Peer to Peer Magazine

Summer 2019: Part 1

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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P E E R T O P E E R : I L T A ' S Q U A R T E R L Y M A G A Z I N E | S U M M E R 2 0 1 9 27 Overcoming inertia and taking the next step in your process improvement can be overwhelming but will certainly pay dividends in the future. Firms need to aim for process improvement that spans the entire business to future-proof the firm. Firm-Wide Culture Change One of the greatest challenges within firms is resistance to change. Whether that's new technolo, new ways of thinking or new processes, partial adoption will stop progress in its tracks. Firms must invest in new roles, process redesign and training, but there is a risk of underperforming no matter which tools are available. For process improvement to work, firms must adopt a culture of change. Process examines the way things have always been done, keeps what works and optimizes what doesn't. It applies science and logic to the entire business, and it simply doesn't work unless everyone is on board. Therefore, it's crucial that process improvement is encouraged and endorsed by the firm's leadership. Individuals must feel empowered to try new things, even if failure is possible. Firms must accept that failure is sometimes a part of innovation and empower their people to try good ideas, if they don't deliver and move on to the next good idea. Strategic Technolo Investments Firms often have access to a wide array of technologies that can improve efficiency, but selecting the right solution and applying it to firm-wide processes can be tricky. Meeting with IT to understand and evaluate a firm's current technolo options is a good place to start. The best solutions for process improvement have a few things in common: • Cloud solutions offer frequent updates and easy access anywhere in the world • Extensive integration options maximize the value of existing technolo • Visual dashboards can help you track and report on efficiencies at a glance • Easy-to-use workflow and task features empower quick changes and updates • Enterprise-grade security protocols protect your business and client data Embrace New Roles Process improvement is a weighty undertaking. It can be difficult to determine who within the firm is best suited to take responsibility for overhauling processes. Enter the process engineer. Common in other industries, a legal process engineer is responsible for understanding the goals of the firm, examining the interoperation of departments, mapping existing processes and then designing and deploying new processes with a focus on efficiency. Firms should also consider hiring a business analyst or digital solutions architect to manage their process initiatives. Regardless of title, the people responsible for process improvement must: • Work closely with all departments to develop a deep understanding of their work and how changes to existing processes will impact them • Stay up to date on technolo roadmaps, cultivate knowledge of technolo capabilities and find creative applications • Receive ongoing feedback and evaluate process effectiveness, optimizing where required • Report results to the business and further encourage firm-wide adoption Workflow Automation and AI I know the words "process improvement" don't fill people with excitement the way that buzzier terms like automation and AI do, but process is what takes automation and AI from a novelty to the next level. Unfortunately, there's an ongoing misunderstanding about what these tools can actually achieve. Today, the application of workflow automation and AI deliver efficiency and accuracy to processes by performing time-consuming, repetitive tasks, freeing staff to complete more complicated work. Use client intake as an example. Instead of having staff dedicated to answering calls or receiving emails from clients when they need the firm's guidance on a matter, and then manually managing next steps like an initial screening, combine different technologies that automate — and dramatically speed up — the process. Perhaps offer online instructions that provide clients with quick, self-service access to the information needed to better leverage expertise. From that web portal, the client can then request services using an online form. Once submitted, the data collected can be used to automatically triage the request, route it to the right people for action and trigger a series of project tasks that will be tracked from day one. Now, apply those potential time savings to other processes across the business. While it's not the magic solution that firms dream about, automation and AI make your daily routines more efficient, trackable and accurate, positioning a firm for ongoing success. Process improvement is never really over, but don't let that discourage the work. It's important to remember that it's likely to be a complex and time-consuming journey, but one that will be well worth the effort. By optimizing processes with a culture of change, new technologies and new roles, and automated workflows, a firm can be more than ready for whatever the future holds. ILTA

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