We’re talking to Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions employees who work directly with customers during each phase of the Customer Value Lifecycle. Here, Jeff Solomon, Senior Director of Product Management for Legal Analytics, talks about a key component of the Enhance phase: managed services.
Why are managed services an important part of maintaining value over time?
Managed services are a great way for customers to optimize their legal department operations without adding staff. Our experts can augment the customer’s team by executing key tasks according to the client’s needs and preferences, allowing their law department team members to stay focused on their core responsibilities, which is a key component of efficiency.
Our LegalVIEW® BillAnalyzer managed service is a perfect example. Our highly experienced legal invoice analysts take on the bulk of a client’s invoice review so that the customer’s attorneys don’t have to spend their valuable time scrutinizing every invoice line item. We work with each client to tailor the program to include their staff at whatever level they’d like, allowing client attorneys to go back to the jobs they signed up for: keeping their eye on the big picture and practicing law.
Using LegalVIEW BillAnalyzer as an example, how do the members of the managed service team act as an extension of the customer’s staff?
Every law department has a different set of needs and goals that managed services can address. With BillAnalyzer, we tailor the engagement based on the individual client’s preferences about bill review. Some may be looking for stricter compliance with billing guidelines in certain practice areas, for example. Some want their internal staff to provide final approval. Whatever the preferences of the individual customer, they determine how our team reviews their invoices.
Law firm relationships are an important area for every legal department. Some even have a few law firms who get special treatment. We can accommodate these types of requests because managed services are not a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s an ongoing dialogue about what the client’s goals are, so we can manage those relationships according to their preferences and priorities as they change over time. We have a dedicated team of people working on each client’s behalf. So they develop relationships over time just as the legal department would. They talk to the same firms over and over again, they know the billing guidelines cold, and they are able to have collegial conversations with firms, reinforcing the customer’s good working relationship.
How do you evaluate the success of a managed service offering?
We stay in constant communication with customers to make sure we are supporting their goals, but when clients continue to engage our managed services, that’s the clearest sign we have that they are happy with the results. We’ve seen phenomenal growth with BillAnalyzer. In one year, we went from $350 million to more than $1.5 billion in invoices under annual review through the program. This is reflective of the need for the service and the customer confidence in our teams. We have exponential growth in the number of bill analysts we started with and recently moved into additional office space. In addition, our first BillAnalyzer customers have become champions for the program, working with us to describe the benefits to other clients considering BillAnalyzer. That’s been a great experience all around.
What have been the major customer benefits of BillAnalyzer?
When we rolled out the program, the immediate win was the initial savings of 7-15% in top-line legal spend on average. The second area is manpower. Customers have attorneys, claim handlers and other legal operations professionals who are tasked with routine billing guideline enforcement, and that’s just not the best use of their time – and they generally aren’t devoting the attention to it that it deserves. They have higher-value tasks they can focus on now that the BillAnalyzer team has taken over invoice review. The third area is billing guideline compliance. As the firms start getting used to being held accountable for their agreed-to guidelines, we’ve seen 20% improvement in compliance within a 12-16 month period after the start of the program. That increased compliance gives the legal department spend data that is more accurate and reliable and supports them in looking at more advanced spend management practices, such as AFA programs and evaluating their firms against each other in an apples to apples comparison. They can start using the insights from associated dashboards and metrics to start making more data-driven decisions.
All of these benefits are rooted in the Artificial Intelligence technology at the heart of BillAnalyzer. The AI assists the analyst teams by providing information about the likelihood of compliance issues on each line item. The initial coding of that AI model gives it a high degree of accuracy, but it gets even smarter when it learns from the reviewers, who are making adjustments, and from the firms, who are responding with appeals. That’s the value of AI – the machine learning algorithms evolve to improve the pinpoint accuracy of its adjustment recommendations.
Based on a number of customer consulting engagements around law department efficiency, we knew even before we introduced BillAnalyzer that there was an opportunity to capture additional savings because many firms were not complying well with billing guidelines. It’s been gratifying to work with clients to not only achieve those savings but also improve legal department operations.