7 Tips for Implementing Workflow Automation at Your Firm
With law office automation and technology, you’re not taking away the human element of your practice. Instead, you’re spending less time on menial, time-intensive tasks and more time in areas that require your personal expertise and finesse.
Patent lawyers are currently waist-deep in an influx of office actions, and one of the easiest ways to off-load these repetitive administrative tasks is by implementing workflow automation. Implementing automation can both simplify your workday and increase profit margins for your firm.
As a service-based industry, legal revenue is still defined mainly by billable hours, and, unfortunately, non-billable hours are a fact of life for any law firm. Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report cites utilization as a key business metric for law firms. Utilization rate measures the average time a lawyer puts toward billable work on a given day. According to their 2019 report, the national average that year was 31%. That means that for a standard 8-hour workday, the typical lawyer can only bill 2.5 hours.
Investing in automation can help your team streamline repeatable business tasks, minimize errors, and increase your profit margins. In short, it dramatically improves your business. Patent managers make quicker, smarter decisions, and support staff is empowered to collaborate in a more productive and agile way.
Here are some strategies to ensure success with workflow automation.
1. Start by making a list of your least favorite tasks
To begin, jot down the repetitive tasks you don’t like to do and consider if they are good candidates for automation. Questions to consider:
- Does it take a lot of time to do?
- Is it repetitive or tedious?
- Is it a necessary task but non-billable?
- Is it time-sensitive?
Once you’ve prioritized which processes to automate, conduct research to find the best solution that fits your needs based on your implementation timeline and budget.
2. When exploring workflow automation tools, look for those that don’t wholly reshape your current process
Some tools require new interfaces, new logins, complicated (and constant) training, or significant workflow changes. Focus on simplicity and look for tools that integrate with your current process. This will help combat change fatigue.
3. Take advantage of your trial period
Trials are the best way to gauge process change and return on investment. And the secret to a successful trial is active participation. To get the most out of your trial, make sure to:
- Schedule the trial at a time that is advantageous to your team. Ensure that you have the capacity to carefully review and fully make use of the product.
- Get the right people involved. The most successful trials are those that result in an easy transition to a full-service subscription. To assist, bring in the most active and influential team members to participate. This allows you to start creating some internal champions for the product, and they will go on to persuade the rest of the team.
- Lean on your sales rep - that's what they're here for. If you have a concern, challenge, or unfulfilled need, they want to hear about it. (After all, they also want to ensure your trial is successful! You may be surprised at how flexible or accommodating the trial can be, if you ask.)
4. Define what success will look like in your trial run
It’s important to establish benchmarks, goals, and expectations with your vendor on the amount of money and time saved, the number of applications completed, and so on. Comparing vendor-set expectations with end-of-trial realities is the most valuable indicator of product success.
After your trial, consider:
- Do you have more capacity than you did before the trial began?
- With these tasks taken care of, can support staff work on more expensive projects?
- How does the cost of automation compare to the cost of hiring another full-time, salaried worker?
5. It’s okay to start small and grow
Focusing first on implementing the technology for specific attorneys or practice groups. As more members of the team understand the value of workflow automation, they can voice their support to colleagues.
6. Take advantage of valuable integrations that ensure a higher level of success
For example, Juristat’s workflow automation solutions rely on private PAIR integration for a seamless experience. This allows our AI to automatically detect office actions the moment they occur, removing any need for human input and the possibility of human error.
7. Never be complacent with your technology
Although part of the advantages of implementing automation is that you can “set-it-and-forget-it”, there will always be an advantage to evaluating your processes over time. Automation tools typically provide plenty of opportunities for customization, and each vendor will offer its own unique features.
Also, regularly asking for feedback from staff and clients will help you uncover valuable opportunities for improvement—and further savings on overhead.
Workflow automation presents limitless opportunities in simplifying key law firm processes. Your firm can automate a number of administrative tasks, including, of course, office action preparation and IDS filing. Optimize these areas through automation to spend less time doing non-billable tasks and more time creating revenue for your firm.
Juristat’s workflow automation solutions take care of the most tedious tasks associated with patent prosecution – all without you or your staff lifting a finger. To see how our workflow automation can transform your office action response and IDS strategies, sign up for a demo today.