Stevens & Bolton
One of Stevens & Bolton’s four published values is ‘commitment to quality’, which it says includes the embrace of progressive innovation and to “continuously seek improvements” across the entire business. On his arrival, partner Ian Craig was quick to embody this ethos – he well knew that clients would benefit from a very specific piece of new technology.
The challenge: More efficient, sustainable and secure document and project management
Craig explains: “I’d used HighQ at my previous organisation, and I found it so user-friendly that I decided to pitch it to others in the real estate team as potentially much more beneficial for clients than other document-sharing options. Many of our largest clients have multiple sites of business nationwide, and this seemed a really good way of streamlining our service delivery, and hopefully encouraging them to stick with us in the process.”
Project manager Ali Bown adds: “HighQ has made the business of project management much more flexible for everybody, as the system allows you to manage separate streams of a project, or different projects, in several parts of an organisation simultaneously – and with the transparency of all sides easily able to see what needs to happen next on a deal at any time.
“At the same time, we have an internal drive to use less paper wherever that’s possible – to be more environmentally-friendly, as well as reducing the cost of both delivering and storing hard-copy documents.”
One further, related driver is effective risk management and regulatory compliance. Craig continues: “It was recognised that at the same time as delivering superior client service, we could ensure compliance with requirements such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation within a stricter data protection environment more broadly.”
The solution: HighQ for document-sharing, a path for multiple practises
Craig and Bown say they’ve spent some time collaborating on this implementation as a project, which they anticipate will comprise several phases, increasing both usage and use cases in a measured and quantifiable way.
“The first destination is very much establishing it as a document-sharing platform,” says Craig. “However, our hope and expectation is that in time it will be used widely across most of our practise areas.” Of these there are many – banking and finance, employment, corporate and commercial, to name a few where the value could be spread. Craig anticipates the advantages for client collaboration and project management may be even more apparent when it comes to the document workload of colleagues in the corporate practise.
The pair report that one significant aspect of the return on their investment lies in how quickly a new HighQ client site can be up and running – which is good news indeed, as the firm is producing plenty of them. “It’s an extremely efficient process, which has been great as we’ve also done quite a bit of work around cost and pricing,” explains Bown. The firm has even hired several paralegals specifically to build HighQ sites, a task they can complete in a matter of hours, says Craig. One of these paralegals has been demonstrating their work to several of the corporate and employment partners as part of the push to win over other parts of business to the cause.
He continues: “It’s so simple to set up and enable the access for everyone that needs it, and I also like that you can brand the sites as an extension of the client’s business, as well as the seamless integration with our document management system.”
Bown adds that training needed for any new users is an attractively straightforward business as well, and HighQ has proactively helped teams to make the most of what’s possible within the system by sharing examples.
The result: Higher quality client experience is the clearest indicator of value
Measuring the efficiency of the greater capacity for information-sharing and collaboration in terms of the time saved on tasks overall is still a work in progress. However, Craig estimates that up to 10 weeks of secretarial time could be saved in the next year alone. And Bown anticipates additional business gains materialising from the recent acquisition of HighQ by Thomson Reuters – such as through the application of artificial intelligence and document assembly into document flows – as well as following planned future investment in legal project management expertise at Stevens & Bolton.
But at this phase of the implementation, the clearest indicator of value could simply lie in the quality of the client experience itself. “We have one large client that was so attracted by the system, it has somewhat reinvigorated our relationship with them after we took it to them. It changed the conversation, and there’s benefit in that alone,” says Craig.
“That’s our existing clients, but we’re in growth mode now and even seeing new clients inquiring about HighQ.” So, as well as having better conversations by pitching the potential of document collaboration, the firm may be avoiding the occasional difficult one as well.