The other day, I had some important things to get into our document management system (DMS). I was on the other side of town and had to route this paperwork to other team members in my firm, get some other projects started and deliver some information to my customers. So I pulled over in an Office Depot parking lot and got in the back seat of my car. I pulled out my leather man bag (it’s not a purse!) and set up my office.
I turned my hotspot on from my iPhone, flipped open my MacBook Pro 17” and plugged in my Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100. I was set! I began scanning client documents, uploading documents to our DMS, passed out some To Dos to our team members, and set out to get some work done for an hour and a half before my next appointment... right in the back seat of my car. Apart from having a coffee maker in the back seat and an electrical outlet, I had everything I needed to get my work done when, where and how I needed to get it done.
But this setup was by design. It takes some planning to make sure I am mobile in every aspect of my business. I have committed to make sure that if my man bag is with me (it’s not a purse!), then I am at the office no matter where I am. The value of my mobile office is one of the most important things to me. It may not be for you, so I may not suggest that you lug a heavy bag around with you, through airports and back and forth to client appointments. But I have to have it that way. Due to the design of my mobile office, I can work anywhere, anyhow and anyway I want. I can go to my physical office (which we will soon close), I can go to a coffee shop, I can fly across the country or I can stay home… all the while I am assured that I am never away from my office.
But you can’t just have it that way without first planning it to be that way. You can’t be mobile unless you first move to the cloud. Mobile is becoming the buzz word of late… but it assumes that you have dealt with the cloud issue first. Is your firm 100% cloud-based? You need to be if you ever want to become a mobile firm. Cloud products release mobile apps that make smart use of the cloud product. Cloud is first. Mobile comes second. That is how you must set up your firm too: go to the cloud first, then become mobile.
How can this proper planning help you to be a more effective and efficient firm? Let’s explore a few scenarios together…
What if I were in the back of my car, scanning documents and I had nowhere to put them for a few hours, or even days?
Our DMS and client portal system (SmartVault) are cloud based so I was able to not only scan important documents, but immediately place them in our DMS for our team members to access. Knowledge Take Away (KTA): speed is your friend when designing your internal business processes. The cloud, and thus mobile, gives you speed. When knowledge is created by you, your team or your clients, you need the ability to get that document to its right location as soon as possible. It allows for speed, agility and scalability of your processes. If all team members are trained on how this works, then no one slows anyone else down (are their tax files to be reviewed in the partner’s floor right now?).
What if I were in the back of my car, scanning documents, but I had no internet access, thus using my desktop as a temporary holding location?
My scanned documents would probably have sat on my desktop for some time waiting for internet access until either the client or the team members in our firm asked where they were. KTA: create the abilities within your firm to get knowledge to its end point without any layovers. Any intermediary stop-overs (like a computer desktop or the corner of your physical desk) can kill your efficiency and create information log-jams.
What if I were in the back of my car, and I wanted to pass out some To Dos to my team members but my practice management software was back on my server?