28th June 2019 | Dev

Website Dev Blog Update – June 2019

Hello sharedo’ers!

It’s been a busy month at sharedo HQ, not only are there a lot of new features being rolled into the platform but we’ve been doing a lot of work on our SaaS infrastructure as well. When we first launched sharedo back in 2015 we were expecting the majority, if not all, of our clients to adopt sharedo as a SaaS solution. How wrong we were! However we’ve seen a significant shift in law firms SaaS adoption over the last 2 years and where as in 2016 we probably had a 80/20 split in terms of on premise versus SaaS; in 2019 it feels like the other way round.

Anyway on with the highlights!

This month’s highlights

This month’s new feature highlights are;

  • Multi-party document generation – this enables you to generate a document or email for a number of different parties on your matter; with a typical use case being witness citation
  • Case Explorer – a new landing page widget enabling you to see related cases, instructions and the like. This is a usability enhancement of the previous linked cases widget.
  • Time targets (Framework hours) – in addition to specifying time targets for users or teams you can now specify them for statements of work or contracts; the typical use case being the definition of framework hours for large corporate customers.
  • Allocation Rules – through this feature you are able to specify complex work allocation rules. These are typically used to allocate a matter or task to a set of people based on criteria such as complexity or busyness.
  • Striping Rules – last month we enabled striping rules for options sets and we continue to roll out this framework feature to other parts of the application.

Multi-party Document Generation

Previously, document generation in sharedo was limited to generating a single document or document pack for a target participant. However users were often required to send the same document to multiple participants on a case. The only way to achieve this was to create a prepare document task for each recipient, which in simple cases was inefficient and in extreme cases prohibitive.

An example use case for this would be witness citations, where all participants of type witness would be send the same document. The document would need to be personalised to them and may need to capture the responses to specific questions for each participant. Where there were tens of witnesses, a better solution was required.

For sharedo, this feature became known as multi-party document generation, which is now in beta testing.

Within the Administration area of sharedo, users can now create document templates that are Multi-party. These can be created for any enabled document channel;

Once configured, the template becomes available in the Prepare menu option, as per other templates;

When executing the template, users are asked to select which participants in the configured role should be added;

Where participants are added that do not have the required information, i.e. a Correspondence address, then the user can add these in-line;

Once all of the multi party document recipients are defined the generating of the documents is done in the background so that you can get on with other tasks;

Time Targets by Work Type, Supplier and Jurisdiction

The second new feature in our highlights that we’ve added this month is some further capability in the configuration of time targets.

Within sharedo we have the top level concept of a Contract. A Contract is the relationship that an Organisation has with the system. Within this relationship, an Organisation may need to differentiate how it agrees to do work. To capture this, the child of a Contract is a Statement of Work. Statements of Work may be time limited, and are the top level association for a Fee Structure, how an Organisation charges for work for a defined time period. This time period could be the period of time where a Rate Card model is effective for Time and Materials based work, or it could be the period of time where a Fixed price menu of charges apply i.e. £xxx for a Contract Review.

Within the time period defined by a Statement of Work, there could also be a ‘budgeted’ number of hours. Organisations often have Framework Agreements with their Clients, where they agree a budget of y,yyy hours at a blended rate of £xxx/hour.

The sharedo platform has had these concepts before, but these have now been extended. It is now possible to specify the Time Targets for a Statement of Work and have these sub-divided by the work-types that may be undertaken, the jurisdictions these are offered in, or even to the suppliers that are managed.

Why is this useful?
This allows us to budget. At a Statement of Work level we can put top level budgeting in for time against a work type and by a jurisdiction. Then as Instructions are quoted and Matters created we are able to accumulate this time and compare against the budgeted amounts. Finally, as time is capture or invoices arrive from suppliers, we can accumulate this time against the budgeted amount top get visibility of how we are tracking over a time period.

It’s also worth mentioning that this all links in to the Goods and Services feature delivered in the May release, allowing us to track specific Supplier charge rates against the hours being consumed.

This is another building block for this area. In coming months we will be building out the solution to allow us to describe Delivery Cost structures. Our customers refer to these as matter plans, and are how they budget effort, time and cost to the phases of a matter, or an individual task. The development of this area will take time to complete and to get right, but these additions all contribute towards an improved ability to estimate and track finances in sharedo.

Case Explorer
A new component has been delivered to show related cases on a matter portal. Previously, sharedo provided separate components to view child cases, and linked cases. The new component provides a single view of all related and child cases;

The case network provides a link to the instruction that initiated the cases, the statement of work under which its terms are derived and any child cases. In the instance above, this shows a Proceeding added to the case.

It is also possible to add your own relationships. Perhaps this is similar to a case dealt with before, or there is an ongoing case that will settle the outcome of this one; users can now add these relationships using the search functionality;

Allocation Rules
This feature is used to assign the correct person, team to a task or matter based on a set of rules. The feature is linked to the new striping rules feature, and uses the same approach to evaluating rules.

The user interface is part of the work modeller and defines a rules set which in turn contains a number of rules to be evaluated. The following screenshot shows an example rule set for allocating the Fee Earner to a matter upon inception.

We can also now allocate cases based on busyness. In the below example, new cases will be assigned to the member of the Case Administrator team with the least number of open matters.

Striping Rules
Related to the allocation rules and operating on the same rules framework, we have also delivered a feature to allow us to trim the display of UX components based on a set of configurable rules.

The rules we have available are shown below, These can be combined into a rule set to determine flexible display rules for different UI widgets.

For example, if we want to ensure we only show specific items to a client participant who has a correspondence address in a specific post code area – we could configure this;

Or, if we want to only show specific items when the logged in user has a Fee Earner persona, we could configure this; 

Or, perhaps we want to ensure the role of Client is held by a specific entity; 

Or that the value of a reserve account if greater than a specified limit;

These rules are the basis of us performing a number of the repetitive filtering and striping requests that were previously implemented in a custom way for clients.

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