This is Legal Practice Intelligence’s third attempt to list the key functions of a document management system. We don’t do this exercise very often. The first attempt was almost five years ago. The second was about two years ago and here we are now with v3.

Five years ago it was these four key functions:

  1. Find stuff
  2. Save stuff
  3. Secure stuff and 
  4. Version control

A prescient comment received in response to this list was: what about collaboration? Is a key function of a document management system the ability to collaborate on documents and other files? 

Five years ago people were debating whether the cloud would be the next big thing. It was and it made collaboration a lot easier.

Has collaboration become the fifth key function of a document management system? At Legal Practice Intelligence, we don’t think so.

The four key features listed above are much narrower in scope than collaboration. Collaboration is huge. It is comprised of many aspects. Two key aspects are sharing documents, usually via links, and online chats about documents, also known as commenting. 

But collaboration is not the end of the story. With the cloud journey over the past few years there has been a persistent demand for the ability to sync documents to a local device – such as a laptop. There are many benefits of local sync such as being able to edit documents with the full versions of Microsoft Office products. It also enables access to currently active documents when there is no internet.

Syncing locally is a type of checking-in and checking-out feature. When someone is working on a version, you’ll want to know about it so you don’t end up in a versioning mess. 

Taking into account the above, here is our v3 attempt at listing the key functions of a document management system:

  1. Find stuff
  2. Save stuff
  3. Secure stuff 
  4. Version control
  5. Sharing stuff
  6. Commenting
  7. Checking in and out and
  8. Local sync

There is no doubt that the next version of this list will be even longer. 

A trailblazer in online document management for law firms, NetDocuments recently acquired one of its integration partner companies, ThreadKM. The video below is a good illustration of the v3 world of document management systems. 

ThreadKM: NetDocuments Integration from ThreadKM on Vimeo.

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