just based on one application but rather all their applications, so training should be tailored to the overall workflow of those business users. It’s no longer just training on one specific application, but training to the users’ full experience.
In a market in which employees have a great deal of leverage, a firm that’s behind its software technology could lead some of the younger talent to choose firms and corporate legal departments that are willing to make the investment in technology that would enable them to be more efficient that their jobs. Performing an upgrade and getting on the latest version of the platform is something that could be a difference maker. ●
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