The importance of making the right decision when replacing a law firm's IT systems should not be underestimated, especially as cost efficiency and profitability are the main focus of its operations. However, extensive IT transformation is also of paramount importance to public sector legal departments where strict regulations are only part of the story. Local government organisations such as Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Councils are held accountable to the taxpayer for every single penny of their spend and are therefore even more concerned with quantifying and proving a strong return on any investment.
“There are many technicalities when dealing with local authorities and we needed to ensure we got every step right. We had to ensure that we were hosting with the security remit of a government department which also matched our ISO 27001 accreditation. I’m pleased to say we embraced the challenges with gusto and met them head on.” said Scott Ridley, Technical Director at DPS
As a result of ageing IT systems that were increasingly becoming unfit for purpose, Bi-Borough began scoping out the marketplace, hunting for software that would enable them to adopt agile working in the cloud while giving them the highest level of security and technological support. After looking at many different options, they chose the OutlookOffice solution from DPS Software hosted in the MS Azure cloud.
This gave them a modern hosted CMS with an integrated accounts system, enabling Bi-Borough to satisfy the solicitors accounts rules if they later decided to form an ABS. With the CMS sitting entirely within Outlook, the legal department needed very little downtime to learn about the new case management functions as most of their 100 staff were already familiar with Outlook's calendar and email systems. Employees immediately gained the ability to look up accounts and ledger cards seamlessly within their Outlook sessions.
However, where private practices have a large number of clients receiving very few bills per month, local authority legal departments often have a small number of clients receiving a large number of bills. This results in a large allocation of precious employee time being spent on laborious administration. In order to find a solution, DPS worked with Bi-Borough to create a customised accounting system that was tailored to the individual requirements of the councils. The subsequent automation of the billing process meant that three- or four-days’ work could be carried out in less than an hour, achieving an unrivalled efficiency that now allows employees to spend their time on more important matters.
The amendments to DPS accounts software ‘Financial Director’ to suit this very specialist need were all to the specifications provided by the RBKC business process manager. Their primary requirement was to cut out unnecessary repetitive work and to be able to report on everything. The level of governance needed in the public sector is always underestimated where not only must best value be ‘got’ but be seen to be ‘got’. This is why the tracking and ability to report on any data in the system was so critical for the department heads.
The team at Bi-Borough which oversaw the project commented that, "Our partnership with DPS is helping us to create the tools we need to deliver our digital agenda and support our agile working staff.”
‘over 3000 templates were created for the areas dealt with’
Some of the tools needed to address areas of the business that had not been previously addressed. These other areas of the business needed also automation to create streamlined processes which meant over 3,000 templates were created for the 13 areas dealt with by the legal department in order to develop workflows that have now been fully deployed to maximum effect. These all connect fully to the accounts giving one fluid streamline system that handles work from start to billing to collection.
“our clients are more than clients, they are our partners"
Osman Ismail, Managing Director at DPS said, “We are so proud of achieving this type of collaboration with a local authority as it represents an investment in our public sector department and our client’s efficiency. We did not enter this market to simply become a supplier we want to make a lasting impact by providing innovative, bespoke services and partnering with legal departments. In summary our clients are more than clients, they are our partners’