Interestingly enough, not that many Time Matters firms I work with work toward document assembly or automation of their documents.
There are 3 options for document assembly with Time Matters:
- Formattable Clipboards
- Document Merges
Formattable clipboards were created in Time Matters to allow greater access to the database. We can access almost all of the related records and use more than one record in a document. So you can merge documents with information from 1 or 10 or100 matters or clients. You can also dig further into the data and access the events, todos, UDR (people records) from each matter. The downside is that the formatting options are limited – no full justify or tables are a few examples. There is also a size limitation to the produced documents.
Document Merges use the merge capabilities in your word processor. There is a limited amount of data that you can access in Time Matters but you use the formatting options in your word processor.
HotDocs is a document automation tool with an expansive set of features and tools. There is a HotDocs integration with Time Matters, but we find it too limiting and we have built a direct Time Matters database connection. The downside to HotDocs is it takes some time to prepare the database connection (although we have it built already) and it takes some time to built the initial interview. HotDocs can also assemble PDF forms.
What is a firm to do?
My advice is to look at the document assembly needs of your firm as a project. You need to understand:
- What you want to automate
- Why you want to automate
- How many documents there are
- Who is going to approve the content of the documents? If you have a motion, can the staff agree on the wording? If you have a standard contract, can you agree on the terms? Have these been reviewed lately?
- The time it takes staff to produce these documents
- The potential time saving
- The time to automate
- Are there pdf documents or forms
In general, if you are looking for short quick documents, many times you can get the correct language from a clipboard and then have users verify formatting once the data has been pasted into Word.
If you are looking to seriously automate documents that you use regularily and constantly and they are pleadings and/or agreements/contracts you should take a look at HotDocs. There is a cost that goes along with HotDocs but in the long run, the tool will work better for you and the firm. You will not run into limitations in creating documents (like the size limit in a formattable clipboard or the data that can be access in a Word Merge). I would also invest in 2 things:
- Someone to help you get going with the documents – have them set up the framework and the interviews
- Train some staff to modify and add documents in the future
Along side this advice is the acknowledgement that for some firms their document assembly and automated documents are key to their business. Down time is not acceptable. This is mission critical.
When I trained Time Matters technical support, document merges were one of the highest call drivers. So users were having trouble. Along with that almost each of the last releases of Time Matters have had document merge issues. In some instances, firm’s documents were not able to assemble. There are some issues with Time Matters 10 as it initially shipped.
So for me, when document assembly is mission critical, I would handle it as its own project. Focus the appropriate resouces to the documents and create a strategy to handle your needs today and into the future. Look for something to get you started. We have solutions in:
- Ontario Statutory Accident Benefits
- Ontario Small Claims Court
- Ontario Real Estate
We have products in developement for:
- Personal Injury and Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Ontario Civil Court Forms
- Wills and Estates
- Business Transactions and Corporations
With each of packages in SpeedMatters, you can add forms and documents as you desire. We believe we have all of the key documents, but you can add as you see necessary.