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ECM evolves to support business goals

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Supporting the knowledge worker

While some ECM products take a broad, horizontal approach to serving customers, iManage focuses on knowledge workers in highly regulated fields such as legal and financial services. The iManage platform creates a single source of truth for documents and communications, including emails and chat messages, and in a secure repository. It stores them in context—organized by deal, project, matter—around the way knowledge workers need it. “We look at the process not so much as document management,” said Shawn Misquitta, iManage’s EVP of product management, “[but] as the lifecycle for engagement on an activity from inception to disposition.” For example, when a customer onboards a project into iManage, the system checks for conflicts of interest at the beginning of the process. iManage tracks engagements until they are sunsetted or designated for reuse.

iManage focuses on emails to a greater extent than many other ECMs, a strong benefit given the importance of this document format in legal and financial services. Also, the scale and speed of governance are important factors in these businesses. iManage is designed to manage documents at scale and to make changes easily. “If a partner or an accountant leaves the company, how quickly can the system be updated?” is a question Misquitta thinks companies should consider. “With some ECMs, it can take a week or more, whereas our time frame is much shorter, just a few days.” Encryption provides another level of security for the organization; everything saved in iManage is encrypted.

Because so many knowledge workers use Microsoft’s Office 365, iManage is integrated with this suite, and content is imported into iManage, either manually or automatically. Content is searchable via document, workspace, and matter number, with additional search functions available through advanced search. “We purchased and integrated a search engine that operates against content in the system and classifies content automatically using AI and machine learning. Search is a function that has been around a long time, but it keeps evolving,” said Misquitta, “partly because content types keep evolving. Also, our users want to be able to search very precisely: What deals have been done in a certain country, who is the expert in a specialized field. We want to bring content close to where the person is working, to help them do their job.”

iManage claims to have captured nearly 80% of the Global Law 100 firms, and about 60% of its customers are small to medium-sized companies. Although it scales to the needs of large firms, iManage can be a cost-effective solution for small companies as well. Wyatt Early Harris Wheeler LLP is a law firm of about 20 people based in North Carolina. Its practice includes business law, general litigation, estate planning and administration, and real estate law. Wanting to move to a cloud-first approach, the company was also seeking greater efficiency, security, and flexibility. The firm migrated the back end to iManage Cloud while users continued with their current interface, then transitioned to iManage. Now the workers can access iManage from any location and have a much faster and more precise search function. In the future, the firm plans to use iManage to simplify collaboration with partners.

A Gallup poll from 2022 reported that 5 out of 10 U.S. employees are now working in hybrid environments; 3 out of 10 are remote; and only 2 in 10 are working entirely in the office. With many employees having experienced remote working as a result of the pandemic, the benefits accrued from less commuting time and greater flexibility have proved attractive. The evolving capabilities of cloud-enabled collaborative ECM and the option of choosing from a variety of ECM models will facilitate this transition.

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