A Horror Story

I walked into my friend’s office and sat down in the corner chair to wait while she finished up a few things before we left to go to lunch. Her intern and assistant both had harried looks on their faces and their hair looked like fingers had run through it a thousand times. On the floor were piles of folders with paper sticking out. Standing next to the mess, my friend was on the phone and had a frantic tone to her voice that was usually reserved for extremely frustrating moments. You know the kind where you are not sure what to do next and are obviously distracted by the thought of recovery.

As I looked out her window to the main floor I could see people standing, facing the office as if waiting for the next order before taking action. Some individuals were in the “prairie dog” mode of popping up every now and then when they heard the sound of a door opening only to find it wasn’t whom they expected.

I started to rise from my seat and signal that I would call her later, only to be waved to sit back down. The situation looked serious to me and I thought I should leave her to finish dealing with the crisis without the pressure of me waiting.

She hung up the phone and plopped down into her chair and swung in my direction. The exasperated look on her face, gave me pause. Out of her mouth came the plea, “Please help……” trailing off at the end to a whisper. Next came the explanation of what had happened and how everyone in her office had been diverted to the task of finding the missing document for a custody case her boss was about to represent that afternoon.

A lone missing document is something that can usually be handled quickly and while finally located, the problem became bigger as the morning wore on. When she started to go through the client files to find the one signed agreement needed, she discovered that most of the new files were not in the expected order – on the right side of the folder should be the temporary files or work in process and on the left should be the final files. With the expansion of the practice, the addition of new attorneys and their teams brought in different methods of organization and the varying degrees of difference took pulling everyone together to accomplish the search. The situation could have had a devastating impact on a client. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, with no idea of where to begin.

We had talked about using SharePoint as a document management tool before and at the time she didn’t see the need. Now in the middle of the chaos she really saw a benefit. The files could live electronically in the repository and the Meta tags would allow her to search for all files related to a client regardless of where they were “filed”. The search function would find any document with the client name and/or case number.

She scanned across the room, took in the piles of folders with papers sticking out and then looked out the window to see all the people who pitched in to support the effort. With a sigh, she looked at me and asked,” Could you help prevent this from happening again? Just look at the collective time it took to resolve this. We did find it but I do not want to go through this again! Too close….. Too stressful…”

“Yes”, I said. “We can get this organized and everyone in the office will benefit.”

About Your Columnist

Linda Amaro

Linda Amaro is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers topics, tips and tricks surrounding The Virtual Office and using Microsoft SharePoint to improve collaboration. Linda Amaro, has been in the Information Technology (IT) industry for over 30 years and has risen to the position of CIO in the corporate arena managing multiple departments with over 150 staff members and projects for tier one customers ranging from $2.5 million to $20 million. In 2010, she started Klarinet Solutions, a SharePoint consulting firm that provides SharePoint Design, Site Branding, Workflow Automation, On-Line Forms Development, Document Management, Custom Development and Business Intelligence.

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