How Technology Can Save You In Litigation (Part Two of Two...)

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by Scott M. Lewis
- Avoid tax or licensing issues by double-checking everything. Let’s face it. We are in business for the money; we want to be our own boss; and we want to reap the financial rewards for the work our teams perform. Having excellent bookkeeping skills and tracking your business financials are keys to your business success. Improperly paying taxes (e.g., sales tax, property tax, payroll tax, or estimated income tax) can quickly get you into legal trouble with the IRS. Additionally, make sure you are correctly licensing your business with state and local authorities. Another licensing process that is commonly overlooked and costly involves software licensing. Many licensing agreements also include a claim to profits made by illegal use of software, so this is one in which the cost of the software is not worth the penalty.

- Purchase Errors and Omissions insurance. We all make mistakes. Some are harmless, while others create harm and result in damages. Often Errors and Omissions insurance will protect you and your business when errors are made by you or your team that result in losses to your customers. Business Manager 365 can reduce the effects of human factors, thereby limiting errors and omissions on your part. Due to process management and documentation processes associated with Business Manager 365, the software will alert your management team and allow you to be proactive when it comes to potential errors that could be costly to you and your customers. 

The expanding role of technology in litigation is increasing every day due to the ways that people and companies are changing and using technology. With an increased use of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, texting, and messaging software, we have come to expect that these communications are legally binding, but are they? The short answer is yes; an increasing number of precedents are showing that the courts are excepting text messages, instant messages, and other forms of electronic communications as written agreements. In many cases, this is an excellent example of what I consider to be disassociated data or communications because, in most cases with these types of communication, only the sender and receiver know that the conversation ever took place. This issue is a shortcoming of existing technology. Without a central repository and a manner to automatically synchronize data when it comes to litigation finding emails, text messages, or instant messages to prove your case can be very difficult at best.  
When it comes to text and instant messages, it is vital on several fronts to use the corporate plans. This also goes for file sharing sites like Dropbox. Avoid giving the impression that you are not claiming your intellectual property by allowing employees to use personal devices for company business. Make sure you draw that line. Consider using AT&T’s Business Messaging System to capture and archive employee text messages for up to seven years. Other providers such as Verizon and T-Mobile offer similar products. Instant messaging is another process that you should be capturing. Again, most providers like AT&T offer corporate plans that give you an ability to capture and store employees’ instant messages.  Texting and Instant message retention is one area where technology can help you or hurt you when it comes to litigation. 
Using technology to develop a central location for document storage and project collaboration that tracks revisions, approvals, and access to different company-related records is more critical today than ever. Business Manager 365 has extensive document management capabilities that tie documents to work orders, projects, or individual clients. These documents can also be secured to ensure only people with the proper permissions have access to related materials. 
Other products also do a great job of managing records in a collaborative environment.  Citrix ShareFile Enterprise is a powerful document sharing system that has a high level of security and is offered in both local-install and cloud-based versions. Citrix ShareFile Enterprise from a collaboration tool is also very powerful due to it’s (a) integration with Office 365; (b) ability to synchronize data with internal resources as well as third-party resources; (c) e-signature processes; and (d) custom customer portal. Microsoft Teams is also becoming a powerful collaboration tool. This product allows for real-time collaboration and integration with Office 365; includes Skype, OneDrive and SharePoint; and offers a high level of security and permission setups.
Trust me; you don’t want an IT person dictating risk mitigation in your organization. However, risk mitigation does fall under expected roles to have the ability to recommend and implement protections that limit the exposure for your business. In many cases, this becomes a matter of convenience for employees, whatever they want to do to get through a stressful and demanding day at work. However, we all must understand that the picture is truly significant. Without an eye on how you document and manage your employees’ work processes when it comes to litigation, you can put yourself on the losing side resulting in significant costs to your business. 
About the Author: Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies, which includes Liberty One Software. Scott has more than 36 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology subjects. Scott has worked with hundreds of large and small businesses to empower them to use technology to improve work processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Scott has designed thousands of systems for large, medium, and small companies, and Winning Technologies’ goal is to work with companies on the selection, implementation, management, and support of technology resources. Learn more about Winning Technologies at www.winningtech.com or call 877-379-8279. To learn more about Business Manager 365, visit www.businessmanager365.com.