A survey of C-level executives and Heads of IT and Innovation in the legal sector signals that in 2021, automation of workflow is going to be a business priority as nearly 80 percent believe, that it can deliver the greatest benefit to their firms. It’s not hard to see why – business process and workflow automation can play a key role in helping to devise new ways of operating, scale business, improve client experience, deliver productivity benefits to employees especially in a remote work environment, and the list goes on.
Right and wrong approach to automation
But there’s a right and a wrong way to approach automation. One firm’s ‘right’ approach to automation may be another’s ‘wrong’ way of undertaking the activity. This stems from the fact that not everyone’s definition and interpretation of workflow automation is the same.
Any firm embarking on a workflow automation journey will do well to answer these four fundamental questions to help crystallise exactly what they are looking to achieve: What efficiency (with quantifiable metrics) are we looking to gain?
- Who in our firm is going to define the process?
- Who (internally and externally) is going to build the solution?
- What technology is best suited to meeting our goals?
Simple versus difficult automation target
When selecting a target for automation, start with something difficult. Yes, this is contrary to what many technology providers will advise – the typical recommendation is ‘start with a simple process’. The issue with this advice is that a straightforward workflow in a lower volume department offers no guarantee of business efficiencies in more complex requirements later. Today, the objective of legal workflow automation must be more than merely trying to remove human touch points in a legal transaction process – it’s about gaining tangible, qualitative benefits across your firm too.
The technology solution conundrum
A common mistake firms make when automating processes is to create legal workflows focussing on how the firm customarily delivers service. Clients have expectations of their law firms and so firms’ habitual service delivery standards may not always hit the mark. Keep this in mind so that your processes reflect clients’ demands of how the firm must work with them. While there will be common needs across clients such as management information, SLAs, and charging expectations, there’ll also be demands that are unique to specific client organisations.
So, the workflow tool you select must align with your approach to automation: You need to get up and running quickly with a standard solution? Out-of-the-box workflow automation is for you.
- If you want to create the perfect automation solution, then perhaps consider building the whole toolset from scratch. There’s a drawback to this of course – time to value. Be mindful that while you are creating the dream solution, your clients could be settling for another firm elsewhere. Afterall, time is of essence for clients!
- Nevertheless, you can achieve the perfect balance between the two above-mentioned approaches – I call it the Lego Kit method. To explain, two individuals can use the same Palace of Versailles Lego Kit to build models of the structure. The Lego Kit provides all the pieces to do so whilst offering the individuals the flexibility to make their models unique. So, one person could include a coffee shop outside the Palace walls, while the other could add a helicopter pad on the roof. Both models are equally feasible with the identical kits.
The key take home here? YOU are the master of the technology that your firm deploys, it mustn’t take away your control. Rather it must provide a flexible toolset that delivers real ROI on your firm’s automation aspirations.
If you are looking for such a solution, we would be delighted to talk to you about Lexis® Omni. It’s a flexible technology platform that powers optimised legal service delivery for any legal services organisation. Please get in touch with us via email: email@example.com
This article is the first blog in a three-part blog series.