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Switching to a more modern solution Is it worth it?

About Charles Drayson

Charles is a UK lawyer who has used document automation for 20 years. He has worked for large law firms, corporate legal teams, and has automated legal and non-legal documents. He writes for Legito to share his passion for using automation to get work done. “I get a kick out of creating good content and seeing it used repeatedly and reliably by colleagues without fuss and bother”.

Switching to a more modern solution Is it worth it?

About Charles Drayson

Charles is a UK lawyer who has used document automation for 20 years. He has worked for large law firms, corporate legal teams, and has automated legal and non-legal documents. He writes for Legito to share his passion for using automation to get work done. “I get a kick out of creating good content and seeing it used repeatedly and reliably by colleagues without fuss and bother”.

Charles Drayson

May 24 · 5 min read

Charles Drayson

May 24 · 5 min read

Capital expenditure on software sold with a perpetual licence discouraged switching. Now, vendors sell more software on a subscription basis. The subscription model works for software vendors if most customers continue to use the software for a long time. Vendors have an incentive to reduce churn with regular updates and new features. That trend favours software deployed as software-as-a-service from a cloud-based platform. This should be good for customers: no capital expenditure (on software or hardware), regular upgrades, and less risk.

If your current solution disappoints, it should be easier to switch. Of course, it’s not quite that simple.
How do you rationalise changing to another system?

…SaaS solutions sold with subscriptions ought to be good news for organisations that want something better…

…SaaS solutions sold with subscriptions ought to be good news for organisations that want something better…

Document automation solutions have been around for years, but the market wasn’t big enough to support multiple vendors. Document automation was then limited to document assembly (generating tailored documents from templates driven by variable data provided in the form of an ‘interview’). The product was aimed at lawyers, and it’s fair to say they made productive use of document assembly, and still do. Vendors issue updates occasionally. Most updates merely extended document assembly to harness more tricky features like automating tables and keeping up with changes in Microsoft’s features and file formats.

Document assembly has evolved to be more competent and comprehensive. I’ve been using document assembly solutions for about 20 years, and it’s now rare to find a requirement that cannot be templated and automated somehow. More recently, the trend is towards improving the user experience rather than adding significant capability. If your only requirement is document assembly, it’s not difficult to find solutions that will do the job. If your organisation has already deployed a document assembly solution, there’s no reason to suppose it won’t continue to do the job.

But, why stop at document assembly?

…Document assembly is great, but more organisations are now tempted to switch solutions because they need to do more than automatically generate documents. And, most of them are not law firms… 

…Document assembly is great, but more organisations are now tempted to switch solutions because they need to do more than automatically generate documents. And, most of them are not law firms… 

While documents remain at the heart of many business processes, we want to automate more processes, and automate more of each process. Most humans (yes, I include lawyers in that grouping) don’t enjoy processing documents. Our organisations hand us a mandatory process, and we have to contort, negotiate and manage our way through it. Every time something changes, we have to get approvals. When we get busy, it’s hard to keep track of things using email. No wonder there’s a backlash against documents, especially long documents. They don’t fit neatly into a world that insists we get more done in less time.

It’s easy to visit a business team and find supporters who would like to ease their business processes. They know their existing methods are imperfect. Most of them could tell you what needs to be done to improve them. You can get all this feedback very easily…if you’re a colleague having a chat over a coffee at lunchtime, or if you’re a spouse who has to listen to all the things that are rubbish at the office (even the home office). They are much less likely to be forthcoming to a software sales exec! Be honest: 

Most people are sceptics when they see a technology solution that promises to make things better. But, if you haven’t looked at a modern solution, that scepticism could be misplaced. 

Most people are sceptics when they see a technology solution that promises to make things better. But, if you haven’t looked at a modern solution, that scepticism could be misplaced. 

Let’s look at the business case for switching to a modern document automation and document lifecycle management solution, assuming you already use an older document automation solution. 

Start your free trial

Some vendors, including Legito, will happily set you up with a free trial. Usually, it’s limited to one month, but ask Legito to extend the trial period if you need more time. If you are already using an older solution, it should be easy to pick a document to try on the new system. If you’re looking at Legito, we can usually connect you to a consultant who can help you migrate an existing template so you can see it working in your trial. This is your chance to check out two issues: how easy is it to move existing documents to the new solution, and how is the experience of using them?

Migrate existing documents

Switching from an older solution is usually quicker than starting from scratch. You have already identified the documents worth automating, and you already know how the documents work. Many of us at Legito have used older systems from other vendors, and we have helped other organisations make the switch. If you need help migrating existing documents, we can guide you on what’s involved. 

All it takes is one tool

When you switch, the first thing you’ll notice is that a solution like Legito can span your whole business process with one tool. It’s probably one of the reasons why you are thinking about the move. You don’t have to use every feature from day #1. Start with the improvements that your users will notice most. It’s easy to do more over time gradually. Aim for the smallest initial project that delivers value. Avoiding a big implementation project is an excellent way to win hearts and minds.

The ability to customise is key

Legito is easily customised – build a business case that isn’t limited to one team or process. Organisations typically deployed legacy document automation systems to provide a specific solution for a specific team. We find that organisations are switching from legacy solutions because they want to use one tool across the whole enterprise – they don’t want the overhead of managing user communities using different tools. Still, every team wants a solution that is designed for them. The HR team wants an employee-centric view of the world (offer letters, employment contracts, reference requests, joiner and leaver processes). The real estate team wants a property-centric view (lease documents, renewal reminders, facilities contracts).

Customising isn’t just about changing the look of the application (although that is nice) – it’s also about building a model of your data that matches the business needs. This ability reduces the total cost of ownership while at the same time increasing user satisfaction. If you are thinking of changing, the ability to customise (and get access to a wider range of tools within one solution) is key to ensuring you won’t outgrow the next solution.

Reduce technical debt

Switching to a no-code solution reduces technical debt. ‘Technical debt’ is a way to describe the difficulty of moving from an old code-based system to something new. It’s a concept representing the effort, cost and risk of having to re-code a solution. Some document automation solutions use scripts to deal with more complex documents, so that organisations need ‘template developers’ to create and manage them. Some users of such systems have been reluctant to walk away from a portfolio of templates that includes so much of that script. If technical debt holds you back, your applications will become increasingly harder to maintain, and users will become disillusioned. It makes sense to switch to a no-code solution.

Moreover, some of the vendors of older solutions are relying on the difficulty of moving away from their complex solutions to justify subscriptions that offer poor value for money. “They won’t move because it will be too hard for them to switch.” Is that a good reason to deprive your organisation of the benefits of a more capable solution? No, and it’s based on flawed assumptions and prejudice about the difficulty of switching.

Start your free trial

Some vendors, including Legito, will happily set you up with a free trial. Usually, it’s limited to one month, but ask Legito to extend the trial period if you need more time. If you are already using an older solution, it should be easy to pick a document to try on the new system. If you’re looking at Legito, we can usually connect you to a consultant who can help you migrate an existing template so you can see it working in your trial. This is your chance to check out two issues: how easy is it to move existing documents to the new solution, and how is the experience of using them?

Migrate existing documents

Switching from an older solution is usually quicker than starting from scratch. You have already identified the documents worth automating, and you already know how the documents work. Many of us at Legito have used older systems from other vendors, and we have helped other organisations make the switch. If you need help migrating existing documents, we can guide you on what’s involved. 

All it takes is one tool

When you switch, the first thing you’ll notice is that a solution like Legito can span your whole business process with one tool. It’s probably one of the reasons why you are thinking about the move. You don’t have to use every feature from day #1. Start with the improvements that your users will notice most. It’s easy to do more over time gradually. Aim for the smallest initial project that delivers value. Avoiding a big implementation project is an excellent way to win hearts and minds.

The ability to customise is key

Legito is easily customised – build a business case that isn’t limited to one team or process. Organisations typically deployed legacy document automation systems to provide a specific solution for a specific team. We find that organisations are switching from legacy solutions because they want to use one tool across the whole enterprise – they don’t want the overhead of managing user communities using different tools. Still, every team wants a solution that is designed for them. The HR team wants an employee-centric view of the world (offer letters, employment contracts, reference requests, joiner and leaver processes). The real estate team wants a property-centric view (lease documents, renewal reminders, facilities contracts).

Customising isn’t just about changing the look of the application (although that is nice) – it’s also about building a model of your data that matches the business needs. This ability reduces the total cost of ownership while at the same time increasing user satisfaction. If you are thinking of changing, the ability to customise (and get access to a wider range of tools within one solution) is key to ensuring you won’t outgrow the next solution.

Reduce technical debt

Switching to a no-code solution reduces technical debt. ‘Technical debt’ is a way to describe the difficulty of moving from an old code-based system to something new. It’s a concept representing the effort, cost and risk of having to re-code a solution. Some document automation solutions use scripts to deal with more complex documents, so that organisations need ‘template developers’ to create and manage them. Some users of such systems have been reluctant to walk away from a portfolio of templates that includes so much of that script. If technical debt holds you back, your applications will become increasingly harder to maintain, and users will become disillusioned. It makes sense to switch to a no-code solution.

Moreover, some of the vendors of older solutions are relying on the difficulty of moving away from their complex solutions to justify subscriptions that offer poor value for money. “They won’t move because it will be too hard for them to switch.” Is that a good reason to deprive your organisation of the benefits of a more capable solution? No, and it’s based on flawed assumptions and prejudice about the difficulty of switching.

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