Your Legal Services team plays an important role in your organization, not only by ensuring that its traditional legal needs are met but also playing a part in its corporate digital transformation activities. This is true especially in light of the acceleration of digital transformation that many organizations have experienced on the back of the COVID-19 crisis – which highlighted the many failure points and inefficiencies of traditional, manually-reliant processes.
However, it’s also important to recognize that there’s a need for your legal operations to digitally transform too. Because any reliance on manual activities and processes – especially where there’s now a mix of office-based and remote working – is likely to slow down operations at a time when the effective handling of increased demand and the need for speed are paramount.
Digital transformation and Legal Services
Much of the discussion around digital transformation over the last half-decade has been focused on two “front-office” elements:
- The creation of new products and services that exploit technology and data to create new revenue streams.
- The improvement of customer engagement mechanisms, throughout the customer lifecycle, that again exploit technology and data.
Your Legal Services team is also playing its part in both transformations.
However, there’s also a third – and critical – element that shouldn’t be overlooked: the need to improve business operations such that they’re fit to support the delivery of the new products and services and the improved customer engagement mechanisms.
This “back-office digital transformation” is generally replacing antiquated, manually-reliant business practices with improved, technology-enabled ways of working. It’s very much in line with a proven IT approach called “Enterprise Service Management” where IT service management (ITSM) principles, best practices, and technology are used by other business functions to improve their services, performance, and business outcomes.
A good example of this is the provision of self-service capabilities to customers (employees) to provide them with a single, simple route to legal assistance and a better service experience – including self-help when appropriate.
Employing self-service capabilities to improve legal services and support
On the one hand, it’s easy to view self-service as something that’s now expected by employees based on their often-superior, consumer-world service and support experiences. On the other, there are many benefits available to your Legal Services team and the people it supports.
Done right, self-service provides a “better, faster, and cheaper” way to deal with the corporate demand for legal services. Everyone wins! For example:
- Customers (employees) get an easier way to engage with your Legal Services team. Plus, quicker access to information and resolutions, especially when self-help can be used.
- Legal staff can firstly benefit from the “deflection” of a high proportion of demand thanks to self-help. Second, automated workflows ensure that work is efficiently passed to the right people, and back-end capabilities such as notifications, approvals, and alerts further enhance the flow of work and outcome delivery. Third, there’s improved insight into demand, workloads, and performance that can be used to further enhance the self-service capability and other areas of your legal operations.
- The business as a whole benefits from the lower costs of legal assistance and increases in capacity and speed.
Ultimately, a Legal Services self-service capability will be the most efficient and effective way of handling corporate requests for legal assistance – from their receipt (through a single channel), through their handling and management, to delivering the desired outcomes. With this capability readily available to your Legal Services team through the use of the corporate ITSM tool – such as Jira Service Management – and service management principles via an enterprise service management approach.
Learning from the self-service experiences of IT
While self-service adoption is prevalent in the consumer world, the use of self-service capabilities by IT departments – as an ITSM best practice – has brought with it a number of common issues and associated insight into the factors that cause them.
These can all be learned from so that your Legal Services team can offer a self-service capability that will not only be actively used by employees but will also deliver a better service experience, speed up work and outcomes, and reduce the effort required of lawyers and paralegals. Freeing up your legal experts to focus their time on the most important things.
So, when planning and implementing a legal self-service capability, ensure that those involved:
- Understand that the successful introduction of self-service capabilities is more about the need to effectively manage people change – using organizational change management capabilities – than it is the implementation of new technology. This is because it’s a change to the traditional ways of working for both the service requester and the service provider.
- Design the self-service capability around the wants, needs, and expectations of employees rather than those of the Legal Services (or the IT) team. Failing to do this will simply cause employees to remain fixed to the use of the existing telephone, email, and walk-up routes.
- Provide a sufficient level of knowledge articles for the capability’s launch. This is because the ability to self-help, with an immediate resolution, is a key factor in creating repeat users of the self-service capability.
- Automate the backend. If this isn’t done, then the shiny new self-service capability is nothing more than a web-based request submission system – that’s little different to email – and the potential speed and cost benefits of self-service are forgone.
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