Post by Simon Farthing |
It would be reasonable to think in the 24/7 instant access culture of today that we would all be masters of successful collaboration. With a myriad of technology, collaboration has never been easier. And yet, many organisations and more broadly, industries, are challenged to achieve it.
The conveyancing industry serves as a good example of a sector that is split in its success to improve collaboration. Some players in the market are making truly worthy headway to overcome the numerous collaboration-related challenges they face, but others are lagging way behind. The typical Conveyancing Transaction involves a myriad of parties including the estate agents, lender, valuer, solicitors, insurers, search providers, local authorities, Landy Registry and of course let’s not forget – the seller and buyer themselves. All these participants need to collaborate with each other in some form or another to achieve a successful outcome and to share common sets of data. Technology facilitates this collaboration and with advanced case management systems, integration with third parties such as search providers, local authorities, the Land Registry and complementary technology providers, has enabled those willing to adopt it the opportunity to deliver a more cost, time and labour efficient transaction. The use of these technologies to share information with clients has improved the customer experience significantly. The reality is though, that many Conveyancers are still not utilising the technology that is available.
Even those Conveyancers who are fully engaged with technology would agree that there is still much more that can be done to improve the experience for the end users, who remain frustrated by the duplication of effort, when required to provide the same information on a number of occasions to different parties in the transaction. Those improvements need to come from the industry and not the lawyers, it is incumbent on the industry service providers, as specialists in the field, to drive innovation, for the larger good of the sector, but more importantly for the end consumers. This in turn, will require the industry players to put aside some of the competitive inhibitions and proactively work on removing the roadblocks and challenges by fully utilising the technological advances at their fingertips.
An effective way to do this is by meaningfully engaging and collaborating with industry regulators and associations to help standardise key processes across the sector. To illustrate, one of the bug bears in the conveyancing industry is that multiple parties spend time collecting the same information from buyers and sellers, which leads to avoidable delays in transactions. For example, the due diligence process requires the estate agents to capture information (e.g. property boundary, risk of flooding) on the property they are helping to sell. The lawyer and subsequently the lenders then also capture the same information independently. Wouldn’t it make sense for all this information to be captured digitally and held centrally via a single document, which can be shared with all the involved parties through an interactive web portal? This approach would require buy-in from the various parties involved in a Conveyance.
Similarly, emerging technologies present a great opportunity for service providers to collaborate safely and securely. We have already seen the impact that trials of Blockchain can offer enabling information, including financial data, to be shared in real time, potentially saving hours from completion day where traditionally funds are electronically transferred from the bottom, all the way to the top of a chain, stage by stage.
This kind of industry-wide collaboration demands a brave step forward on the part of us technology providers, as well as collective entrepreneurialism and aspiration, transcending individual insecurities, to help facilitate change and innovation. Far too often, change, improvement and sometimes much-needed disruption in business sectors are driven by regulation and government initiatives. Today, the flexibility and agility that technology offers can enable competing organisations to collaborate for the industry’s betterment as well as differentiate themselves from their competition for business gain.