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Using Automating Software vs. Doing It Yourself

By August 24, 2011 5 Comments

One of our Tech Tips readers recently wrote in asking our opinion on purchasing document management software for her law firm. She wanted the ability to enter client information in a spreadsheet and create forms that would be automatically populated with the clients’ information. Through her research, she found she could do these things with programs in Microsoft Office.  She wanted to know if she should purchase a piece of software for $900*, or try to build her own system with Microsoft Word and Excel.

(*The size of the organization greatly influences the options available.  Document management solutions can easily cost thousands depending on the number of users and features involved).

I consulted Neil Jones, one of our network engineers who has worked with several law firms.  Here’s what he had to say:

"Yes, technically you can do what you need to with Microsoft Word and Excel, using templates in Word  and merge fields in Excel.  This is somewhat complex, and you might spend a lot of time training yourself or getting outside training, depending on how familiar you are with the programs.

Instead, you can purchase a canned solution which will do what you need automatically."

$900 might sound expensive, but think about it like this:

Let’s say it takes two full days of training to learn how to create templates and merge fields in Microsoft Office.  That's 16 hours of an employee's productivity (that could be focused on generating revenue) completely focused on training.  Is that worth more or less than $900?  When you factor in the costs of training and/or travel expenses, the software might actually be a cheaper option.  Not to mention, what used to take five or six hours to complete might only take one or two with automating software.

If you’re considering a major software purchase, we’d be glad to help you weigh your options.  Also keep in mind that most solutions have a “Free Trial” option; you can get a feel for the software without a financial investment.  If you decide that it won’t do what you need it to do, discontinue the trial and you won't waste a penny. If you don’t see a free trial option for the software you’re looking into, contact their support team and ask if they can give you one.  If not, ask if you can at least get a free demonstration.

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