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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How a Litigation Support Manager turns Accellion SFTA into a Competitive Advantage that Makes Clients Happy and Attorneys Glad

Summary: While an Accellion survey has shown that 70% of end users still routinely use CD/DVD as their "file transfer" method, the Litigation Support Manager of a major law firm breaks the routine and makes both the clients and internal users happier.


Accellion commissioned a consultancy to conduct a survey. Being the secure file transfer solution provider that we are, I wanted to learn more about what methods companies use to send files to business associates.

Not surprisingly, sending files as email attachments was the most dominant method (74% of all responses). A bit surprising to me, though, is how many companies still burn CDs/DVDs and ship them via courier services - some 70% of the companies in the study said they still employ this method.

(A statistical side note: many of the respondents use multiple methods for file transfer. So, these percentages do not add up to 100%.)

The continuing prevalence of CD/DVD as a data transfer method is not exactly surprising. What these users are saying implicitly is that email is simply unsuitable for sending large files or folders, i.e. to maintain file hierarchy. So end users will turn to the second easiest method. In other words, that means burning files onto a CD/DVD and then shipping it overnight.

Why CD/DVD? Well, it is because a business user can burn a disc without the hassle of getting the IT department involved. Similarly, the recipient does not need to call in IT support to retrieve the files. So what if the process is time consuming and the shipping is costly? That’s just a cost of doing business, right?


I was talking with the Litigation Support Manager at a large law firm who has been using the Accellion SFTA solution. Her team is responsible for converting pertinent documents to PDF format and distributing them to all relevant parties such as clients, outside counsel, and consultants.

Prior to installing the SFTA solution, the Litigation Support team would process the information into PDF format, burn them onto a CD, and then use an overnight shipping service to distribute them. This shipping costs were simply passed on to clients as part of the legal overhead.
The department manager told me the team tried to use email attachments to send the documents, but this wasn’t practical because recipients' email servers routinely reject large attachments. What’s more, there is no simple mechanism to ascertain delivery of the document to the right person without exhaustive phone calls.

After installing Accellion SFTA, the Litigation Support team starts to send files via links to the document(s) in email. The recipient clicks on the URL link and downloads the document. The sender also gets a file download confirmation so that there is no additional tracking required. The whole process now takes minutes between the sender and recipients instead of the usual days, and there are no more of those multiple triage points.

Similarly, non-technical end users, i.e. attorneys, can send files or folders of any size from their own PCs on an ad hoc basis without begging IT for help. (And according to my anonymous high level IT source in another major law firm, IT is equally happy to not have to deal with attorneys who wanted to get the files over "yesterday already".)

So, with Accellion SFTA solution, the company is able to make both users and clients happy by reducing the process time from days to minutes. Furthermore, by eliminating the costs of delivery services as well as the overhead required to handle the physical delivery, the law firm is able to be more responsive while lowering its costs of business for itself and its clients.

The equation is simple:

1. Accellion SFTA = (reduced time, reduced costs)
2. Reduced time = better service to users and clients
3. Reduced costs = lower fees passed on to clients
4. A better (law) firm that makes users and clients happy = Better service + lower fees

Accellion SFTA = Better business results

Or, as my logic lecturer would have said, "this is intuitively obvious."


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