The Cost of Email Litigation

July 13th, 2008

EmailE-mail and other electronic communications have dramatically changed the contemporary legal landscape. By some estimates, more than 90 percent of the cost of a lawsuit today can come from sorting through e-mails and other electronic documents to determine which ones are relevant to the case.

You can use DocPoint to intelligently manage your email by taking advantage of DocPoint’s intimate integration with Microsoft Office Outlook.

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Ken Withers, director of judicial education at a legal think tank called The Sedona Conference, says that 20 years ago, a case that involved 300,000 pieces of paper was considered huge.

“That’s considered a drop in the bucket today,” Withers says. “The equivalent of 30 million or 300 million pieces of paper, if these were printed out, would not be unusual.”

The need to sort through those piles of documents has had a significant impact on the lives of recent law school graduates.

“Today a young person graduating from law school and joining a large firm in one of our major cities can look forward to perhaps three or four years of doing nothing but sitting in front of a computer screen reviewing e-mail and other electronic documents for litigation,” Withers says.

Although the quantity of documents is daunting, an electronic paper trail does carry an advantage. E-mails are much more searchable than paper documents. In fact, some companies now have proactive filters that can catch troublesome e-mails before anyone files a lawsuit.

For example, financial firms might look for the word “guarantee” — as in “guarantee a return,” says Cyndy Launchbaugh, who works for ARMA International, a nonprofit records management group.

Companies often can’t uphold such a statement, she says, so if the word, “guarantee” pops up in a company e-mail, the firm might check to make sure employees aren’t promising something they can’t deliver.

Sorting Through Documents

But many companies are not that organized. ARMA co-sponsored a study last year that found that one in four American companies does not have a system for organizing electronic documents. Such a system might tell companies what they should keep, what they can get rid of, and how to archive documents if they need to retrieve material in a lawsuit.

If a business without a system for organizing its electronic records gets sued, it can cost a fortune.

“It can get into the millions,” says Dave McDermott, records manager for J.R. Simplot, an agribusiness company.

Simplot does have a comprehensive records management policy, but the company only created that policy because roughly 40 years ago, federal investigators came asking for documents. At the time, McDermott says, “our records were stored in horse barns.”

McDermott suspects many companies only get on the electronic records management bandwagon after they’ve been sued once.

Today a massive company the size of Simplot may juggle 300 or 400 court cases at a time. Each case requires its own set of documents that has to be retrieved and sorted. The industry calls it “production.”

When a company that does not manage its e-mail gets sued, McDermott says, “many cases are settled, because the cost of production outweighs the cost of settling.”

In other words, when a company has to choose between spending millions of dollars on sorting e-mail and spending a few hundred thousand to settle a case, they may just pay the plaintiff to make the lawsuit go away.

After that, the company’s next step may well be to establish a comprehensive electronic document management policy. Read the rest of this entry »

An E-Mail Vacation: Taking Fridays Off

June 30th, 2008

Can you go a day at the office without e-mail? Employees at U.S. Cellular try to do that every Friday. A policy implemented a few years ago gives workers a respite from the e-mail avalanche.

You can use DocPoint to intelligently manage your email by taking advantage of DocPoint’s intimate integration with Microsoft Office Outlook.

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U.S. Cellular Vice President and COO Jay Ellison says his ban on Friday e-mails at the Chicago-based company came after he heard complaints from employees. But it wasn’t a cakewalk.

“I got a lot of push-back from a lot of people that I was nuts they’d have to operate that way, and I pushed back on them,” Ellison said. “I respect that push-back,” he told them. “But I heard the associates; we’re going to try this.”

Ellison says the company tried it for two and a half months, and everyone loved it — even those who didn’t like the idea at first.

“I think people would outright just freak out if we started e-mails back up on Friday,” Ellison said. “I know the front-line leadership would scream; I’d have a mutiny on my hands.”

Ellison says the idea is for employees to talk to one another and collaborate more. Along the way, some staffers, like executive John Coyle, have made some amazing discoveries.

Coyle says that one Friday, he was about to send an e-mail to a colleague in the finance department whom he had never met. But he called him instead.

That’s when the two realized they had similar phone numbers — meaning that not only were they in the same town, but in the same building.

“I’m like, ‘Oh, really, where?’ He said, ‘On the fourth floor,’ ” Coyle remembers. “And I said, ‘I’m on the fourth floor.’ ”

After more details were exchanged, “I literally got up, walked around the corner and there he was. I had no idea.”

U.S. Cellular employees say that e-mail does have a critical place in their work — after all, they are in the business of selling wireless communications, including e-mail.

Just don’t e-mail them about that on a Friday.

What’s So Bad About Information Overload?

June 29th, 2008

We designed DocPoint with the comprehension that your biggest personal information pain-point is also the most crucial factor to your success.

The recent Harvard Business Publishing Editors Blog dedicated an article to the much maligned and unavoidable issue that DocPoint solves with elegant simplicity — information overload.

The Case for Document Management

May 20th, 2008

Document management is increasingly seen as a “bottom-line” organizational application with clear objectives such as reducing administrative costs, improving efficiency, and enhancing profits. Everyone has experienced the frustration of not being able to find that file or piece of paper with the answer to an important looming question.

“IDC has estimated that the typical enterprise with 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $2.5 million to $3.5 million per year searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, or recreating information that can’t be found.” (Source: IDC)

BAE Systems conducted a study that discovered that 80% of employees waste an average of half an hour per day retrieving information, while 60% spend an hour or more duplicating the work of others. (Source: “Show me the Money, Measuring the Return on KM” Knowledge Management)

More statistics supporting the need for document management come from Coopers & Lybrand (Source: Imersion Technologies. Inc.):

  1. 90% of corporate memory exists on paper.
  2. 90% of all paper documents in the average office are merely shuffled and moved from place to place.
  3. The average document is copied 19 times.
  4. Companies spend $20 in labor to file a document, $120 in labor to find a misfiled document, and $220 in labor to reproduce a lost document.
  5. 7.5% of all documents get lost while 3% of the remainder are misfiled.
  6. Professionals up to 50% of their time looking for information, while they spend only 5-15% of their time reading the information they retrieved.
  7. There are over 4 trillion paper documents in the U.S. alone, and that figure is growing at a rate of 22% per year.

These statistics easily support the fact that most businesses will benefit from a well-deployed document management system. It is not an issue of “if” but “when”. From Accounting and Human Resources to Product Development and Customer Service, every department can realize productivity improvements. The sooner a document management solution is in place, the sooner the benefits begin to affect business bottom-line and become the basis for efficiently conducting every business function.

DocPoint and Cannon DR9080C

May 9th, 2008

Our document and imaging products — DocPoint and ScanPoint — are remarkable tools that allow you to go paperless and increase efficiency. DocPoint and ScanPoint work with virtually every scanner on the market.

We recently reviewed the Cannon Document Scanner DR-9080C.

The DR-9080C has a unique feeding system and advanced sensor technology help ensure that batches of mixed paper sizes or other challenging scan operations are handled with minimal operator intervention at maximum scanning speed –- just what a high-volume production scanner is expected to do.

Pre-sorting, job-preparation, and the need to rescan become a thing of the past with the DR-9080C/7580 scanners. You can simply load the 500-sheet Automatic Document Feeder with a batch of mixed document types and hit “Start.”

The Cannon Document Scanner DR-9080C is fully compatible with the DocPoint and ScanPoint document management and imaging product lines.

Bar Code Hopping in San Francisco

April 13th, 2008

ScanPoint gives you the power to file documents quickly by capturing index criteria from bar codes embedded in a scanned document. Since we love bar codes so much, we were glad to see one attached to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.

Bar Code Hopping in San Francisco

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Little by little, the City by the Bay is becoming scannable. Soon San Francisco restaurants, museums and public monuments will be adorned with little bar codes like those you find on the bottom of a cereal box.

Ultimately the idea is to make the city more navigable: A customer walks up to a restaurant that displays the bar code, takes a picture of it with a cell phone and then instantly downloads reviews, a menu and a wine list. Likewise, scanning bar codes on a bus stop could produce maps, and scanning a building could elicit fun facts.

25 Word Demos

March 26th, 2008

DocPoint and Microsoft Word go hand in hand.

To make your document management and word processing life easier, we compiled the best Word 2007 webcasts for you:

Paper, Filing, and Time Management

March 14th, 2008

I’ve gathered a few interesting statistics below about the time required to manage paper, filing, and other office tasks. Using DocPoint and ScanPoint eliminates these time consuming document management chores to a minimum and frees you to focus on what is really important to your business.

Statistics on Paper and Filing

  1. The average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year retrieving misplaced information from desks or files. At a yearly salary of $75,000, this can translate to 12.3 percent of total earnings.
  2. 90% of all documents handled each day are merely shuffled.
  3. It costs $120 in labor to track down a misplaced document or $250 to recreate it.
  4. Over 800 million pages are created from computer printouts per day, enough to fill a file drawer 225 miles long.
  5. Despite visions of a paperless office, 80-90% of all information in the average office is still maintained on paper.
  6. 80% of filed papers are never referenced again. 50% of all filed materials are duplicates or expired information.
  7. Experience continues to show that 30%-40% of all recorded information can be immediately deleted from electronic systems or paper systems.
  8. In every survey taken over the last 20 years, managing paperwork falls in the top ten time-wasting activities.
  9. Just introducing email into an office increases paper printing by 40%.
  10. Workgroups lose 15% of all documents they handle and spend 30% of their time trying to find lost documents. 7.5% of all documents are lost and never retrieved.

Statistics on Time Management

  1. During the last 25 years, our leisure time has declined by 37% while our work week has increased by a full day.
  2. Spending 10 to 15 minutes every morning mapping out your day can save up to 6 hours a week.
  3. Americans as a whole waste more than nine million hours each day looking for lost and misplaced articles, amounting to a national loss of nearly $150 million per day.
  4. An average interruption during the work day consumes ten to twenty minutes in getting back on track, not counting the actual time with the interrupter.
  5. The typical businessperson experiences 170 interactions per day and has a backlog of 200-300 hours of uncompleted work.
  6. 80% of our interruptions usually come from 20% of the people with whom we work.
  7. Americans spend 1.3 billion hours a year preparing tax information.

What can you do?

Learn more: See our video tutorials and learn how to efficiently handle emails, files, paper documents, and barcodes.

Take control: Download a free trial of our document management software and cut down on wasteful time spent managing email and documents.

DocPoint and HIPAA Compliance

September 15th, 2007

Medical practitioners and healthcare entities such as doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, HMOs, and pharmacies can utilize document management software such as DocPoint to achieve compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

HIPAA is a federal guideline that aims to ensure that patient information and records are protected and maintain their integrity. HIPAA establishes access restrictions on patient information and records, and directs organizations to store and manage sensitive medical information using appropriate, structured, and safe measures.

HIPAA consists of three elements:

  • Transactions element: designed to get users to submit claims electronically — this does not apply to a document management application such as DocPoint.
  • Privacy element: designed to protect patients’ medical details.
  • Security element: designed to allow authorized access to patient information and records.

Is HIPAA Relevant to My Organization?
HIPPA is relevant to your organization if you are a healthcare provider, clearinghouse, or payer. A healthcare provider may be a hospital, clinic, nursing home, private practice, dentist, or a supplier to a healthcare provider. A clearinghouse may be a provider of billing service, a re-pricing company, or any other value-added network. More to the point, you need to address HIPAA if you are a US-based healthcare organization.

Implementing HIPAA
To be HIPAA compliant your organization needs to satisfy the intent of the law. You must have the mechanism in place that guarantees safe electronic storage, access, and transmission of patient records.

Organizations, rather than software, need to comply with HIPAA. However, you can use DocPoint to aid your organization’s efforts to become HIPAA compliant.

Document management systems such as DocPoint address the largest element of HIPAA — the management and security aspects of patient records. You should keep in mind that the overall aspects of HIPAA will require dealing with issues that are beyond the scope of any document management system.

Learn more about DocPoint‘s document management features and how they support compliance.

It’s Time to Stand Up to Your Email

August 26th, 2007

Here’s a Wall Street Journal article from today, that talks about how to go about keeping sane with email. Before you read on, it’s fair to remind you that one way you can manage your email is by using DocPoint‘s Outlook integration. Take a look at this demo to see what I’m talking about.


WSJ LogoThanks to the avalanche of messages they receive every day, many professionals and office workers say they suffer from email overload. It doesn’t have to be that way. People feel “they are complete slaves to email,” says Julie Morgenstern, founder of Julie Morgenstern Enterprises, a New York-based time-management consulting firm. “They can’t control their knee-jerk response to check and it absolutely impairs their productivity,” she says. One reason we let email rule our time: It’s often the easiest task. “People’s workloads are so intimidating now….You use email as an escape,” Ms. Morgenstern says. “It gives you a false sense of accomplishment.” There are ways to handle the overload.

Take Action

Many people check email but don’t take the time to decide what to do with it, says David Allen, chairman of David Allen Co., an Ojai, Calif.-based productivity consulting firm.

“Most people’s in-boxes are these numbing events,” Mr. Allen says. “They have all these different kinds of things that mean different things in the same place.”

One of Mr. Allen’s tips: the two-minute rule. “Anything you can finish in two minutes you should do right then.”

For emails that need more time, one option is to file those messages in folders — including “action” items, “waiting” items that can be deleted once a temporary issue is complete, and “reference” items.

“If your actionable things are set up separate from your reference items, that’s going to clean up your head and life a ton. If you have different meanings inside of one pile, you go numb because your brain can’t sort it,” Mr. Allen says.

Still, a better strategy is to push emails out of your in-box and onto a tasks list, says Mr. Allen, referring to some email programs’ “tasks to do” option. Or, simply write the task down on your own list.

Merlin Mann, San Francisco-based editor of 43Folders.com, a site focusing on personal productivity, says the key is to “get really good at deciding what the email means to you the second you open it.” He says “checking email and not doing anything about it is the worst habit.”

You Decide When

Another strategy to take control of your in-box: Turn off “you have mail” alerts that interrupt you as you work. Instead, decide on a regular schedule to check your in-box, whether it’s once every 30 minutes or three times a day.

“That creates a much more peaceful and productive work environment,” says Mike Song, a Guilford, Conn., productivity consultant, and operator of HamsterRevolution.com.

“Turn off all notifications, and then when you do go to email, go through every piece of email and figure out what it means to you,” Mr. Mann says.

If you allow your in-box to dictate your workday, responding to messages immediately, it means “you are not in charge of your own career, your own job,” Ms. Morgenstern says. “Everyone else is controlling you.” Instead, “give yourself 30 minutes every couple of hours to go through email — open, make the darned decision, delete or file it, and move on.”

Another idea, if your job allows it: Ignore your in-box for the first hour every morning, instead focusing on an important project. “Once you open the email there are a million and one interruptions,” Ms. Morgenstern adds. “It’s very hard to settle your mind down and concentrate.”

Ignoring email for the first hour is not easy. “The first day [clients] try this they actually don’t get anything done. They’re so distracted with worry about ‘what’s in my in-box?’ ” Ms. Morgenstern says.

“By the third day they’re able to focus and the productivity spike is so dramatic….They don’t have this big, undone critical task weighing over their heads. It’s behind them. That fuels their energy and they get more done the rest of the day.”

Reduce Email

Another way to avoid email overload: Receive fewer emails. Unsubscribe from mail you don’t need, and reduce the number of messages you send. “Because of the boomerang effect of email, if you become more judicious, you eventually get less and less email,” Mr. Song says.

This includes clicking “reply all” less often. “Over 80% of all professionals feel their colleagues overuse ‘reply to all,’ ” Mr. Song says, based on research he’s done at client companies.

Also, make messages and subject lines concise. That helps the recipient decide how to act on the message and to find it quickly later. “A poor quality or low quality message takes longer to read, longer to comprehend,” Mr. Song adds.

Use Available Tools

Email tools can automatically filter low-priority email to folders you check less frequently, say, once a week. In some programs, that’s as easy as right-clicking on a message.

Also, “a lot of people don’t know that you can drag a message from the in-box over to the calendar,” says Peggy Duncan, an Atlanta productivity expert and operator of PeggyDuncan.com.

And, use templates or, in Microsoft Outlook, the “signature” function, to easily insert often-typed messages. “I have all kinds of signatures saved,” Ms. Duncan says. “I have signatures on how to start a business, signatures with directions to my office.”