In law firms, Quality Control (QC) occurs as part of various processes: Conflicts Checking, Proof Reading, and Citation Checking are just a few examples. But rarely do we apply QC measures to a law firm process like document scanning.
The Remote Workforce is Transforming the Back Office
With the advent of the pandemic, law firms have been adapting the back-office to better support remote working. Finance, HR, Marketing and most other back-office functions including the Mailroom, now work with remote teams and serve internal customers who are also working remotely.
It is now typical that incoming mail is routinely digitized to facilitate distribution to the remote workforce. The digitized mail can easily be delivered to the firm’s document management system and to attorneys and staff working remotely. In this new digital process, it is essential to apply QC measures.
- Quality Control Assures High Quality of Scanned Documents
Scanning equipment has become much more reliable over the years. Common problems like double-feeds are less common, but they do occur, along with skewed pages, and errors introduced by humans like mis-ordered pages. As part of the Mailroom process, checking the quality of each scanned document will eliminate poor quality documents making their way through the process.
- Quality Control Assures Accuracy of Metadata related to Scanned Documents
In a digital mailroom process, documents are cataloged as to recipient or other relevant information. Part of the QC process is to review this metadata to assure its accuracy.
- Quality Control Engenders Confidence in the Digitization Process
A key benefit of the digital mailroom is to shred the paper after the QC step. Shredding only happens when recipients have confidence in the image (scan) quality and accuracy of the metadata. But if this confidence is gained, then firms can dispense with delivering or retaining the paper version of the incoming mail.
Implementing Quality Control
Let’s look at the digital mailroom and implementing quality control. There are 5 steps in a quality control regime.
- Apply a Unique Identifier to Each Document
To effectively manage the QC process, each document should be identified with a unique identifier. This “fingerprint” will assure that each document can be tracked from initial processing through disposition in the document management system and will provide a full-proof way to link the electronic and physical versions of a document.
- Create a Written Document That Defines Quality
Quality is determined by how it is defined and measured. A quality document is a single source which guides the quality control process. It takes the guesswork out of the quality control objectives in your firm.
Employees work best when they have specific step-by-step procedures to follow. In the example of the digital mailroom, you should define which documents are checked and how they are checked. This will define whether all documents are checked or just a subset as well as whether to include steps like ‘survey thumbnails’, ‘compare first and last page’, ‘compare page counts’, or ‘compare every page’.
Once procedures are established, they should be documented in step-by-step instructions sufficient to guide even the new members of the quality control team.
A very valuable component of a QC process is the opportunity to collect data, which can then be used to refine the imaging process. Are there higher error rates with certain scanning equipment? Are there common issues like pages out of order (a document-prep issue perhaps)? Is double-sided vs single-sided scanning creating errors? Is color captured appropriately? Data can be your guide to a more efficient process.
This article will guide you in implementing a quality control process in your digital mailroom.