A New Document Management System May Save Your Business

Friday, November 10, 2017

By Antony Wells, Senior Account Manager, Ascertus Limited

Due to the pace of technological change and ever-growing regulatory demands, the business imperative for a strategic and comprehensive information lifecycle-led approach to document management is now critical. The traditional approach to document management is no longer fit for purpose. The following are the most pressing reasons why law firms need a robust approach to the function:

  1. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – Compliance with the GDPR is not going to be a one-off process. It will need to be a key component of a firms’ ongoing information governance strategy, where the role of a good document management system cannot be underestimated. For instance, organisations’ document management system must have the capability to track all personal data that is mapped to every client and every engagement in order to deliver against the GDPR requirements of ‘right to erasure’ and ‘right for data portability’. Similarly, in order to eliminate the risk of over-retention, the document management system must be able to support and apply client-specific information retention policies. The debacle of the Panama Papers remains a prime example of extremely poor document management with no retention scheduling.
  2. Functionality – Firms today need dynamic functionality that goes beyond traditional document management capability. For instance, lawyers need search capability that enables easy navigation of large results sets – tuned to their work style. Features such as document timelines, dashboards and analytics are fast becoming essential for better decision making too; and the ability to view large documents on a mobile device when on the move is now critical.

    Some firms today opt to deploy platforms such as SharePoint for document management. SharePoint is good for some things, but the cost of developing SharePoint so that it consistently delivers the above-mentioned functionality can be prohibitive due to the specialist skills required, the continuous in-house software development, and the ongoing high level of support and project management.

  3. Email management – With a large proportion of critical information residing in emails today, the ability to effectively manage email and indeed data from other sources such as voicemails is essential. Good document management systems offer the ability to easily manage both documents and emails from within the Outlook folders. Even dialogues and discussions that take place via email pertaining to matters – that don’t necessarily form part of more formalised documents – can be captured. The ease of use is phenomenal too. For instance, incoming emails are analysed and based on their inherent properties, the document management system suggests filing locations to users, who can even save emails directly from Outlook using the ‘save’ command in Office and Office 365. More advanced document management systems even provide the option of automatic email filing.
  4. Pessimistic security – Given the onslaught of breaches today, many firms are adopting pessimistic security measures, a restrictive model that automatically locks down access to data in the event of unusual activity like a user trying to see a file without the right password and security clearance. Best-of-breed document management systems offer advanced threat detection and remediation capability, which is essential to protecting sensitive data, reducing the risk of breaches and mitigating damage, should a security event actually occur.

  5. Artificial intelligence – Speedy access and informative insights into business and matter data delivers competitive advantage to law firms. This is the leading-edge functionality that some document management systems are already provide using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to help fee earners analyse information in within and attached to the electronic documents and emails to quickly and accurately locate the right facts/evidence/material across all of the content residing in the system. This capability can deliver exceptional efficiency to lawyers who often in large, complex cases have to sift through hundreds of thousands of legal documents to extract critical information. Sophisticated document management systems are integrating AI technology directly into the workflow of their solutions to learn how to do these highly repetitive tasks freeing up resources to provide more bespoke and high value add services.
  6. By adopting ‘bolt on’ or traditional document manage systems, law firms will put their business and clients at risk. Also, they will not be able to take advantage of the cost, efficiency and productivity benefits that new technology offers, which is imperative to enhancing client service and positively impacting their bottom line.

    If you are interested in understanding more about the new best-of-breed document management systems available, register here to join our Document Management webinars. The next one is running on Wednesday 29th November 2017 from 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM GMT. Alternatively, please feel free to contact me for a no obligation discussion and demonstration of iManage Work’s capabilities.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Responsiveness, Responsibility and Reliability

By Chris Thomas, Technical Support Manager, Ascertus Limited

What makes a good Support Helpdesk? The latest survey conducted independently by iManage highlights that Ascertus is very highly rated for the quality of its Support services by customers. We have also significantly improved our rating from last year. Such instances are always a good time for introspection – what are we doing well and how can we improve our offering even further?

It boils down to the holy trinity of the three ‘R’s – responsiveness, responsibility and reliability:

Responsiveness – In the last few months, Ascertus has won a significant amount of new business and therefore the number of seats we are supporting has increased significantly. Like any Support organisation, we have agreed Service Level Agreements (SLA) with individual organisations of course, but our objective is to always be responsive to customer requirements – regardless of the SLA. It’s imperative to acknowledge and record receipt of the issue in a meaningful way, be it with a phone call or a personal email to the customer by a HelpDesk team member, reassuring them that we will deal with the problem in a way that is least disruptive to their organisation. At Ascertus, to make sure that we achieve this, besides the core support team, we have additional support technicians on call, so we always have the bandwidth. Clients are never impacted by changes in our workload.

Responsibility – Typically, customers reach out to their support partner because the measures they have already undertaken haven’t worked.

Larger clients usually reach out regarding higher severity cases, which whilst less common will have a much greater impact on the business, when they do. So, we are mindful of the effect the situation is likely having on both the business and individuals, and have escalation processes in place to ensure that cases are speedily progressed.

On the other hand, smaller organisations who don’t have dedicated IT resource in-house are generally more reliant on their support partner for lower priority issues, which purely based on SLAs do not require the same level of responsiveness, but occur more often which has a bearing on the businesses’ day to day operation. We appreciate that low priority cases (based on SLA criteria) may appear higher priority to those affected, and we are aware of our responsibility to such situations.

Therefore, sensitivity to customer requirements in both situations (higher volume, lower priority / lower volume, higher priority) is a must.

Even where there’s an issue that impacts a product we support – although the fault may not be of the supported product – we try to help identify the problem and point them in the right direction for further assistance. Our customers appreciate this responsible attitude.

Reliability – When requesting support, consistency is key. Support technicians with a wealth of in-depth knowledge and experience individually is important but their ability to work closely together and pool knowledge will greatly enhance the support service. This ensures that regardless of who in the team a customer speaks to, they always get the same, consistent quality of care. At Ascertus, Support undergoes regular training so that the team is up to date on the various solutions the company provides, but also more broadly on the technological landscape, given how quickly technology is evolving.

In addition, we have well-embedded internal processes for record keeping of conversations, notes and communications, so that in the absence of an individual, service is never compromised.

We are delighted that the quality of our Support services is being recognised by customers. We are constantly fine-tuning our processes and looking for ways to enhance the service so that we can address issues in the most speedy and effective manner.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Change Management Key Success Factor in Technology Transformation Projects

While digital transformation projects are well underway in many corporates, their success, to a large extent, depends on how the organisation responds to the change and to what extent it adopts the new way of working. Technology transformation and cultural change in mindset, must therefore go hand-in-hand.

To this end, a well thought through change management programme is imperative. We find that often a well-executed change management programme (or lack of) can be the difference between success and failure of such initiatives. Based on our experience of working with corporates on such initiatives – with information and document lifecycle management forming a key part of transformation programmes – below are some insights and learnings that organisations will do well to consider:

  • Leadership – Change in the organisation must be driven from the top down. Business leaders must be fully on-board and committed to the transformation in a tangible way. So, they must be able to articulate to employees – in addition to the business rationale – the value the new way of working to them as individuals. The employee question, “how will it make my life easier”, must be answered.

  • Recognition of technology needs – Business leaders must make the effort to understand the unique requirements of the specific departments and employees, based on their roles and responsibilities. The right technology needs to be delivered for the digital and cultural change to happen. For instance, the document management needs of the in-house legal department are different to those of other departments. While for other departments a SharePoint platform may suffice for document management, the legal department needs a best-of-breed system to meet its specific requirements.

    Departmental heads must also ‘make their case’ for their IT requirements so that the business invests in technology that suits the needs of all. Otherwise, the technology transformation is likely to be partial or piecemeal. Furthermore, department leaders must recognise that their own technological needs may be different to that of their teams – but the requirements of the latter must be represented. For instance, the way and extent to which the General Counsel (GC) uses a document management system is vastly different to how lawyers use the solution. The former’s role is more strategic while the lawyers are focused on performing cases and so capabilities like email management and Google-like searches in the system are more pertinent to the latter. In technology transformation projects, its imperative that the needs of the lawyers and others are equally represented and delivered against.

  • Long-term view – Major technology transformation projects present the best opportunity to thoroughly review how the business does things, and address how they can be done better, with a long-term view. It is an ideal time to re-evaluate processes so that they are tuned to current, but flexible enough to accommodate future requirements. For instance, for corporates undertaking transformation projects today, understanding what type of information must be captured, in what format, what the approval processes are, how records should be saved and managed, what security and audit procedures should be followed – are all pertinent to GDPR compliance for the foreseeable future.

  • Training – This mustn’t be a one-off activity at the time of ‘go-live’ of the project. Training must be tailored for groups of people based on their roles, and delivered on a regular basis. This will enable a wider and more effective adoption of the technology. Most people use technology systems intuitively, and adopt those features that are of most use to them on a regular basis. However, by training more frequently and in bite-sized sessions, employees are more likely to adopt some of the more advanced features that will vastly improve their efficiency and productivity, which will ultimately reflect in the technology’s ROI to the organisation.

  • Impact on other internal departments and external organisations – Many corporates deploy collaboration sharing platforms, especially in their-inhouse legal departments where this capability is essential for information and sharing with internal departments (HR, Finance, Procurement, Sales etc), law firms and other external legal services providers. Any transformation programme must take into consideration the impact of the project on such third-parties, given that changes in technology could have a significant effect on the level and type of interaction. For instance, access rights, new processes and procedures may require communication to explain the options available and discuss how it may impact on external organisations’ IT infrastructure and the changes that may be required. Giving external partners visibility of the programme is a good idea.

Major IT transformations are the ideal time to drive change in the organisation. Corporates must take a step back and view the requirements of the business holistically to ensure wholehearted adoption by employees of the new way of working. This will only happen if the organisation takes its people along on the transformation journey and delivers technology that enables them to do a better job, effectively and productively.

In conjunction, with Carillion Plc, Ascertus is hosting a roundtable session on this topic at The Alternative In-house Technology Summit in February 2018. It is the UK’s only event focussed on delivering technology strategy to in-house legal teams. The session will discuss how in-house legal department heads can influence departmental culture, secure lawyer buy-in for new technology adoption and make new ways of working successful. Find out more here.