We don’t necessarily need big financial paybacks to justify new implementations of technology.
Working away from the office over the last couple of months has made us all think differently. Especially about the difference between productive and unproductive time. This is a valuable learning experience, especially in the legal world with its roadblocks to efficient working.
We should bear these lessons in mind when life returns to normal. Because every unnecessary pain point that we identify is a potential driver for automation.
Traditionally, it has been difficult to build use-cases for automation in law. It is difficult to see exactly where automation lives in the enterprise and to identify low-hanging fruit: something that takes three days and could take three hours.
This was especially the case when development was expensive, inflexible and removed from the professionals who would actually use the system.
Agile development and no-code tools have greatly transformed system development. And the use-cases are out there, if you know how to look. Two important things to remember are that paybacks do not have to be cashable and, at the beginning, they do not have to be large: once you get the snowball rolling the benefits of automation can quickly spread.
Here are five ideas for spotting use-cases:
1: Look at routine chores that take you five, ten or fifteen minutes at a time, but which you need to do every day. The stuff that’s on everyone’s plate, like filling out time sheets. What are the things that admin staff and managers are always having to chase? In short: what do you have to do that you don’t enjoy? This is where automation can take away some of the pain and make for a happier team.
2: Think about documents. We like to think we’re moving to a digital age, but in the legal world many transactions are still document-based. Switching to a digital portal approach brings immediate benefits: it takes care of delivery and tracking the data – a real pain point – and you no longer need to worry that different versions of the document are flying about.
3: Look at the transaction points – any point in a process which amounts to a transaction. This might be intake, onboarding, closing. These are invariably where we experience hold-ups, so the efficiency gains and thus the use case for automation is obvious.
4: Think about benefits in aggregate. Automating one step is great, but once you get more than about three together you’re potentially building a suite of applications which can be bundled together. When colleagues realise they can go to one place and do lots of things, take-up will mushroom.
5: And finally, the use case doesn’t have to be big, it just needs to add incremental value – even if that’s only pennies or seconds. Famously, the best way to make a million dollars is to make one dollar a million times. Everyone’s always looking for the big wins, but in searching out the small steps you shouldn’t shy away from smaller prizes.
The overall mantra should be: define what a is a win – and to really know your audience. If nobody uses your innovation, it’s not a solution.
In the current crisis, we’re spotting things we could do better every single day. Let’s make the most of that learning.