On Thursday April 29, our BDM Rob Dawson sat down to record a live webinar explaining our hacks that save firms time and money. We only use the technology you already have, to automate the repetitive administrative tasks that seem to be keeping you away from productive tasks.
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Hello everyone who has joined us today for our workflow in practice webinar. So today we’re going to be going through. Some workflow stuff, so digital workflows that you might be able to use in your legal practice. If you have any questions along the way, please just post them in the Q&A on the side of the screen there. This is a non interactive session today, so we’re running. This is a live event over teams, which means that I can’t see anybody who’s joined. So you’re all anonymous, but if you want to ask a question, feel free to ask one along the way. So the first thing we’re going through is why you should implement digital workflow systems. And as you can see from this slide, it’s about saving time and making money, because of course that’s what we all want to do. Digital workflows, great. I’ve been doing digital workflow for a long time and if you ever want someone to consult on doing digital workflow, find a lazy person you know which is me. I’m I’m inherently lazy person. When the system can do something for me, that’s far more beneficial than me having to manually do that. So whatever that business process happens to be, if I can have the system do that for me automatically, that’s obviously substantially better than me having to do that. But how does that save you time and making money while at the end of the day, there’s a bunch of processes that happen, uh? Round your legal practice and they might be related, supply matters, or they might be related to the business side of a legal practice and there’s a bunch of processes that we need to go through, and this is going to be focused, particularly on billable items that you do. So it might be related to business development or HR or finance, or some of that back office stuff. Your operations that are going on because inherently, that will make you more money because you need to pay less for people who aren’t making money to do those tasks right? So that’s what we’re going to be talking about here today. So today’s agenda will be a bit of an introduction defining workflow. Essentially what workflow is when we talk about workflow, what we’re referring to feasibility, so the feasibility of your firm or practice being able to implement or execute some digital workflow projects within your practice delivering. So what the delivery process looks like and obviously they will talk about the results. So implementing digital workflow systems can substantially reduce the personal contributions to completing workflows in your practice. So again, this just comes back to automate those those tasks. All those processes that don’t inherently making money or provide a better client service, and we can say that I’m I know particularly for me, one of the most frustrating things over my career has been OK. Hey Rob, we need you to do this this thing, but the technology could could. Do not automatically and it distracts me or distracts me from doing things that I think are productive, which is obviously working with my clients and doing billable work. And I’m sure if you’re working in a legal practice you will understand the same challenge. So we need to talk about workflow. So what are we talking about when we talk about workflow? What is workflow now? There’s a distinct differentiation, or at least we believe there is between business process and workflow, so the business process is what needs to be done. So what do we actually need to do to get from point A to point B? And that is in terms of we need to collect this information, for example, and that information needs to go into this system. The workflow refers to how we doing so how we do that process, who’s doing it? What’s doing it better? Person beta system being automated? Whatever it happens to be, that’s what we talk about when we talk about workflow. Now the way that I like to talk about it quite commonly is workflow is a series of work steps. So in the process we have a series of steps in the process, but the work step is. What portion of work needs to be completed at that step in the process being work step and then within each work step we have work step tasks. So what are the tasks that need to be done as part of that work step works are commonly assigned to to an individual, so to a person or team or to a system that will complete those those tasks and once those tasks have been completed it can move to the next work step which is commonly aligned to the next step in the process and will have a bit more of a look through that as we go through. So where should you start? If you’re talking about implementing digital workflow into your legal practice, what are some things that you should consider applying digital workflow to so we touched on? You know, things that aren’t inherently related to client matters. Obviously there are direct costs via wages through to the practice, but they can be intrusive or disruptive for fairness as well. If they need to be a participant in that business process. If it’s all being done manually, that’s obviously an interruption or distraction, so some examples we’re going through today is some, just some pretty basic stuff that we’ve got together. Some customer onboarding leave requests is a good one, another. Firms have challenges with that. What we can do some around contract expires and renewals as well. So if you had a contracts register we can automate the notification to say that hey, this is coming up due for renewal station reorders. So I’m getting a stationary orders in getting them approved which cost center they’re going to or those types of things. Knowledge articles is another good one. That’s a bit of a process around that so that we can provide some transparency and accountability around having those things done and really just any business process so. Everything that you see here today we’ve built, so we just sort of put it together using the tools that we have available to us. If you can find or think of a business process that has a document or a piece of data and it needs to go through a process within the business, but collection of more information approval from somebody, validation of information, or those types of things, there are things that can go into a digital workflow. So the other thing you need to determine is the feasibility. So the first thing is can you actually digitize it? Their most things now can be digitized. I’ve been living digital for more than 10 years. I don’t have a printer at home. I’ve never had a printer in my office. I’m a bit anti printing paper because I like the convenience of just having everything at my fingertips. So being just contained within my device or my stuff, it’s in the cloud. Super super easy. But you have to ask the question, can you actually did this digitize, and is it feasible to do that? Can you system support so one of the things that tends to happen when we look at digital workflow projects is a broken workflow from non integrated systems and what we mean by that is potentially what will happen is OK in a business process. We have information come into one system and we needed to go across into the next system and we need to go across into the next system by having those systems integrated we can actually push those pieces of information through. We can push that process ahead if we have individual or separated disparate systems. That’s obviously not going to flow through and you end up with broken workflow where you need personal contribution to that business process in terms of those work steps that need to be done, someone next to copy this over to this system, someone needs to copy that system. So having integrated systems is really good. So if you’re thinking about implementing new technology systems into your practice, always look for systems that will integrate to the systems that you already have. Do you have the capability? Is the next thing, so I’d like to think that you do the ability to deliver digital workflow is often people say that it’s a technologist thing to do. You know, people who are in tech have the capability to do it. I don’t agree. I think digital workflow is best executed, maybe not delivered or configured within a system, but best executed by people who understand business process and I’m sure many local practices it doesn’t matter. Which area of practice you working understanding of business process and how something needs to get from point A to point B and what the steps are that happened within that process is something that you would have your head well wrapped around, so you’ll be able to define that. OK, what’s the what’s the next step in the process? One of the tasks that we need to do move on to the next thing. So the ability to document and define what those things are. You can essentially hand it over to someone who specializes in configuring technology and go build back. That’s the hardest. Been so if you. Have the ability to deliver that and hand that over. That’s always that’s always helpful and makes the process very easy. The other thing that it doesn’t mention there apart from capability is capacity. So capacity is always one of the biggest challenges in a legal practice that particularly related to time. So do we have the time to commit to making these things better and automating these things so when we talk about resources, we talk about capacity and capability. So if you do have the capability, but maybe you don’t necessarily have the capacity to do it. All vice versa, that’s where you could potentially bring in someone like server scaler or myself. We consult on this stuff all the time, so this is kind of what we do, but in terms of the feasibility of it, you need to assess whether you have the resources that are going to be available to deliver those types of projects. The delivery, so we always say that in the delivery process start with something simple you know. Identify a process that’s relatively simple. Build the capability to complete the process manually. So when we talk about that we’re talking about digitizing process. So make it digital and then do that process manually. So if I process this transaction manually, if I have somebody step in and complete that work step in those tasks and do that manually, that’s where we want to be to make sure that that. Process works at addresses all of the criteria is actually going to flow through to the end of that business process. Complete that manually identify the work, set tasks that the system can handle, so it might be copying data to another system. It might be adding something to a calendar, it might be updating a status or a flag on something, right? Those relatively simple things, but you start taking those tasks away, and that process starts to become automated within test the automated functions to make sure they do what we wanted to do, and then we rinse and repeat that for other business processes. So if you start with something simple. You will develop. Your skills will develop out your capability and it was your capacity to deliver and then you’ll be able to work your way through other business processes and start automating things around the practice. So I was looking at an example. So for those of you who registered and I can see that there’s a few attendees here. Today, we actually automated the registration process for this, so you filled in a form, and then when you filled in that form you would have got a a meeting request, essentially booked you in and send you the link to this live event. Here’s what we did in the background to automate it so we can see that there this is in power automate, so this is in Office 365. This is a tool it’s available if you have a Business Standard subscription or above. So this is stuff that is already available to you. More than likely the trigger was completed form, so someone submits a form. The action was to get the responses. So the details from the response is what we did was use your email address, plug that in to send the meeting requests. That obviously came from Maine. Have a link to our live event and then we created a lead into our CRM. So if you were going to apply this same principle into your practice and your random event. Human OK, well, these attendees are essentially going to be leads for us, so we’re going to follow them up ‘cause you know, we might be able to talk to them about stuff we might be able to help them with things. That’s how it would work. So since creating this I haven’t had to touch it. We obviously have the attendees here today that will flow through into into our leads automatically. So very, very simple. So let’s have a look at a few other examples. So we’re just going to touch on and we’ve just quickly put these together. Just some examples of how these things might work. So this client on boarding contract renewals leave requests, stationary orders and not knowledge articles. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to jump to my other screen. So that we can have a bit of a look here at some of these processes. So the first one we’re going to start with this new client on boarding, so we actually have this setup for we use it internally, so I’ve just kind of replicated across into this environment for new client on boarding. So we have. Here is a link that will take you to a form, did reform the same as you would have seen for the registration for the event. And will fill in some information here, so the business name can be. Props widgets. 8990 and number. The address. Bear with me while I go through this process. My full name. There would be no test tenant here at the moment, so. This is not my actual email address, but it will allow us to receive emails. And the billing email address. So that’s the type of information we might want to capture in a new client on boarding. And then we’ll go through that. So what’s happening in the background? So we’ve collected that information and what it’s going to do is it’s going to create a record in our system, so that might be in your practice management system that might be annual CRM that might be just in a. I register of contact information, so we’ve created on here in an application called SharePoint that is just a list with our customer register so we can see in here robs widgets. We’ve just captured that information so because that’s raw data we can use that. If we go back across to our tenant here, what I’m going to do is I’m going to bring up my emails and my screen’s gone a bit dark here, so I’m just going to open outlook. And it’s actually generated and sent a couple of emails, so we’ve automated this process so one might go back to the sales team or to the Fiona who brought that client on board. So we just have to complete their onboarding form. Accounts are being notified cool, so we’ve also automated the accounts team a new account creation task has been crowded, so we’ve created a task from this as well. Please complete that ASAP. And we’ve also sent a customer notification. So hi Rob, thanks for completing onboarding. Central Central you can book in for your on boarding session via this link. So if we open that link in a new tab, this is Microsoft booking, so we do a lot of this stuff as well. For a free digital workflow consultancy that’s very very giving. We can see here that I’m not available, but we may be able to pick one of our other resources and we can book in that time. So that’s the customer experience that they’re going to go through, which is nice. So one of the other things that happened as we saw that there was a task had been created, so. If we go to tasks we’re in the browser at the minute, but if you use full outlook as in the desktop application, it will just come up in your task list. So we can see here is we have a couple of tasks so we can see set up billing for robs widgets and if we jump into that we can see that the relevant information has been sent through two accounts to provision that account. So these are this is just an example of something basic that we can go through to send information to the right people to set up tasks that need to be done so nothing gets forgotten and there’s also some reporting. This is all driven from power automate. There’s also some reporting that control where things are up to what stages things made it to. Add to give us that visibility over those business processes as well. I’m going back to home here so we can look at another example. Moby contract expiring was was quite a good one, so we can see in here in our contracts register I just created a couple of different contracts just the party so the party is what it’s regarding consulting services. We also have a contract expiry date. What I’m going to do is I’m just going to update the contract expiry date so I’ve actually configured a workflow that says 3 days from contract expiry send me a notification that it’s expiring so. Something relatively bising but quite helpful so that we don’t miss anything along the way. Now I’ve updated both of those. I’m just going to jump back into our automated, so we’re going to have to kick this process off manually. Yeah, I can show you why that is the case. So we have contract expiry are coming. But if we have a look at it there, there is a recurrence trigger at the moment it just is set to run at 3:00 o’clock everyday. I’m not going to leave you here until 3:00 o’clock, So what we’ll do is we’ll jump back in to the other screen. And will actually run that, so won’t wait until three will run that now. And what should happen is I should receive a notification that shows Me 2 contracts at three days out from expiring. Close some of my other tabs. I’ve got things open everywhere here. I’ll jump back into. Outlook. And what I can see here. So at 3:00 o’clock today, if I’d let that run on its own, it would have sent me a notification, saying, hey, Rob, you have us be reminded three days before contract expiry date, so I can send us notifications about things expiring for example, and we obviously have a link here directly through to that contract so that we can see it so super super simple. Something else that. Love is the labor quest, so the process for submitting leave requests and having them come through in a calendar. So we’ve automated this entire process as well so we can see here that we have upcoming leave requests. This is again in SharePoint, so we use a sort of our aggregation for data in Office 365, but we can fill out a leave request form and what’s going to happen in the background, so I’m going to say that it’s me on some annual leave. But it’s starting from. Let’s say next Monday the 3rd annual run through 2. Friday the 7th. I’m going to approve my own leave ‘cause I’m cool like that. And that’s done. So what’s going to happen in the background is a request will be sent through. So when approval requests say hey, Rob’s requested leave, someone will need to approve that. So in the background, that will actually come through onto the leave requests register. So we have the Labor Quest Register here so we can say that that’s come through there and keeps the dice, so there may be possibility to push that over to a payroll system if you needed to do that with some integration. Going back to a integrated solutions are better. That’s why, so we may be able to push that across there. But what we can see here is Rob annual leave so we can see that hey, Rob’s major requests, that link will just take us through to that record that we saw there before. But we might want to see who else is on leave. So we can actually jump across to our group calendar if I go to the right spot here. And it’s going to load who’s on leave so I can see that there’s somebody on leave there at the moment. Let’s jump across the next month. For this week, and it looks like I’m already on annual leave, but I’m going to ignore that and I’m going to approve my leave anyway, so that will double up in there. So having that group leave calendar being able to check that having a register of historical leave requests that have come through into the system. We can do that from there. This can also be delivered through via teams as well. So if you’re a Microsoft Teams user, all of these requests can be delivered through teams for approvals. So I’m just going to say that submit it off and it can go on its way. What’s going to happen in the background? It’s going to essentially send me a meeting request because we’re using bookings before which you saw my online calendar system. I need to block out that time so people can’t book me so it automatically sends me that. It is also updated the Leave calendar which we were looking at just before that already had my time in there. But if we go back to the home page here, we will also see that in upcoming Leave requests drop that in there as well. So we’ve just automated this to essentially populate that data across the places that are going to be relevant. For people within our team to be able to see. So we’re running a little bit short on time here, so we’ll go through very very quickly and have a look at a station reorder. Again, it’s going to be a similar process. What do we want? Give me a description of quantity and a cost center that it needs to be charged to. A request will go off. I’m going to improve myself in this instance, but we’re concerned that off that will then go to a purchasing register, which we have set up in here for station reorders. That will come through to a list. So for the accounts team or the current team once it’s been approved, it will appear on this list and whether it’s been fulfilled or not and say there was 20 items in there. OK, we submitted order off to our stationary provider and we go. Yeah, that’s that’s all good. We’re filled. Yes, that’s all been fulfilled, and that’s done an out of the way. So we can start keeping a register of all of these things and give the ability for our personnel on the ground. So essentially be able to request approve. I’m track all of these things as they go through another one that is, I know is a big deal for legal practices around blog articles and what you need to do there so you can see here. We’ve created a blog articles register. It has some statuses, their draft for review, who it’s assigned to. And what the due date is? You can see it’s coming up as required info, but we might be able to build a little flow that just says OK, well if that’s been assigned to somebody and has a due date, so it’s been assigned to me. We have a due date. We might be able to automate the process. Here. Right click on the right the right thing. So we can say send a planner and assign. So Planner is another free application or included application and Office 365 subscription. So again, I’ve got too many things running. Hosting an event a little bit slower than normal, but I’ll just run that flow and all that’s done is drop that into planner as a task so we can see here. That’s right that through blog that needs to be written and in the background, it will automatically send notifications and all those bits and pieces too. So these are some again just some of the types of things that we would be able to build. Using digital workflow that might assist around your practice. OK so to see the results simple, more work closed water make it greater. The results just define them, deliver them and then get the results is obviously a process of refinement. Lee you can go through as things change. We understand that the process itself might not be malleable, but the work. Lots of how it gets delivered can obviously change as time progresses and the things that need to be done so you can also jump back in and edit and update those things to improve it where you see an opportunity to do so. So that brings us to the end of our presentation today. I hope that it was informative and we’re able to give you some ideas for things that you might be able to do within your practice. I can’t see any knew questions popped up that we wanted to publish through, so I will assume that we’re all good and we’re all going to deliver our own workflows in our practices, but a little more seriously, if you do have questions about it, I’m sure that everybody who’s attended today you’ll have my email address I sent you. Meeting request feel free to drop me an email, give me a call. Happy to have a chat to you about it and I look forward to seeing you at our next webinar.