The topic of integration has become commonplace within organisations and their functions. Most of us have interacted with systems that are pushing or pulling data or tasks to and from one another, which significantly reduces the human exchange and friction in our business processes: imagine for example if MS Outlook could not book a meeting with external parties.
Opportunities to create complete end-to-end integrated workflow solutions
Extend this thought: Consider the interactions you have throughout a given day outside of your department – with firms, business clients, outside parties, vendors – which involve the trading of tasks and data. Email is still the go-to port of call for this type of interaction, but it does not need to be. Integration can and should reach beyond your department to these interactions to further increase efficiency and quality of data and outputs. Some steps have been taken in this direction with the likes of portals and data rooms, but these are often ‘static’: online bookshelves that rely on users coming to the technology to complete tasks. There is incredible opportunity to create complete end-to-end integrated workflow solutions.
For example, imagine there was an incident that triggered reporting obligations to an insurance carrier. Instead of gathering information from internal systems to email over to the insurance broker, the internal system would automatically push relevant data to the claims reporting system on the broker side and set off the appropriate chain of events, perhaps present the initial incident information to someone to assess and assign a task to follow up.
A more complex workflow may involve multiple stakeholders
A more complex workflow may involve multiple stakeholders, perhaps an outside law firm, several internal business units, and another organization. It may also include pulling information from a public or central database, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The technology to build such end-to-end workflow and automation exists today and is starting to be incorporated into services by multi-skilled legal, technology, and consulting teams such as Eversheds Konexo.
With integration across all these pieces, these disparate parts can be knitted together to vastly reduce transactional friction in our processes, removing the distinction between ‘legal’, ‘operations’, ‘sales’ or ‘HR’: once everything is integrated, it is simply a ‘business’ process. Data and reporting on the transactions between companies, functions, people, and systems can be tracked and stored in a centralised location. This lays the groundwork for better machine intelligence and analytics across the entire workflow, which will allow us to ‘manage’ and improve it over time.
So how do you start to think bigger?
Consider your daily interactions with those around you. Map out the environment. As information and tasks pass between one person to the next in a manual way – an email, a call, or a PDF form, consider whether you are communicating something which can be written up in bullet points. If the answer is yes that is usually an opportunity for integration and automation.