Ascertus Case Study: Eurotunnel
Ascertus overcomes technical challenges to deliver a successful implementation
Established in 2007, Kyllingstad Kleveland Advokatfirma DA (KKLAW) offers specialised legal advice to clients in the oil and gas, offshore and oil services, shipping and marine industries. From its offices in Oslo and Stavanger, the firm works on a wide range of national and international projects across these sectors.
In a law firm, unsurprisingly the volume of documentation and email is potentially among the highest across professional services sector organisations. At KKLAW, typically, cases run over a number of years, given the complexity of law suits in the oil and gas, offshore, shipping and marine industries. Also, often teams comprise a number of lawyers who bring different expertise and experience.
KKLAW did not have a document or email management system. All matter-related emails were stored in personal Microsoft Inboxes of individuals. Fee earners were using .pst files in Microsoft Outlook and files were archived in Windows Explorer. This made finding information extremely challenging as files in Windows Explorer are stored by subject line of emails. Critical information such as date, to whom the email was sent, from whom it was received and to which matter it related are not included, making it unfeasible to locate discussions and information. It was also an intensely time consuming process when specific case related information was indeed important to locate.
As the firm grew, it became amply evident that a formal document management system was business critical.
“This was not an unusual situation,” explains Jon Wainwright, Sales Director at Ascertus Limited. “At most firms, fee earners use their email inboxes as filing systems, but Outlook is not designed to be so. By its very nature, it’s unstructured, so there is no way of determining which emails are important and which cases they pertain to. As email volumes increase, despite the utmost care, it becomes impossible to categorise emails for easy access and records management. How often does it happen that an email is initiated on a particular subject, but ends up as correspondence on numerous other matters? In fact, when emails are archived to outside files, it becomes even harder to search for information.”
As KKLAW was scouting around for a document management system, Unni Hoydahl, Head of Administration, received an invitation from Ascertus to a company event in Oslo. “The invitation was entirely coincidental and timely,” informs Hoydahl. “Many corporations and banks attended the event, so we had the opportunity to talk to organisations that had experience of working with Ascertus, or were well down the decision path in favour of the company.”
Ascertus clearly demonstrated its expertise and experience in implementing document management solutions.
KKLAW eventually took the decision to grant Ascertus the contract for its email and document management system based on a recommendation from DNB Bank, Norway’s largest financial services group. “Even though we were the first law firm to award the contract to Ascertus, we had confidence in our selection,” says Hoydahl.
Post a thorough analysis of KKLAW’s requirements, Ascertus developed a tailored email and document management solution based on iManage Work. This system was also KKLAW’s preferred solution following the firm’s own investigation into software available on the market. Like many other law firms, KKLAW uses Microsoft technology. iManage Work integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook, so the solution was a logical choice. Also, iManage Work is extremely simple and intuitive to use, which meant that minimal training would be required for employees. This in turn implied that introduction of this new technology would be least disruptive to the day to day working of the business.
Prior to implementing iManage Work, KKLAW upgraded the firm’s enterprise resource planning system and also deployed a new Citrix platform with ASP.NET Enterprise Manager. It was imperative that iManage Work integrated with these systems too. “The ease with which Ascertus was able to work with these other technology systems showed the team’s technical nous,” comments Hoydahl.
Alongside iManage Work, Ascertus also implemented compareDocs, to give fee earners the ability to compare the difference between two documents with accuracy and collaborate with other team members – without risk. The other useful tool deployed at KKLAW was pdfDocs. It tightly integrates with Microsoft Office, making it easy and quick for users to create pdfs.
“The implementation was painless and went exceptionally smoothly,” recounts Hoydahl. “As we know, when deploying technology, it isn’t always the case. I think it boils down to a collaborative approach across all parties involved – i.e. Ascertus, our ERP vendor and the KKLAW team. Ascertus’ consultancy-led approach to solution deployment played a major role in this mix.”
Ascertus took a matter-centric approach to configuring iManage Work. This means that centralised, matter-related workspaces have been created in the solution to enable information pertaining to individual cases from all data sources to be stored – correspondence, data, voicemails, emails, documents and more.
Today there are over 35 users of the combined iManage Work, compareDocs and pdfDocs email and document management solution at KKLAW. The firm has closed all other locations for document storage making iManage Work the default email and document site.
The solution is delivering substantial efficiency and productivity gains to fee earners. Emails pertaining to all cases are archived. Often critical case-related discussions take place over email and it is necessary that those dialogues are captured. Teams working on cases are now able to go into the matter-related workspace in iManage Work and access them as necessary because they are stored based on naming conventions that suit the workings of KKLAW.
In addition to emails, all types of documents are automatically stored and accessible in iManage Work. Some cases run over a period of four to six years and sometimes more. There are some instances where for each case there may be close to 10,000 documents. Despite the large volume, users are able to find the right documents relatively easily.
Fee earners routinely collaborate across teams on case related documents. In the past, version control was a major issue and hugely time and labour intensive. Today, users are able to make comparisons between versions easily without doubting the accuracy of the final documents.
Creating court bundles is much simpler too. Ascertus has tightly integrated pdfDocs with Microsoft Outlook at KKLAW. Consequently, users can quickly and simply create these document bundles from within Outlook, eliminating the need for them to log into another tool. They now also have the option of saving the electronic court bundles into iManage Work. This means that other team members can access the bundles, saving them time in re-inventing the wheel.
“Fundamentally, the iManage Work system has simplified email and document management across the firm. It’s so easy to use that adoption wasn’t a problem at all. The solution’s benefits were obvious from the word ‘go’. It is also very assuring that Ascertus is always at hand, if we have any problems. Saying this, such instances have been few and far between – the solution just works!”, concluded Hoydahl.