Bowman and Brooke
In the 21st century, most companies – even law firms — are only as good as their data. When Bowman and Brooke in Minneapolis found that they were dealing more and more frequently with downtime and outages that came with an outdated document management system, IT Director Ed Jorczyk and Records Management Director Chris Austin spearheaded the move to upgrade.
“Because of the struggles we’d had, we were able to engage the firm leadership and decide on a new system,” said Austin. “We built it in a way that we think suits the needs of the firm as a whole.”
To start the process, Jorczyk and Austin helped create and implement a firm-wide electronic document retention policy and set of protocols. They then led and managed the purchase and implementation of iManage, a state-of-the-art electronic document and records management system that’s tailored to the needs of law firms.
Austin oversaw the policy and protocols portion of the project while Jorczyk led IT configuration and deployment. Getting the new system in place and running came with both technical and business challenges.
“The system we were coming from wasn’t really widely adopted, so there were no predefined tools that would help us migrate to a new system,” said Jorczyk. “We worked with a third party to help us migrate several million documents in just a weekend.”
More delicate than getting 3.5 million documents moved over was gaining total – or even majority – buy-in from the attorneys and support staff that would be using the new system.
“There were a lot of negative feelings around electronic records in general,” said Austin. “At the same time, the firm partners worked hard to understand what we were trying to do and pushed that vision out to 500 people. We tried to engage the whole firm, from the newest employees to the founding partners.”
While there might have been the grousing that comes with any enterprise-wide change, the figures reflecting the system’s effectiveness don’t lie: From 1995 to 2013, Bowman and Brooke accumulated 3.4 million documents. In the year iManage was implemented, it added 2.7 million more, making a system that contains more than 6 million documents and emails.
Also, in the first year of iManage, the firm’s help desk received one-third the number of SOS calls than it got in the first full year of the previous document management system.
“Not only was this a new system with some new tools, but we were also working to break some old habits,” said Austin.
The firm took further steps to guarantee that its documents and applications would remain glitch-free under the new system. Along with iManage, Bowman and Brooke set up a new data center at a third-party facility in Minnetonka. A new server and storage infrastructure supports not only the new document management system but also applications that had previously been based in Minneapolis.
“The new facility has redundant generators and electrical systems,” said Jorczyk. “Unless a major catastrophe hits that facility, we’ll be able to operate 24/7.”