Archive: November, 2009
Einstein once said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. And so it is with document automation. Everyone wants to make it as simple as possible. But anyone who tells you that it is simple (presumably by consuming whatever snake oil they are selling) is lying. Some document composition tasks are, by their very nature, highly complex, and some will make your head hurt. The challenge is to find the simplest and most effective way of dealing with them, so that you can fully reap the rewards of automation. Which begs two obvious question: what do we mean by complexity and does it affect your documents?
Yes, you do need to worry about complexity…
For present purposes, let’s break complexity into three buckets: low complexity; medium complexity; and high complexity.
If all you ever need to do is some kind of mail merge or field substitution, where you feed in some names, addresses, products or prices, then you are dealing with low complexity automation. This is the home turf of “customer communications management”, which, for the most part, means mass-mailing thousands of letters to thousands of customers, and making sure it says “Dear Bob” or “Dear Betty” at the top (this personal touch making Bob and Betty feel all warm and fuzzy). The documents might have some picky layout or branding, but the content is largely standardized and the variations are limited and controlled.
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, has a new book called Behind the Cloud- the untold story of how salesforce.com went from idea to billion-dollar company and revolutionized an industry. If you are interested in how to grow a business, CRM, or SaaS, the book is worth reading. If you read carefully you’ll see how Marc talks about the exact problem that document assembly can help solve.
As a lawyer, have you ever wondered how your clients would describe you? Would they say you’re client-focused? Commercial? Concise? Cost-effective?
If not, you might be interested in Australian Business Lawyers. Lawyers Weekly has an article on how the Sydney-based firm has built a successful workplace law practice over the past 10 years by making life simple for its clients. So, how has ABL done it?
IACCM research “has found that in many organizations, bid and contract support can account for more than 40% of the legal budget.”
Accordingly, recent comments made by Colleen Gallagher of Huron Consulting should come as no surprise. At an IACCM meeting, Gallagher explained that current pressure on legal departments to increase efficiency has made contract management ‘top of mind’ for many in-house lawyers. She then outlined eight issues on the agendas of law departments that analyze their contracting processes. IACCM President, Tim Cummins has posted a summary of Gallagher’s talk which is definitely worth reading.
Poor understanding of contracting costs
In this month’s Global Broker and Underwriter Magazine, Lloyd’s CEO Richard Ward, talks about the market’s need to “get it’s act together” to provide better service to its clients, or risk them going elsewhere. He emphasises the need for the market to embrace the Lloyd’s Exchange initiative and says that, “To some respects the market is like a Groundhog Day as nothing has materially changed.”
The challenge of the Exchange is to get more information flowing between broker and underwriter. This initiative is at the exact same point where others have failed and we have heard the same rallying cry from previous advocates of change. But how can you break through to the next level and actually get meaningful volumes of information being transmitted between trading partners?