Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the increasingly ‘deadline’ driven business environment that we operate in, recently we are receiving a fair number of queries from customers and prospects enquiring about solutions that can help them with a best practice approach to task management. At the recent iManage ConnectLive 2018 event in London too, the majority of our conversations centered around this issue.
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Human resource (HR) departments typically generate and handle copious volumes of paperwork – employment contracts, appraisals, policies, employee handbooks, forms, templates and the list goes on. These documents contain some of the most sensitive and confidential personal data that an organisation might hold. Of course, many departments in large organisations deploy HR software such as PeopleSoft, but these systems are designed to manage data, not documents or emails.
A recent piece of research shows that 42% of IT security incidents are caused by employee actions and 74% originate from the extended enterprise – i.e. customers, suppliers, etc. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that 40% of businesses are seeing security incidents rising since 2015, with hacker threat down to 26% in 2017 – from 33% in 2015.
Should good quality service come at a premium? And does a premium price guarantee a top-notch service from the technology provider? To provide some context to these ruminations, with a move towards value-based pricing, law firms today are having to justify their fee rates, especially if they are charging more than their competition. Most commonly, they validate fee rates based on their depth of experience and skills on the subject matter areas and the quality of service. This instils confidence in customers that they will be well represented and served by the law firm in question vis-à-vis any other legal services provider. So, shouldn’t the same criteria be applied to the pricing and quality of service provided by technology providers offering Support services?
Recently, we have witnessed a renewed interest for contract management in corporate legal departments. The benefits of this function to legal departments are inarguable – it delivers time savings and tangible operational efficiency. Given the variety of contracts that businesses enter into with internal and external stakeholders, suppliers, partners, outsourcers and so on; an automated approach helps manage these documents across their lifecycle – from contract assembly through to termination.
The frustration of legal departments when trying to secure budget from the business for legal-specific solutions is an open secret. Typically, in corporate organisations, the IT department holds the overall budget for technology and so has the final say in what tools the legal department can deploy. Invariably, due to a lack of understanding of the requirements of the lawyers, IT departments prefer to deploy solutions that they believe will be beneficial to the whole organisation – from an adoption, cost, implementation, maintenance and user benefit perspectives.
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?
I’m often asked by lawyers, especially working for an in-house legal team, to send them a physical copy of the newly agreed contract for a deal with a ‘wet ink’ signature. I’m informed that it’s corporate policy and it baffles me! I can send the document with a digital signature via email within minutes, but to send the same via post, I need to scan the 30-40 pages, print, sign and then post. On receiving the document, the lawyer likely follows the same process to send a signed copy back.
Aside from it being a highly inefficient and cumbersome process, in today’s technology-driven world, there’s a business rationale behind digital signatures:
The benefits of privately hosted systems are many – ability to scale up or down, technical support, cost-effectiveness and business continuity. I’ll steer clear of using the term ‘cloud based’ because it’s become a highly emotive and suspiciously regarded term by the legal market.
However, there’s commercial merit in using a hosted systems supplier, not necessarily for production systems’ environments, but as a suitable, alternative solution for non-production environments, such as test, development, archive and training. By selectively locating these ‘other’ server environments on to a hosted platform; and outsourcing the maintenance of business solutions (i.e. document management, CRM, practice management, etc.) to an external, securely administered platform of remote data centres (e.g. Microsoft Azure) – law firms can reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Cloud computing is gathering momentum in the legal sector – organisations can’t ignore the benefits of low costs and flexibility offered by this technology. From talking to firms, for many the toss up is between Software as a Service (SaaS) and Hosted models of cloud computing. Both cloud computing standards have valid reasons to exist of course, but firms should carefully evaluate the merits of each and suitability to their needs before committing to either model.