Workflow management system doubles solicitors' productivity

A Scottish law firm has doubled its work output thanks to a Web-enabled workflow management system developed in-house.

A Scottish law firm has doubled its work output thanks to a Web-enabled workflow management system developed in-house.

Caroline Davis

Following the introduction of the Benchmark system, falling IT support costs and increased end-user productivity has inspired solicitors Shepherd & Wedderburn to sell it to other legal firms.

Lawyers can deploy and track complex legal procedures online in real time and update areas of work in the system themselves. Clients can also use the system to remotely follow their cases.

The firm has seen a 50% increase in operational efficiency since Benchmark's introduction 18 months ago.

Shepherd & Wedderburn's IT director Angus Mackenzie said there has been a drop in the amount of IT support required, freeing IT staff to work on a backlog of projects and eliminating the need to employ contractors. In addition, users are now producing twice as much work as before.

"The system runs itself," he said. "Lawyers make modifications themselves so there are no change request forms or queuing. For them, it is as simple as adding a paragraph to a document. It is also useful as a form of knowledge capture."

Mackenzie said that converting users to the new system was the greatest challenge the firm faced. "However, we got a senior person behind the project, allowing him to sit in on technical meetings. This gave him part ownership of the project, meaning that he could drive it forward," he said.

Shepherd & Wedderburn designed Benchmark itself, with the help of Microsoft systems specialist Info-graphics.

Benchmark is based on the Microsoft suite of development tools, running on NT 4, with an SQL Server database at its core. Users access the system through a Visual Basic front-end if they are on site. Citrix software and a browser window are used to provide remote access.

Infographics was so impressed by the system that it is has now sold it, with Shepherd & Wedderburn's approval, to other legal firms.

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