Free or Full Featured - Rightsizing Your PDF Content Solution

Whether its free of full featured, how do you decide what PDF Content solution will best meet the needs of your firm?  This is a bottom-line issue (meaning money) since you don’t want to spend too much on features your firm doesn’t need – or spend too much filling “gaps” if you don’t have certain features you need in your core solution. Perhaps this framework will help.

A – Litigation Support vs. Office Automation

 Start by dividing your assessment into two general areas – PDF content for litigation support and PDF content for everyone else – the office automation “universe”. The Litigation Support folks tend to need automation tools since their documents come in big batches of a similar type – on the office automation side of things, users work on relatively small batches of documents so a feature like document management integration may be vital to them.

B – Work and Flow

When thinking about PDF content in the office automation context, do you know have a good understanding of what users do with PDF content? A survey of help desk personnel and users (indeed power users but also average users) is a key step in understanding requirements for PDF content creation, editing, and management in your firm.

Examples – from a long list - of things to know:

- why is paper scanned? (printing out MS Word to sign it for example..)
- how is paper scanned and captured,
- who emails PDF attachments,
- do they need to apply security to those attachments,
- do users need to combine files? If so – how is it done?
- do users need to split files?
- are users retyping PDF files for editing? (they need an OCR solution)..
- do users need to redact?
- do users need to Bates?
- do users create closing binders / deal binders / transaction binders ?
- are PDF files saved into your document repository? If so – how?
- are PDF files saved to My-Documents? If so – why?
- what is a typical workflow when the result is emailing as an attachment,

Certain requirements will probably vary from one practice area to another – but you will find a wide range of functions that almost everyone in your firm needs to use.

C - Legal Desktop Integration

 This is a fairly big topic by itself so there’s the condensed version: Where do users spend 85% of their time? In Word and Outlook. What is your system of record? It’s your document repository or records management system. Its vital that your PDF content solution integrate well in these applications so users save time whenever they are creating – emailing – or saving PDF content.

In my next post I'll drill into the areas of Convert to PDF, filling out forms, creating PDF binders, and advanced editing tools and what to look for.   Meanwhile - be sure to inquire if you need assistance with creating or executing a survey of your PDF content requirements.