Often, in discussion with clients, we find that there is confusion as to the difference between Matter and Workproduct Management systems. We have outlined the features of each below and hope that it may assist your legal department to focus on those features which will best assist in containing costs and making your legal processes more efficient and effective.
Matter Management systems start with billing and cost-controls and identify those areas in which budgets have been exceeded or costs are higher than expected. Below are user comments from one of the systems:
- By having our law department implement basic spending and budgeting controls with our new e-billing system, we achieved a hard savings ROI of over 600% in the first year.
- Because of our responsibility for managing company expenditures, we led the effort to have our law department put better financial controls in place …policing compliance automatically with a new legal electronic billing system.
- Matter Management systems start with the billing process and view your legal processes from the standpoint of costs and allocations
Work Product Management
Workproduct Management systems, on the other hand, start with the legal processes used by the law departments and enable the in-house lawyers to increase collaboration internally and externally and, thus, eliminate inefficiencies. In turn, by improving the processing of documents, reviews, alerts and other workflow features, a firm can stream-line processes, be more productive and, subsequently, reduce costs and shorten turnaround times. Both systems may provide management tools, but one starts with the workproduct process and the other with a budgetary process. In a Workproduct system, savings are achieved in the following ways:
- By putting all documents on a collaborative portal or extranet, we can eliminate FedEx charges and the inefficiencies of trying to keep track of who has the latest document;
- By having a corporate account for court reporting and asking our lawyers to use those services, we don’t need to keep track of the law firm’s charges and can save money with a corporate national contract;
- By creating a workflow for leases, licenses, contracts and other repetitive workproduct, we can eliminate meetings and status reports as all management information will be available through the system.
Peter Drucker and Business Process Engineering (“BPE”)
Peter Drucker was first to focus on BPE and famously announced that most systems only ‘paved the cow paths.’ In other words, computer systems should not be implemented to make current inefficient processes faster. Instead, a firm should review their processes and then implement systems that reflect the advantages of re-engineering, technology and collaboration. This requires more work, but results in a better legal product that will provide a greater long-term impact.
What is Necessary for Work Product Management
The technology today provides for all the requirements to re-think your firm’s ‘cow paths. These include:
A cloud portal that eliminates the concern of having law firms, court reporters, and consultants accessing content on internal systems and within corporate firewalls;
Robust searching, document management, versioning control, metadata information of access and review, workflow status and tickler files;
Greater security from hackers and intrusion;
Ability to quickly and easily change libraries, lists and workflow steps as corporate requirements often change. You can’t operate an efficient department if your ot requires weeks or months to effect changes.
How Can I Be Sure this is a Successful Project?
Most consultants will advise that you should try list and incorporate all of the changes you anticipate up front as it is much more expensive to change things later on. (Like moving a wall 2 inches after you’ve built your house.) This methodology dooms most legal projects to delays and cost-overruns.
However, we advise that you start with one, easy, clearly-defined Workproduct process, see how it works within your department, with outside counsel and other vendors and change based on user feed-back. As our DeskTops templates are already built and easy to change, it allows a success before moving onto the next workproduct. The following are types of Workproduct areas which typically lead to successful implementations:
Repetitive leases and licensing information;
Re-occurring litigation such as store or car accidents;
Processes which typically involve outside law firms or vendors so that content can be uploaded, versioned, reviewed and retained without involving a physical document.
For more information or to schedule a demo, please contact us though our Contact Us page.