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#1 - May 2022 - The Do More Edition

A NEWSLETTER DESIGNED TO HELP YOUR LAWYERS DO MUCH MORE.

Welcome to our newly launched regular newsletter – ShareDoMore.

 

Every two months, we will bring you all the latest insights, advice and legal technology news curated by our team of experts. This month we focus on how legal case management platforms such as Sharedo can help lawyers make light work of countless daily tasks, leaving you laser-focused on delivering the best outcomes for your clients.

6 SMALL BUT POWERFUL WAYS TO HELP YOUR LAWYERS DO MUCH MORE.

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Ben Nicholson

Co-founder, Sharedo

Competitive pressures, juggling client expectations and the age-old challenge to “do more for less” affects the legal services sector like any other industry.

But with the scarcity of legal talent driving law firms to do even more each day within existing headcount, the problem is exacerbated and unlikely to resolve itself anytime soon.

 

Tech “done right” can play a huge role in enabling lawyers to streamline and super-charge performance and, ultimately, be more profitable.

 

Here’s six ways in which we are helping thousands of lawyers be more efficient and achieve super-human results to out-perform their competitors.

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01

GO WITH THE FLOW AND AVOID CONTEXT SWITCHING

However much we may think that we’ve reached legendary status in multi-tasking, our brains cannot focus on two sources of input at one time.

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FEAR IS NOT THE MIND-KILLER, CONTEXT SWITCHING IS THE MIND-KILLER.

Elon Musk

Many have called this now legendary Clubhouse livestream comment by one of the great entrepreneurial innovators of our time as a deeply profound statement.

 

What Musk means is that when we are constantly switching from one task to another, our productivity, and indeed our mind, is destroyed. Put simply, we are constantly breaking our natural flow and jeopardising the successful completion of each task.

 

While we agree that Musk’s observation goes to the very heart of one of modern life’s biggest impediments, it’s not a new phenomenon. We’re positively fixated on addressing this very issue and have spent the last five years and more on developing technology solutions to improve and enhance flow time for legal firms.

 

So how does Sharedo help with context switching?

 

Sharedo prioritises your workload, enabling you to quickly see the most pressing task that requires your focus at any single point in time. It constantly adapts and re-prioritises tasks as matters evolve, giving you the right focus at the right time.

 

Sharedo also monitors your work against critical success factors. If something changes, such as a task is soon to be overdue or how now been flagged as more urgent, it alerts you. And, importantly, it provides you with any supporting tools and contextual help to reduce the likelihood of switching to a different task.

 

Just like we would recommend you do with other technology apps like e-mail, Slack and Teams, Sharedo also lets you “mute” notifications to avoid that ever-present curse of context switching. This can be set at a granular level, so you can again minimise any breaks in flow.

 

However much we may think that we’ve reached legendary status in multi-tasking, our brains cannot focus on two sources of input at one time.

02

DELEGATE TASKS AND OPTIMISE YOUR RESOURCE LEVELS

Sharedo brings extra power to your people and operations through an accumulation of incremental improvements to how you collaborate.

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Outside of the “lawyering” to be done on a matter, there are many activities which can be delegated to support staff, shared service centres or processing teams. Activities such as compliance activities, litigation and post completion support require a lot of resource to complete.

 

Given the scarcity of legal talent, it’s imperative for your lawyers to be able to delegate these tasks quickly and reliably. Added to this, you need to be confident that tasks are delegated safe in the knowledge that your key people will be kept informed of their outcome.

 

Sharedo provides an ‘instant delegate’ function for all activity, alongside resourcing dashboards and notifications so you can keep track of progress and overall performance.

But managing traffic of work is only half the picture.

 

Implementing a shared service centre using Sharedo is an excellent way to centralise common processes and provide relief for fee-earners from repetitive non-legal tasks. Again, they’ll always remain up-to-date on progress and vital information.

 

This brings a real step-change to our client’s overall performance. But there is more that can be achieved by automating the allocation of these tasks through ‘allocation rules’ that makes the whole process even more streamlined.

 

Sharedo brings extra power to your people and operations through an accumulation of incremental improvements to how you collaborate.

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03

GREAT UX SAVES MANY MINUTES, MANY TIMES A DAY.

Truly great UX, however, recognises that not all ‘users’ are the same. In addition to varying job roles, they will have different needs, skills and preferred styles of working to name but a few.

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When you think about user experience (UX) in digital platforms, you may mistakenly think about a slickly designed user interface (UI) or quick loading app.

 

UX is about much more than this.

 

It’s about applying a deep understanding of how people can best interact with your platform to complete tasks and collaborate with others to be more successful. It’s about focusing on people’s needs and making every task they complete as streamlined and as intuitive as possible.

 

Optimising case interactions can shave minutes off every single process, each and every time it is undertaken. These frequently saved minutes quickly add up to huge savings. Minutes that enable your fee-earners to achieve the super-human results they thrive on.

 

Most case management systems are designed to be the key operational system for your internal staff and the platform they will be using for a good proportion of each day. Poorly designed case management systems often do more harm than good. They not only frustrate your people but can lead to above average employee attrition. Needless to say, it is imperative that user experience is “front of mind” for a case management system.

 

Sharedo’s UX is designed explicitly for legal teams and individuals. Designed and built from the ground up, it is not a by-product of a software platform designed for a different purpose. Instead, every ‘line of code’ has been written and continually optimised to streamline for legal processes. This is why we confidently describe Sharedo as being “designed for you”.

 

Truly great UX, however, recognises that not all ‘users’ are the same. In addition to varying job roles, they will have different needs, skills and preferred styles of working to name but a few.

 

Sharedo is powered by a unique ‘persona engine’ that enables the personalisation of every single interaction by role and user type.

04

UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS OF 'AUTOMATED PRECEDENTS'

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You’ve created a brilliant piece of legal advice and need to share it. But, as is often the case, time is limited, and it’s put aside for when you have more time to do this. Time that will never come.

 

Just like any other form of interaction, Sharedo makes it easy to save time and seamlessly share this with relevant groups, saving you that all important time and avoidance of dreaded context switching.

As the name suggests, Sharedo makes sharing easy. Within a couple of clicks or drag-and-drop of your mouse, you can send files via DocuSign, email, outsourced post, or share materials via a Virtual Dataroom, safe in the knowledge that external access is secure and strictly controlled.

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05

SEAMLESS SHARING AND CLEVER COLLABORATION

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You’ve created a brilliant piece of legal advice and need to share it. But, as is often the case, time is limited, and it’s put aside for when you have more time to do this. Time that will never come.

 

Just like any other form of interaction, Sharedo makes it easy to save time and seamlessly share this with relevant groups, saving you that all important time and avoidance of dreaded context switching.

As the name suggests, Sharedo makes sharing easy. Within a couple of clicks or drag-and-drop of your mouse, you can send files via DocuSign, email, outsourced post, or share materials via a Virtual Dataroom, safe in the knowledge that external access is secure and strictly controlled.

+1  

SAVE AN HOUR A DAY 

TO DO MORE.

At Sharedo, we’re all about the +1s, and this list-based article is no different!

 

Imagine what you could do if you had an additional working hour each day?

BILL MORE?

CONTRIBUTE TO PRACTICE-WIDE INITIATIVES?

UPDATE YOUR KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT?

FOCUS ON CLIENT SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS?

SUPPORT A COLLEAGUE?

Many of our clients set themselves the challenge of ‘saving an hour a day’ – a bold statement, perhaps, but one that is achievable when you look holistically at the savings that could be achieved.

06

AUTOMATE TO SAVE TIME

Probably the most effective way to save time is to simply get the “machine” to do the work for you.

By automating key steps in your processes – or indeed the whole process – you can significantly boost your “lawyering” capacity.

The key is to automate appropriately for you “work style”, as different user groups and different practice groups will need varying degrees of automation. That’s why Sharedo advance workflow capabilities enable you to support different work management styles across your business.

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TOP 7 CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS FOR IMPLEMENTING CASE AND MATTER MANAGEMENT  SUCCESSFULLY.

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Ben Nicholson

Co-founder, Sharedo

When ‘done right’, your case or matter management system (CMS) quickly becomes a critical part of your business. 

As a fundamental cornerstone, it can deliver process improvement to all practice areas and provide outstanding operational insight across your business.

 

However, despite your very best of intentions, if your CMS is poorly designed or badly implemented for you, it can do more harm than good. It could either be improperly used, resulting in costly and time-consuming errors that frustrate your clients and employees, or it won’t be used sufficiently to deliver a strong return on investment.

 

We’ve spent the last five years building a reputation for personalising and implementing first rate case management systems for legal organisations across the UK and beyond. While we’re always learning, here’s the top critical success factors to get right to ensure you experience a successful CMS implementation.

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01  MANAGE CHANGE EFFECTIVELY

True and lasting change has historically been very difficult to achieve in the legal Industry. Natural resistance tends to be high and adoption rates being very low. And that’s before we factor in change management as a discipline being at its infancy within many firms.

 

With Change Management being cited as the single most important factor for a project’s success, its importance cannot be under-estimated.

Effective change management requires more than just effective communications or an analytical focus on detailed requirements gathering. Instead, change management should be considered as its own specialist discipline. Its lens should be firmly focused on understanding the motivations and behaviours of those that you are attempting to impact and addressing them appropriately. It is a discipline that is constantly evolving and borrows much from psychology and behavioural science.

02  ENGAGE YOUR STAKEHOLDERS

Your subject matter experts (SMEs) and key stakeholders are lawyers who are by their very nature extremely time poor. To engage them effectively you need to:​​

Understand their process – for busy SMEs there is nothing more frustrating than engaging an implementation team who need to be “educated” in their legal processes. How we approach this at Sharedo is to have legal technology experts who specialise in different practice areas, together with out-of-the-box process maps, to support them every step of the way. We work closely with teams to ensure we apply the right solution for their exacting needs and objectives.

Incremental updates – Where possible, make the first implementation a ‘true’ Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and then prove that you can deliver incremental change at pace. By executing smaller incremental updates, you are less likely to lose traction with your project schedule and undermine any promises your stakeholders have made to external parties.

Ownership – Ensure you appoint a single empowered Product Owner who can manage disparate stakeholders and take a strategic view, as well as a “Project” view. By doing this, you ensure that the work type can scale effectively across all client groups.

03  CHOOSE THE RIGHT WORK STYLE FOR YOUR PRACTICE

Case management systems by specialists like Sharedo are ultimately designed to deliver process improvements through differing levels of automation. This ranges from something as as simple as automating precedents or as sophisticated as ‘straight through processing’ that requires no manual intervention whatsoever.

 

One of the key factors for a successful implementation is getting the level of automation just right for an individual practice group. Too much automation or workflow, when it’s not required by a practice area, will only frustrate and alienate users. Too little automation for more volume-driven practice groups and you’ll get the same outcome!

04  ACCELERATE ADOPTION BY INCORPORATING BEST PRACTICE

Ultimately, this is about incorporating what’s worked well in the past and avoiding reinventing the wheel. All too often, transformation projects assume that everything must go through the transformation mill.

 

The majority of processes adopted across most law firms for a given Practice Group are very similar. Firms all follow similar processes for Litigation, Real Estate, Commercial and the like. This presents the opportunity to accelerate the delivery of these ‘core workflow’ spines by reusing common process, enabling you to focus on the truly value-added processes and differentiate your service with your clients.

At Sharedo, we’ve guided our clients to success by automating appropriately for their preferred ‘work style’. We recognise that different user and practice groups require different levels of automation, so adapting the systems to these specific needs can super-charge the overall results you gain.

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At Sharedo, we deliver this common experience in the form of Solution Accelerators.

 

Each accelerator contains both a business analysis toolkit (including processing models and supporting documents) together with out of the box solution configuration (work types, workflows and personas). Solution Accelerators enable you to engage more quickly in workshops together with configuration artifacts that enable you to implement quicker. By doing this, your implementations are not ‘reinventing the wheel’, but instead are iterating quickly against a best practice baseline.

05  CREATE A STRUCTURED IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS

The adoption of the Agile project management methodology by the entire software industry has led, in our opinion, to important established best practice often being left behind. Agile doesn’t mean no documentation or no upfront design. Instead, it advocates an appropriate level of these vital tools.

 

In addition, ‘low code’ platforms often encourage a constant state of ‘tinkering’ with system configuration. These can prove harmful, with implementations lacking strategic direction and taking too long to stabilise.

As part of any CMS implementation, we recommend investing in a considerable upfront design phase. Sharedo describe this as the ‘definition phase’, which includes:

 

Process mapping of workflows – these facilitate conversation with stakeholders and forces the thought process to ensure workflows are workable and gives clear, testable outputs for completed workflow.

High level design document – describing the overall scope of the initiative, this bible is laser-focused on what an MVP should be and ensures strong stakeholder buy-in to the end solution.

06  BUILD AN AGILE, MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEAM

You will require a variety of disciplines to successfully implement a CMS or Legal Operational Management system. Our clients enjoy the greatest level of success when the following roles are fully involved in the process.

 

Change Champion or Business Partner – the Change Champion is actively working with Practice Groups to build business cases for incremental process improvement and manage these improvements into the business. This role could be part of a wider Six Sigma style initiate.

Lead Configurator / Business Analyst – solutions such as Sharedo are designed to enable Business Analysts to quickly translate requirements into working solutions. The ideal person here can not only “speak the legal language” of a particular practice group, but can also translate and configure as well. Within our organisation we see this as the most critical role on the project. This individual tends to be the most experienced people in the team.

Document Automation Specialists – most, if not all, legal process improvement initiatives will involve significant levels of document automation. Getting automation right is essential and should not be overlooked as a dedicated role.

While the above roles are considered as the ‘core three’ on any winning implementation, larger initiatives will add further dedicated roles into the mix.

 

Workflow Developers – in a similar way to Document Automation, where there is significant demand for workflow automation across the firm, we recommend this becomes a specialist role. This frees up the Business Analysts to focus on mapping process, while enabling the Workflow Developer to focus on creating reusable and consistent workflows.

Quality Assurance – across most of our initiatives we see the quality role being fulfilled by the above core team. However, for large initiatives there are significant benefits to specialising this role. Not only does it allow you to cover the more scale but comes with the added benefit of not ‘marking your own homework’.

07  CRAFT THE RIGHT DATA MIGRATION STRATEGY

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Due to the maturity of today’s CMS market, you will more likely be replacing a legacy solution than moving to a new platform for the first time. As such, you’ll need to give considerable thought to your data migration strategy and the ‘cost benefit versus change’ trade-off. We have identified three migration strategies, each of which have their own benefits and challenges.

 

Run off files from previous system or don’t migrate any data – If you decide not migrate data, but instead run-off files on your old CMS, then we urge you to consider restructuring your operational teams around the newly created files. When a new system goes live, there is always a period of adjustment as people get used to it, during which time productivity often declines for a short period before accelerating and realising benefits. This period is critical in the change lifecycle and is often referred to as the “trough of despair”. During this period, should you decide not to migrate any legacy data, your people will be using two systems – one of which they are expected to learn. This will undoubtedly impact productivity and the effectiveness of change. To this end, we recommend restructuring your operational teams.

Migrate all case data – The seamless transfer of data between systems on ‘day one’ is by far the most acceptable solution for your end users but comes at considerable cost. There will most like be no easy mapping between the data of your new and old system and considerable effort will have to be channelled to achieve a like-for-like transfer. This effort needs to be carefully weighed up against the change benefits.

 

Migrate core case data and add the rest as unstructured – a common cost/benefit trade-off to address the complexity of migrating all case data is to only migrate the data required for day one processing, e.g. case status and milestones information. The remaining information, such as file notes or comments, can be migrated as a follow-up stage. We recommend that administrative support is provided to necessitate your case handlers “setting up” each file when they arrive to this task.

+1  IN CONCLUSION

We’re not going to fabricate reality and say that implementing case management systems is easy. Step changes that can truly transform your business for the long-term take time and effort to get right. Like any other core operational system, your new CMS will touch the majority of processes in your firm and, if done correctly, will be the catalyst to re-energise and propel your performance to the next level.

 

However, with this impact comes a significant amount of change. Change that needs to be managed carefully.

 

Our Professional Services team’s day job is implementing Case and Matter Management Systems for Enterprise Legal Service Providers. They’re a friendly and smart bunch, so if you need some advice or even a “virtual” cup of tea then feel free to reach out!

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DESIGNED FOR         

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Thank you for reading

 

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