A few days ago, I received an email from one of our NetDocuments clients. He wanted to know: Did we know of any applications that could upload and share large files with others? My reply was this: You have NetDocuments! This led to a “teachable moment” and it is one we want to share with you this week.
The question our client asked goes to the core of a concept we all desire, particularly as most of us are working outside of our offices: collaboration. What factors go into an efficient and successful scenario that benefits co-workers, particularly those who work with people outside of their organizations?
In order to work with others to successfully produce a product (in this case, documents), three factors need to be present:
- Secure file sharing
- A means of communicating with others involved in the project
- The ability to determine the contributions made by others – a fancy way of saying “who did what”
Secure File Sharing – We’ve seen clients use a variety of applications to share files. Some are good; some are not so good. Taking this approach means users must learn yet another application. That application may or may not work with the programs users already have. Uploading and downloading files = multiple copies. Which one is the most recent, or the one we recognize as the final one? How easy or complex will it be to merge data into a master copy?
One of the major features of NetDocuments is that, when sharing files, the file remains in the user’s NetDocuments repository. People granted access can do so within a controlled environment: View Only, View + Edit, etc. And if outside users are granted editing privileges, the edits remain in NetDocuments with the option to update a document or to be saved as a new version.
Communicating with Others Involved in the Project – Common methods of communicating with others working on a document can be via phone conference, emails, and texts. These are inefficient – phone conversations are hard to track unless detailed notes are kept. Emails may provide something of a timeline if all are carefully preserved. But they are public and subject to discovery. Let’s not even talk about texts. None of these methods are linked to the document itself and if a user goes back to the document, they cannot see evidence of the collaborative effort that went into it.
NetDocuments provides two solutions to this problem: ndThread and now ChatLink. We’ve written about these features in previous posts. ndThread provides a channel for users to comment and contribute to the drafting of a document. The thread is linked to the document. It will not show when a document is printed. It has the same security rights as that document.
Microsoft Teams has gained in popularity this year as the “go to” app for team collaboration and NetDocuments capitalized on that with their add-on called ChatLink. This enables users to continue working inside the Microsoft Teams interface with complete access to NetDocuments workspaces and conversations within ndThread. This has the advantage of capturing conversations from those Team users who do not have NetDocuments and saving them to your documents.
These features lead to the third point of identifying the contributions made by others. Using CollabSpaces to grant access to documents to those outside of an organization preserves the security of those documents, along with a log of who accessed the file, with a date and time stamp. ndThread provides a record of collaborative efforts in a logical progression. ChatLink leverages the benefits of Microsoft Teams, preserving contributions from those users. By providing access to NetDocuments directly within Teams, users can keep project and matter-related content and discussions in context of the matter without leaving Teams.
By offering these features, NetDocuments offers specific benefits to their users – one centralized place to create and manage documents and the users who contribute to those documents; centralized management – one application vs. many to support sharing and collaboration; centralized access – one place to locate a document; one search to bring up what users need to know about it; and centralized access management – one place to grant users access to documents with clearly defined access rights.
Our client was pleased to learn about the features that resided in his NetDocuments application. Do you know all of the benefits of the programs and applications you have? Our team at Crosspointe can show you haw to get the most out of what you own, particularly when you and your staff presently face unprecedented challenges in meeting your goals. Call us at 877-357-0555 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here for you.
Dana Riel is President and Founder of Business Solutions, Inc., serving the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area since 1985. Her firm is the authorized training center for the region for Time Matters and PCLaw by PCLaw|Time Matters, PLLC; Timeslips and Peachtree Accounting by Sage Software; and QuickBooks by Intuit Corporation. As a trainer, Dana has provided training services to organizations such as the DOD Defense Logistics Agency, Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAG)/Department of the Navy, University of the District of Columbia School of Law, U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as with small‐ to mid‐size law firms in the Baltimore‐Washington D.C. area. In 2009, she participated in the series of day‐long seminars sponsored by the District of Columbia Bar Association Practice Management Section, titled “Basic Training: Learn About Running a Law Office”. Ms. Riel also served as an Adjunct Professor in Georgetown University’s Paralegal Studies Program, having taught the course, “Legal Ethics/Legal Technology” in 2009; and “Legal Technology” for the Spring and Summer Semesters of 2010. She presently serves on the Advisory Board for PCLaw|Time Matters, PLLC.