29 April 2020

This spring the worldwide pandemic known as the coronavirus has affected us all. CSI is in a fortunate position comparing to the average company: our clients need our software to manage their assignments and invoicing even during the crisis. 

The drastic change in our working environment caused by the pandemic has led to improvements that Legal Tech seminars have pursued for years. 

Paper does not travel when working remotely

Even though the younger generation has eagerly benefitted from various tools offering opportunities for digital data management, some law firms have stuck to more traditional models. And even if the majority of employees would all be in for new technology, the benefits remain unachieved due to a fraction of employees still sticking to old operational models. 

In law firms, paper has always been a prevalent part of the work. Those steering away from information systems have registered their hours on post-its for someone else to migrate to a chosen system. Invoicing material has been circled as physical copies of fee and expense specifications or preliminary invoices. Based on hand made markings on the printed material, data has randomly been corrected to the system, after which it's been printed again for further inspection. And finally, the invoice has ended up in paper mail. 

Circulating prints between home offices is quite challenging, so corona has encouraged everyone to take a leap into the digital era. 

Operational models made more efficient 

As a recent trend amongst our clientele we've noticed the learning of new and more effective operational models. Post-it notes have been replaced with either a mobile or a desktop app for easy time recording. In addition to reduced working hours this can result in an increased invoicing rate. When all hours are immediately registered in the system, they won't be forgotten, and there is no post-it that will get lost on its way to your desk. 

Circulating printed fee and expense specifications has been replaced with a digital process for preliminary invoices, where each inspector goes through the invoicing material, and one by one makes necessary changes directly in the digital material before signing off on it. The process is fast, effective and print-free. After the inspection round is complete, the invoicer has a finished set of materials to create an invoice from.

In addition, more and more invoices and reminders are sent to customers as e-invoices. For example, the Maventa service sends invoices primarily as e-invoices, and when e-invoicing details are missing, the invoice is sent as an email. Regular mail is only an option if neither of these two can be used. Fast, reliable and affordable.

Emphasis on document handling 

As the work of lawyers is very document-centric, companies have been interested in developing document management for years - either through separate document management systems or through shared drives.

Under the current circumstances this interest is far from fading. When an assignment is being operated by multiple persons on their own, all document management related to it - meaning the findability of documents, version management, guarding sensitive information and ensuring data security - is becoming even more critical. 

From printed reports to dashboards

Information flow is one of the challenges when working remotely. As the work community operates week after week withour regular formal and casual communication, we need to ensure that each employee still gets the support they need to complete their work.

As one can't walk to the finance department and ask for a report, employees need direct access to current and illustrative information regarding their own work in order to monitor their progress and react on deviations.

User group specific dashboards have proven to be an excellent tool. From a dashboard you can easily see the entire company's or team's key figures, or even inspect them on a personal level. If something on a certain dashboard requires extra attention, additional analyses can easily be run with interactive Pivot reports. 

Cloud services win during the corona crisis

The demand for cloud services in increasing significantly. This includes companies that previously have been keen on preserving their own server environment, but are now more open to purchasing these solutions as cloud-based services.

The reason for this is obvious. Once the software has been installed on a user's computer, the cloud-based database can be accessed from any location through an internet connection. Meanwhile, companies avoid any maintenance expenses caused by physical internal servers, and with regular backups the cloud service improves information security.

Will we remain on standby for change?

The circumstances have pushed companies to implement changes that may have been under consideration for a longer time already. Decisions on adding digitalisation and enhancing operations are made more actively and faster than before. 

This applies not only to our customers, but ourselves as well. Online meetings with customers and colleagues have become an established practice, contracts are being signed electronically and even system deployment is done remotely without problems. 

Despite the physical distance, remote meetings usually have a warm and informal mood. With a visible lack of hairdressers and in home attire, each and everyone's personality seems to be more prominent than ever before. And as travelling takes no time at all, more time remains for casual conversation and wishing each other well. 

Hopefully corona is soon defeated. The willingness to make changes, however, is welcome to stay. 

Taina Malmivirta

CSI Helsinki, Business Development Director, Partner

Devoted to marketing, communications, development projects and people. Gets motivated by continuous development of customer experience. Believes in the power of customer feedback and light processes that support a company's agility and innovation.