Thursday, March 26, 2015

5 Reasons Why Going Paperless Will Give Your Firm a Competitive Edge

A geographically dispersed client base, increasing demand of rapid response interaction and enhancement of USPTO digital communication are forcing IP firms to deviate from their traditional paper-based, manual processes. However, many firms feel apprehensive about going completely paperless, or they are not aware of how to take their practice paperless.

Firms that understand the benefits of going paperless (and know how to accomplish it) will find themselves ahead of their competition, and with it see decrease in costs, increases in time efficiency, and generally more organized employees and satisfied clients. Below are five reasons why going paperless will give your firm a competitive edge.

"Going paperless puts firms ahead of the competition."

1. Client interaction
Paper-based documents have produced inefficiencies that have wrought the patent industry for years. Paper processes are often accompanied by more frequent errors and greater costs to firms. 

Many IP firms' client bases have dealt with such struggles. With increasing computer-savvy clients and attorneys, it is vital for successful IP firms to ditch this old adage and focus on swift interaction with clients. This can be accomplished by going paperless.  

Paperless document management allows IP firms to manage patents and related documents in one area, and help associates quickly access and provide needed documents immediately. Moreover, paperless management provides greater visibility and control over workflow. Closer control allows the firm to foresee inefficiencies that may hinder client interaction and streamline communication.

2. Recordkeeping 
The docketing process generates a great deal of paperwork that most patent and IP firms retain for a variety of legal reasons. A firm that goes paperless and integrates documents into a single, secure system will not only be able to better manage these documents, but also ensure they are filing in a timely manner with the USPTO and meeting other filing requirements, such as those listed under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Going paperless can also help IP firms prepare for an unexpected audit by establishing internal guidelines to ensure compliance. Firms that understand how to utilize their system to its maximum potential can expedite these unwanted visits and organize their records for a future retrieval.

"80% of law firms print all or most of their documents."

3. Security and backup
According to a recent Fuji Xerox study, 80 percent of law firms still print all or most of the documents they need, while 79 percent still use hard copies when enhancing documents at other firms. While some firms believe paper copies will help in case they are needed in the future, it's the firms that recognize these documents don't need to be hardcopy that will see a competitive edge. Going paperless affords firms the advantage of document backup in the case of undesirable incidents that may destroy needed information.

Paperless document management also allows IP firms to add levels of security to documents containing intellectual property. Users can dictate who can access or manipulate documents by setting specific roles for their employees. Moreover, a tracking history can show who has accessed documents or who made previous revisions, and when.

4. Collaboration among employees
In the IP field where documents and forms are constantly changing hands and are often worked on or referenced by numerous employees, IP firms that consolidate their documents into a manageable system will see increased benefits. Attorneys and staff are more productive when information is in a central location with a consistent numbering or naming scheme. This also allows attorneys to collaborate on projects, and find and distribute important documents instantly.  

Going paperless can have a profound impact on your firm's overall spend.

5. Reduced operating costs
Typically, office space is second only to salaries in terms of total cost for a business. Many of these costs come with the storage space of paper and other office supplies. These costs are increased as employees are paid to find documents through stacks of paper, or in some cases warehouses full of paper. Going paperless will reduce these often-overlooked expenses and add to the efficiency of employees and the firm overall. For IP firms, this also means reducing the risk of missed filing deadlines and easier communication with USPTO.

Going paperless offers many economical and professional advantages that numerous firms are either not aware of, or have apprehension about taking their firm paperless. However, IP firms that choose to embark down this path will see more efficient employees, satisfied clients, and overall peace of mind by having documents securely stored, tracked, and easily accessible.

Click here to learn how Anaqua's IP Practice Management System will enable your attorneys to go paperless.