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Forward Looking Law Firms are Adopting ‘Payment Over Time’ for Technology Purchase

Monday, October 23, 2017

Guest Blog by Barry Bostoff, Business Development Manager, Econocom UK

Today in our personal lives, rather than making large one-off payments to own expensive items, such as IT devices, cars and such, many of us opt for a purchasing model that allows us to use the products without necessarily ‘owning’ the assets. Given the rapid pace of technology and how quickly some of these items become obsolete, smaller, affordable payments give us all the benefits of using the products as if we owned them, but with an attractive option of upgrading to the latest version at the end of a defined period of time.

The same rationale applies to law firms and indeed any type of business. By purchasing technology assets on a ‘payment over time’ basis, firms can fund everything that is critical to business operation – from hardware such as PC, tablets, servers, telecom systems and digital devices through to complex software projects like practice management, document management, case management and so on.

Adopting this approach to technology investment offers many business advantages from a cash/finance perspective – specially to law firm partners:

  • Tax efficiency – The cost of renting the technology comes off the Profit & Loss account, which makes the technology purchase a lot more tax efficient. This in turn also means that partners pay less tax themselves, which can be substantial considering that most of these individuals fall under the higher income tax category.

  • Cost distribution across partnership is equitable – Historically, law firm partners have invested in expensive, business-critical technology systems, the benefits of which they may have never fully experienced, due to the timescales involved in some of these projects coming to fruition. Say for instance, a law firm needs to implement an integrated document and case management system across multiple offices. Such projects can often take multiple years to deliver ROI. Rather than a partner, who is due to retire before the system truly takes effect, paying upfront for the project; a ‘payment over time’ approach ensures that the individual only pays for the legitimate portion of the technology cost/rental while in office. Subsequently, the new partner taking over the role of the outgoing individual also takes on the continuing cost of the project. The cost burden on partners is significantly reduced and is equitably spread across the partnership.

  • Cashflow – Firms need a healthy cashflow for smooth business operation. It gives them the flexibility to react to changing client requirements and market forces. Rather than depleting a significant portion of the firm’s cash reserve upfront on a resource intensive technology project – by adopting the ‘payment over time’ model, firms could optimise their funds to invest in activities that are core to the organisation or indeed expand into new areas. Additionally, firms can remove the spikes in their cash flow by replacing them with simple, defined monthly payments.

  • Higher ROI – Typically finance directors assign expected ROI rates for the investments they make for the business. For example, the expected ROI from a £100K investment in IT may be 2%, but the same amount of outlay in people or a physical asset may be assigned a higher ROI of 4%. Therefore, a ‘payment over time’ approach delivers a better return on the firm’s cash investment.

However, perhaps the biggest benefit to law firms – who heavily rely on IT for business operation – of this approach is that it offers them unprecedented level of freedom to continually upgrade and refresh the required technology assets across the duration of the payment plan. If at the end of 18 months, the firm decides to transition to the next version of its document management system, it can easily do so my adjusting the monthly payment figure accordingly. Partners can ensure that they are matching the investment costs of the business with the benefits being delivered over a number of years. Already, many firms including Wright Hassall, Wiggin, Boyes Turner, Stephens & Scown, Wilsons and Geldards are benefiting from this approach.

About the author

Barry has worked in the Legal sector for over 15 years, fulfilling sales roles in software and finance. He has an excellent knowledge of the software tools used by law firms and the impact that buying and implementing these has on a firm’s cash flow.

Monday, August 21, 2017

iManage’s Acquisition of RAVN – Impact on the Future of Document Management

- Guest Blog by David Fisk, Commercial Director at iManage RAVN

Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers the promise of significantly transforming our personal and professional lives, and much has been made about its impact on the workforce, perhaps not always positively. The reality, however, is that AI enables individuals to improve and enhance their capabilities and quickly adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

AI by itself is relatively meaningless. The true power of AI is when you don’t even notice it. The best example is consumer vehicles, specifically self-driving cars. No one is adding an AI platform to their ‘non-smart car’ – instead, people are buying a car with this functionality already built-in. As you are driving in your self-driving car, you know there is AI technology running in the background, but you don’t actually see it working.

iManage has most definitely stolen the march in the AI space following its recent acquisition of AI- platform, RAVN Systems, making the company one of the largest vendors of AI – not just in the legal sector, but more widely across industries. iManage has already started integrating the RAVN AI-platform in many of its Work Product Management offerings. The effect of this development on traditional document, content and knowledge management is going to be phenomenal - raising the bar and indeed the expectations of users of such software across many industries. For instance, RAVN already has a significant client base in sectors including finance and real estate.

The combined iManage-RAVN offerings will take iManage Work from being a powerful, next generation document management system to becoming a leading-edge content awareness platform. With tens of millions of objects in a data repository, unless the information is analysed in metadata fields, it’s very difficult to locate the right facts/evidence/material in the content residing in the system. The RAVN AI engine in iManage Work can mine the information in the content to enable organisations to repurpose knowledge and gain insight on matters that can help law firms offer value added services – but the possibilities are endless.

Specifically, for law firms and in-house legal departments, the coming together of iManage and RAVN has opened up the possibilities of developing exciting applications to deliver efficiency to customers in the way matters are handled, insight is extracted and leveraged or legal documents are analysed. Let’s take a look at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), a UK-governmental department in charge of prosecuting complex cases of fraud and corruption. The SFO recently used RAVN to help a team of investigators sift through 30 million documents, processing 600,000 documents per day. Without the use of RAVN’s AI search capabilities, the investigation quite likely would never have completed.

In the near future, customers can expect to see a strengthened search capability in iManage Work. In addition to the traditional search functionality currently offered within the product, customers will now be able to take advantage of the more advanced knowledge management offering via the RAVN integration. Similarly, the extraction capability plugged in to iManage Work will greatly enhance the system, regardless of whether matters sit in workspaces at the law firm end or in the collaborative areas with clients.

Today, iManage is at the forefront of this technology and positioned as a dominant player in this burgeoning area. Many organisations that offer AI today are fairly small start-ups with limited trading history, which in itself carries a substantial risk for law firms and organisations to adopt their solutions. iManage and RAVN are well established companies with a rich history of innovation and proven product offerings, which will give customers the confidence to deploy the combined solution to meet business needs and even gain a competitive advantage.

There is a feeling that AI might solve business problems someday in the distant future. However, iManage completely disagrees with this premise – companies are using iManage RAVN to solve real-world business issues TODAY!

There will be lots of exciting things that will be unveiled in the months to come – watch this space!

About David Fisk

David joined RAVN Systems 5 years ago to add a commercial layer to what was a very engineering-centric but exciting start up. Tasked with taking their highly innovative technology to market, the journey has been exciting and rewarding. Having originally graduated with a degree in electronic engineering, his career has subsequently included spells in business consultancy, indirect sales management, direct sales, and management.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

7 Reasons Why Lawyers Will Love iManage Work 10

By Daren Chidwick, Technical Consultant, Ascertus Limited

I’ve been a longstanding user of FileSite, a solution that provides the iManage content management add-in within Microsoft Outlook. However, since moving to iManage Work 10, the latest version of the solution, I’ve actually stopped using FileSite. It is a personal preference of course.

Nevertheless, I believe lawyers too will love iManage Work 10. Here’s why:

  • Improved Outlook performance and usability – Work 10 offers a much lighter weight add-in to Microsoft Outlook, other MS Office applications and Adobe Acrobat (Gmail is now also supported). This means that most of the tools that lawyers use on a day-to-day basis are seamlessly integrated and Outlook will typically load faster!

  • Access to data on the move – without compromising user experience – The solution offers a new, modern web user interface, which means that lawyers can access data from any device, anywhere, anytime. Most crucially using the solution requires minimal training; and the experience of using Work 10 is the same regardless of whether the device is a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Not many solutions today offer this kind of device agnostic, consistent user experience.

  • Enhanced ‘suggested filing’ a time saver – The analytics in Work 10 have been improved to provide even more intelligent and targeted suggested filing locations for emails, based on usage history. Lawyers can save files directly from Outlook into Work 10 in multiple locations with a single click; and previously filed emails are clearly marked, so fee-earners won’t waste time filing what is already saved in the document management system. Additionally, emails can also be viewed by conversation thread in Work 10, which is useful.

  • Managing attachments is simplified – Due to the introduction of intelligent filters, with a single click, lawyers can immediately filter a folder, to display only the emails that have attachments. Given the volume of documents that lawyers send and receive on a daily basis, this is a great time saving feature. Version control on incoming emails with attachments has been significantly enhanced too.

  • Co-authoring and collaboration – The collaboration capability is significantly boosted in Work 10. Two or more people can simultaneously work on a document, safe in the knowledge that one of those individuals has complete control over the versioning process. It’s worth noting that this feature presently requires Microsoft OneDrive, either in the cloud or on-premises.

  • ‘Soft’ deletion, recovery and peace of mind – Typically, lawyers are extremely reluctant to delete documents, at the risk losing key case information. Work 10 offers ‘soft’ deletion of documents – this means that even though a document may have been deleted, either in error or otherwise, should the lawyer require that file in the future, the solution administrator will be able to recover it at a later date.

  • Seamless on and offline working – The solution enables individuals to seamlessly switch between offline and online working. All the documents that lawyers work on are automatically cached to the local profile on their device. Say for whatever reason, the firm’s network goes down for a period of time, lawyers can continue to work on their PC. When the network is back up again, Work 10 will detect that the individuals are back online, and give the lawyers an action to sync the changes and/or create a new version of the documents they were working on at the time. This is excellent for business continuity.

Technology adoption for me is all about making life easier, enabling me to improve my efficiency and productivity so that I can focus on the more critical aspects of my work. Adoption of iManage Work 10 is a big step in this direction. The feedback that we have received from lawyers who have moved to Work 10 is similar too.