Best Practices for Your Legal Documents and Data
Is your legal department being asked to do more with less? Do you face challenges staying on top of litigation, contracts, and other legal projects? Are you missing key due dates? Looking for technology that provides centralization, collaboration, oversight, and security? CSC can help. Listen to this recorded webinar discussing best practices and demonstrating our CSC Matter Management platform.
In this presentation, we’ll cover:
- Matter management and technology options
- Contract renewals, searching, and reports
- Litigation routing, response dates, and collaboration
- Document retention and data capture essentials
- The right data security questions to ask of a vendor
Our solution was ranked #1 in matter management by readers of the New York Law Journal for three consecutive years, and helps you streamline your compliance and cut risk through a combination of collaboration, document management, and alerting capabilities.
Disclaimer: Please be advised that this recorded webinar has been edited from its original format, which may have included a product demo. To set up a live demo or to request more information, please complete the form to the right. Or if you are currently not on CSC Global, there's a link to the website in the description of this video. Thank you.
James: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, "Matter Management: Best Practices for Your Legal Documents and Data." My name is James Wier, and I will be your moderator.
Joining us today are John Bloxom and Andrea Jonaitis. John is a Director of Product Management at CSC. He collaborates with customers, prospects, and business stakeholders to shape CSC's product development, vision and strategy for several business lines. Andrea is a Sales Engineer in the Corporate and Legal Solutions Group at CSC. Since joining CSC in 2017,
Andrea: has specialized in global subsidiary management and entity management, working with prospects to present an accurate and clear scope of services, including helping subsidiaries stay in compliance, as well as demonstrating CSC Entity Management. And with that, let's welcome John and Andrea.
Andrea:: Hi, good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining us.
John:: Hi, everyone. We appreciate you all taking the time to attend our session today. Together, Andrea and I will be taking you through a series of matter management related topics as shown here on the agenda. Fundamentally, our goal is for you to walk away from today's call with a better understanding of what a matter management system is, how a solution might provide potential benefits to law departments and some practical recommendations both with respect to implementation and also selecting a vendor.
So we're going to start by defining matter management at a high level. We'll then review common challenges faced by law departments who do not currently have a solution. From there, we're going to provide a series of practical recommendations in terms of assessing the different platforms out there. We'll also cover some best practices relative to implementing this kind of software solution. And I'm going to talk a little bit about CSC's offering and then jump into a quick demo. Finally, we are going to tie it all up with a Q&A session as James had mentioned.
So with that, we're going to go ahead and kick things off by speaking specifically about what matter management is. Now many of you on today's call may already be familiar with the term. In short, matter management software refers to a platform that is traditionally used by corporate law departments to manage legal projects. And we say legal projects deliberately because the definition of a matter is loose. This could refer to litigation, either defensive or offensive. It could refer to a contract or perhaps a contract request from another business area. It might report for some sort of deal or transaction, or it could be a claim, a wage garnishment, or a subpoena.
The idea is that it kind of runs the gamut. And a good solution will provide you with flexibility in this regard. So it's going to allow you to capture different data, manage documents, collaborate with others, and run reports based on the different types of matters that are relevant to your law department.
Another important thing to note is that whereas matter management traditionally refers to software used by an in-house corporate law department, case management typically refers to software used by a law firm. So there's some overlap between those types of products, but they fundamentally adhere to different audiences and provide different capabilities.
So with that, I'm going to move things over to Andrea. And she's going to talk a little bit about the challenges faced by those law departments that do not currently have a system in place.
Andrea:: Excellent. This next section really is relevant for quite a few of our listeners today because so many of you did respond to us not having the system in place. John and I have the pleasure of speaking with clients who are considering the matter management platform for the first time. And we hear some common challenges over and over again, as clients who don't have any type of a formal solution in place, the challenge is relative to managing your types of matters.
The first and probably most common challenge that we hear about is a lack of a central repository. With all the various types of matters that you could be managing across your business and all of the elements that are included in those matters, it's critical to have these items easily accessible and preferably all in one place.
For your contracts, you need to be able to easily identify your renewal dates, the parties involved, the contract terms, or expiration dates. But you're also going to want to track other types of details for your other types of matters, such as your garnishments, your real estate, your trademarks, for example. Then, of course, there's other components to those matters, like your documents, your emails, tasks, or notes, and you want to store all of these items again in the same location.
Having all of your information or components in different silos can make oversight incredibly challenging, which can open your business up to risks associated with not having the proper visibility or oversight into your matters. Not to mention the incredible waste of time that can be spent while you're sifting through the various storage places, trying to find all of your documents or other pertinent information.
And hand in hand with that idea comes confusion. Do I have the most recent version of a contract or document? Did my colleague complete the tasks that I asked them to? Who is addressing a particular need? Or perhaps worse are multiple people working on the same thing and we're losing some efficiencies across our organization?
These project overlaps and manual processes can be avoided with a proper matter management solution. Ideally, the platform that you select will help you to automate the distribution of matters to your team. It will help you to keep your colleagues informed with the ability to assign work or track tasks and to keep your dates. And it can also help you to have complete visibility on the life cycle of any matter like staying on top of your contracts from initial draft to final execution or beyond.
And when multiple people are working on different pieces of these legal projects, Excel, Dropbox, or shared drives, these options might not offer you the right resources for collaboration. It can lack functionality to assign or track tasks or to share emails or exchange notes with your team very seamlessly. Companies also have concern over security assets and audit visibility. Who has access to the projects, the data or the documents that are in your system? Perhaps some users need only a read-only visibility into your projects versus the team who's actively managing the data or the documents.
Moreover, what changes are being made to the application? When are those data changes happening? Can you easily discern these changes? Or who made the last set of changes? Or do you have the peace of mind to know that only authorized people are making data changes within your platform?
And as you know, reporting is critical. Having your data, documents, tasks, emails, or notes assembled and together is important. But is that data actually functional and accessible when you need it? Can you quickly understand, for example, your answer dates for your litigation or your contract expiration dates? Do you have a way to take an analytical view of your matters without manually collecting information from each of your different data sources?
We also touched on security with the audit discussion but it's such a critical concept. With all of the changing regulations, with all the data breaches and increased privacy concerns, security and confidentiality is of the utmost concern.
Not only do we need internal security or the ability to control user permissions within our own organization, we may also find ourselves needing to collaborate with third parties on our matters. And it's imperative that your matter platform can provide you with the appropriate ability to do so.
Emailing litigation or contracts to outside partners may open your company up to some other risks or challenges not to mention security concerns. A quality matter management platform will not only allow you to email documents or information from the platform as you decide, but also provide with the appropriate level of access to be able to bring those third-party users into the application in whatever limited capacity you decide not just to meet your collaborative needs, but also to alleviate your security concerns.
John:: Thanks, Andrea. So in front of us in the checklist which underscores some of the most important items to consider. And we're going to unpack each of these in more detail throughout the course of today's presentation. At a high level to run through this list, you're going to want to consider things like the following. First, technology that meets your needs. So specifically, you will want to select the platform that meets your needs today, but also has the capacity to grow with the evolving needs of your law department. So more specifically, is the solution able to scale in terms of your user base, your data capture requirements, and your ongoing need to collaborate those within and outside of your department?
Additionally, is it the right fit? Our product managers and our implementation team often hear from middle-sized organizations that they've purchased top tier sophisticated systems, but it turns out to be difficult to implement those systems effectively. They might be overblown and costly with respect to their needs. We're going to dive into the technology elements, specifically on the next slide.
Security, I'm sure it comes as no surprise to those of you on the call that this factor becomes more and more relevant with each passing day. So you need to consider whether the provider has a credible security stance. And to what extent it's going to provide you with granular controls around who can do certain things and access certain content.
Document management and searching. So does the system offers you robust document management capabilities and a simple way to search?
Integration. So in short, how simple is it to get information in and out of the platform? And that could be with respect to your email client, your service of process, or downstream applications that need to talk to it, for lack of a better term.
Collaboration. So can areas of your business partner with you on a given project? Can you permission outside counsel in?
The ability to configure fields is also a core consideration. So do you have the ability to implement changes yourself to capture new information or change what's being captured by your team? Or is that going to entail outreach to a vendor to make those changes for you?
E-billing is something that we're going to unpack in a much greater detail later in the presentation. But in short when you engage outside counsel, there's a spend management element that needs to be tracked. You need to consider when the solution will allow you to do that and provide you with meaningful ways to reduce your legal spend and operational in-house expense.
Cost. So this is an obvious one with any buying decision there are budgetary considerations. This is particularly applicable to those law departments who do not currently have a system in place.
Expertise and support. So with regard to prior implementations for organizations like yours, what expertise does the vendor offer? What training is available? And does that come at a cost or without a cost?
Canceling service is the last item on this list. This is an interesting thing to consider and something that, frankly, is often overlooked. But if things don't work out with your provider, is there any expense associated with extracting your data and your documents? We've seen law departments hit with some hefty price tags in this situation, and that can come as a surprise. So it's better to ask that question from the gate and come to an understanding of, you know, what might be the situation should that need arise?
So the slide that next appears distinguishes between the two common approaches employed by matter management providers. And so we're talking about kind of different technology options. Fundamentally, there are two options available. You have installed software and you have browser-based software. So installed software is often referred to as on-premises deployment. Browser-based is also known as cloud-based software. If you've heard that term, it is also referred to as software as a service or SaaS. We're going to take a few minutes breaking down the distinctions between these two approaches.
So in the leftmost column, installed software, this refers to a vendor installing software that you maintain in your own network environment. Now, this affords your organization greater control over the underlying infrastructure but at a substantial cost. So deployment is often costly. Deployment is often time consuming and dependent on your internal IT resources. And it may pose challenges with respect to being limited to certain computers on certain networks or certain individuals.
Furthermore, enhancements and upgrades will likely need to be deployed by your internal IT resources. And that means that you may be competing with other internal projects and therefore, you know, it might entail weeks or months before you realize the benefits of new features and bug fixes and things of that nature. So in many respects, this is the old school kind of traditional model of software installation.
Now by comparison browser-based which you see in the right in this column, this is something that we've seen corporate law departments gravitating to in mass for quite some time. Rather than deployment on your company's infrastructure, this is more of a plug and play approach.
And so here through a username and a password or through single sign on and a mouse click, you connect to web-based software and an online manner. Now there's not any operational expense associated with hosting and maintaining software. There's no complicated installation process. Upgrades are generally deployed in a seamless manner and your department can realize the benefits immediately. So whether you refer to it as browser-based or SaaS or a cloud solution, this is where we have seen the market heading for quite a while now.
So that kind of gets into the distinctions between the different software approaches whether you opt for installed or browser-based, security is something that you absolutely should and must consider in evaluating different providers relative to matter management.
The importance of this factor simply can't be understated. No one wants to be on the front page of "The Wall Street Journal" because of compromised data. And at the same time, most departments need pretty granular controls with respect to what actions each individual user can take, what information they can see, and how each of those actions can be audited should the need arrive.
So as a quick plug, CSC's solution is used by many, many, many different corporations and some of the largest financial institutions on the planet. We tick all of those boxes if you are subject to the scrutiny of an information security department or external auditor, so we have a stock too. We've got stringent data access, processes, and controls, secure server environments, business continuity plans, disaster recovery, etc. And we also undergo third-party application penetration testing on a regular schedule basis.
So we could probably explore security for the next hour. That's obviously not the focus of today's call. But on the screen in front of you are some questions that you should certainly ask when assessing a matter management provider. So before making a buying decision, you should absolutely explore each of these. You know, specifically, where's the data stored? Who has access to that data? How's the data protected? What are the vendor security practices? All of these are things that you ought to be considering as you evaluate different solutions that are out there.
Andrea:: Let's get into this concept of document management a little bit more. For those who are new to looking for a matter management platform or even if you have some type of a platform in place, a quality matter management platform is going to provide you with a centralized depository, not just for your data elements that are associated with these matters or these projects, but also the documents and files that are associated with those matters.
It's crucial that this centralized database provides you with easy access to all of your documents and files and enables you to have different ways to search within them. You'll want to consider how long you can expect the documents and files to be stored. If you upload a document, is it going to be perpetually stored or is there date limit when the document will expire and then will be purged from the system?
In our conversations with prospective clients who are considering CSC's Matter Management platform, John and I have heard from companies who are surprised and caught off guard by a notification that they received from their incumbent provider that their documents were going to be purged shortly. This type of notification can leave an organization in a scramble to act quickly to make sure that data or documents aren't lost.
Also consider with your system the way that the documents are associated or indexed within that platform. Are those documents organized in a way that makes sense to you? Do you have the ability within the system to associate documents or index them directly to the relevant legal matters or projects? Or are they going to be lumped together in one disorganized place? Would you prefer a linear view of each document that's loaded into the system? Or would you rather see subsequent pleadings being grouped together underneath of one matter?
You also need a system that's going to support obviously all of the document or file types necessary. So it's important to understand if you'll be restricted to just a few common file formats within the system, or can you really store any type of document or file that your team is going to need to have captured within that centralized repository?
Regarding documents searching, don't settle. For those of you who are experiencing challenges with that document searching, don't just settle for any old matter management platform. There are solutions available out there that are going to allow you to search documents in a variety of ways and some of those ways are outlined here on this slide.
You'll be able to search by document title, for example, a key word or phrase, a company or an individual name, or even a document upload or edit date. And for some platforms such as CSC's Matter Management platform, some of those will allow us to not just customize the fields of information that are stored about your matters in your project, but also customize the data elements that are tracked or reported about your documents and files. So this will give you the flexibility to search by any other data fields, or any document attribute fields that being captured within the application.
And of course, it goes without saying that data is crucial to managing your business and that data drives success and allows you to make sound educated decisions in your business. Getting data into your matter management platform is great, but once it's in there, what can you really do with it? Consider the functionality that's provided from a reporting standpoint and be sure that the system that you select or the system that you're using today does meet all of your reporting needs. Understand how is data within the platform accessible?
When you try to extract data with your reports in a meaningful and analytical way, is that process seamless and user friendly for you or is it kind of daunting or time consuming for you or your team? Are you able to report upon an unlimited amount of data fields, including all of your custom data elements? Or are you limited to just canned reports based on the standard fields that are stored within the application?
You would want a solution that allows you to dynamically build new reports on the fly and also give administrators or super users the ability to modify those existing reports, and also provide oversight for key team members while simultaneously controlling who have access to that kind of information. If your system enables role-based permissions, then reports should also be role based. If there's a user that sees only a subset of your legal matters or your projects, then when they run a report, by virtue of that security setting, they should only have access to that same information via your reporting modules.
You would also want to make sure that all data in the solution is reportable, obviously, whether you need to report on your legal spends using an e-billing component. Or if you want to get a sense for the volume of garnishments that have been received in the last quarter, for example. If you need to know a list of your contracts that will expire in the next 90 days, or what the renewal terms of those contracts are, or if you simply need to see a task list from last week that were assigned but are still incomplete, your matter management platform should not limit you with regard to your ability to understand or report upon those data points in any meaningful way.
Public versus private, again, controlling ultimately who has access to the reports that you're designing within the solution.
And finally, the ability to save reports to run again and again. Saving report templates, so you don't have to build your report criteria is really going to help you to streamline your recording processes and automate your processes reporting.
One of the most popular features of CSC's Matter Management platform that I hear from clients or prospects during my demo of this tool is the ability to not only design reports, but to schedule them to be delivered in an automated fashion. Our solution allows organizations to build reports, but then also the system can dynamically email them on a routine basis in a secured fashion. So that really that scheduling capability turns reporting into alerting, which is another way of having again, that transparency or that oversight over your legal projects.
John:: All right, so we're going to move over on to the subject of integration. This is another core consideration when evaluating the different solutions out there in the marketplace. Now in short, the platform that you selected is not going to be effective if it is an island unto itself. Your department uses multiple tools. The folks that you interface with and other departments use multiple tools and information needs to flow freely between them. And if it doesn't, your colleagues might throw up their hands in frustration.
So at a high level, some of the important considerations are things like, how does the information enter the system? To that end, is there a lot of manual repeat? Can you do automated imports of information on a periodic basis? And then, how does information flow out to other systems? To frame these questions in a practical way and bring it into focus, I'm going to spend a minute or two talking about how CSC's system accomplishes that.
So we're going to start through kind of three or four different examples. The first concerns email integration. So obviously, a tremendous amount of correspondence comes through via email. While you're working in Outlook or another email client, can you save a message and its attachments to a matter? Oftentimes, this requires a series of time consuming manual steps. But there are ways to do that with certain solutions with a click of the mouse.
Second, service of process integration. So this is something that is unique to CSC and other registered agents service providers. In our role as registered agent, we're on the front lines of receiving inbound litigation and other legal documents. So things like garnishments, subpoenas, bankruptcy pleadings, and the like, there served on us as registered agent. So taking those documents and making them available electronically in our solution is something that occurs automatically, based on the instructions that you provide with respect to who should receive different types of documents.
Essentially, when a first document is received in a matter, we'll create the matter. And then as subsequent pleadings are served, they're automatically channeled to the appropriate context with no effort required on your part.
Third, we have the notion of outbound document fees. So there might be certain types of documents that need to be transmitted to a downstream system. That might be, you know, a HR system where your payroll team is processing garnishments. It might be a subpoena compliance group that handles those types of record requests, or potentially it could be an ELM service provider that manages high profile litigation. So the ability to transmit those documents externally is something you may want to consider.
Fourth, and something that we're going to delve into in more detail in a slide or two is this e-billing component. So this is a classic example where a platform should give you not only the ability to receive, manage and approve inbound invoices, but it should also allow you to transmit approved invoices to your accounts payable system. So once the invoices have been paid, you know, there's also the ability to kind of create a return data feed with that paid invoice information so that you can get a true picture of your legal spend.
We went through a lot there but those are all important factors to consider when evaluating a solution. So what we are going to touch on next is the collaborative aspect of matter management. And this like integration is definitely one of the foremost considerations as you're looking at different providers.
We hit on this briefly earlier in the deck, but it does go on a little bit more exploration. So one of the core benefits, obviously, of a system like this is getting folks to collaborate in a meeting efficient and effective way. On a practical level, that means getting out of email exchanges that pile up with subsequent replies and document revisions, getting out of spreadsheets, and getting out of battling for access to files on shared network drives.
So what you need to do is you need to consider the needs of your law department and who your team interacts with on a frequent basis. This includes other areas within your business but also the law firms that you retain for different types of matters that come through your department. So namely, you know, do you have the ability to grant those other departments access? Can you control what they're able to do? Is there a detailed audit history available of their actions?
Do you have a means of farming out important work and setting expectations and deadlines that generate notifications for the folks managing those tasks? For outside counsel, do you have visibility into their work product, you know, for the pleadings that they're drafting on your behalf? Can you see their correspondence with opposing counsel? Is there a way for the firm to provide periodic updates to your in-house team without that becoming buried in email? So these are all things that you might want to consider, you know, as far as collaboration and your ability to partner with folks both inside and outside of your department.
John:: Our next consideration for you is scalability. The matter management platform that you're using should be a long-term solution. Of course, it's easy to predict our needs today, but it's not so easy to predict the needs of tomorrow. And we need to make sure that the matter management platform that you're using is going to grow with you. As the needs of your organization change, does the system change too or does it say kind of rigid and inflexible? What happens down the line if there's a shift in your processes and a new need arises for tracking or managing information in a different way?
Some things to consider about scalability includes things like the ability to update your custom fields or to track new data points. Can you modify this yourself or does the vendor actually need to step in and help you? And if so, is there an extra costs associated with the vendor assistance for those changes?
With your document retention, is there a limit to the number of documents or ultimately a storage capacity that you could use? Are you going to find yourself down the line exceeding or meeting your threshold of document storage capabilities or else additional fees are required for increased storage?
Can you make your system so that the right parties can see the data and the documents? And if those parties change, can you quickly on the fly adjust those permissions on your own? Or again, does the vendor need to step in and assist you?
Will the documents search criteria abilities allow you to search multiple different ways? Again, helping you to easily and efficiently identify your documents or your files in the system.
Again, touching on collaboration, how easy is it for you to permission other departments or outside counsel? Is the reporting fast and flexible? Or will you constantly have to spend an exorbitant amount of time a building or editing your reports or rebuild them within the application?
And then lastly that e-billing component, is the e-billing an option with the matter management solution that you've selected? Will pricing for that component change as time goes on or as your number of vendors increases that you're dealing with within the application? All good items that you want to be able to understand and know the answers to.
And in this last slide, we touched upon scalability and your changing needs over time. And we wanted to highlight a little bit more of this concept of self-service versus vendor assistance with those changing needs. Vendor assistance can be incredibly valuable but it can also lead to an increase in cost or even a loss of time for your projects. We know that down the road, a client's needs are going to change. Before you find yourself in that situation, it's important to have clarity from your partners regarding how much input or help you're going to need from those vendors once you get this solution in place.
It's not always convenient to implement a system that requires continuous vendor assistance to achieve your most basic needs in a platform. Things such as changing the type of data collected, adding new data fields or making certain data points required when entering new matters in the application. If you do find yourself in a situation where the vendor has to provide you with some kind of assistance for your matter platforms, how much does that cost you?
If anything, some vendors will include those services. Will this process of vendors stepping in add time and cost to your projects? Or does the vendor include that service and support with your purchase? Again, all of these questions can help to provide you with greater budget certainty, and a better understanding of how self-sufficient you'll really be with the matter management platform that you select.
John:: Great. So on to e-billing and spend management. We've touched on this concept several times during today's discussion, but we do want to spend a little bit of time explaining it in more detail. Going back to our definition of a matter as a legal project and is being tracked by your law department, there are certain types of legal projects that require you to retain outside counsel.
Now when outside capital becomes involved, naturally, there's a spend component that becomes part of the equation. E-billing or legal spend management is a way to manage that financial component of the matter. And it provides you with the ability to do a couple of different things.
First and foremost, it's an opportunity to retire and what in many cases is a manual or paper-based process. So you no longer need to receive invoices via email, for example.
Secondly, it provides you with the ability to validate invoices based on your established billing guidelines. And effectively these are a series of rules that govern what vendors can and cannot bill. So as a practical example for a particular firm or timekeeper, you may have a negotiated hourly rate for the services they provide. There might be certain things that your organization is not willing to pay for. For example, photocopies or travel-related expenses or things along those lines.
And so basically when an invoice comes through rather than relying upon a human to read it and catch those types of entries, whether it's a discrepancy in terms of being overcharged or being charged with something that you shouldn't have been billed for in the first place, the system is going to catch it. And the system will generally provide you with a couple of different options in terms of how you handle those scenarios. So those could be outright rejections on the invoice based on violation of the rule. And it could also be that the entry is flagged for review so that you have the opportunity to investigate and adjust it.
Now robust e-billing applications may also provide you with a third option of going through what's often referred to as an appeals process. So that when entries are flagged for review you can exchange comments and potential adjustments with the vendor in kind of a back and forth manner. And ultimately the goal of that type of workflow is to reach consensus with the firm in terms of what should be paid.
Another core benefit is the opportunity to automate the routing of the invoice through different stages of approval. So a very simple example of that is limited authority. So for example, invoices above a certain dollar amount might have an additional layer of approval. And then depending upon the threshold that you established there might be two, three, or more levels of approval based on those thresholds.
Generally, there's a workflow where the first approver receives notification on submission of the invoice. When they approve, the second approver receives notification and so on and so forth until that invoice is ultimately approved in totality and it's transmitted to accounts payable.
As we touched on earlier, in many cases approved invoices are then transmitted to accounts payable through an outbound data feed. Ideally there's also a return trip data feed from that system so that paid invoice details are passed back into your matter management system. So from a reporting perspective, once you have that paid invoice data, you can compare your actual spend with any budgets that you've defined. At the end of the day this provides you with oversight and traceability which is one of obviously the expected outcomes of implementing a system like this.
Right. So next we're going to talk a little bit about cost, and this is always a fun topic. Generally speaking law departments are considered to be cost centers. And it's no secret that buying decisions and the selection of a given platform is often influenced heavily by the bottom line. If you're in the market for a solution, it's obviously something that you will not forget to ask. At the same time there are some things that you should be raising as questions in order to uncover the kind of the complete picture. So for starters, what's the fee structure? Is it based on the overall number of users, the number of documents that are stored, the number of matters?
Many solutions out there include seat licensing fees. And those can hinder adoption both inside and outside of your department because there's an incremental cost with every new user that comes on board.
Other cost considerations include the availability of new features and the cost of upgrades. So do you stand to incur additional fees to leverage new capabilities or are they rolled out free of charge?
Going back to the on-premises model versus a cloud-based model, do you need to involve your IT to realize new benefits of the software? And if so, you know, does that mean that you're going to need to compete with other IT projects within your organization? There might also be hidden costs relative to implementation, training, and support. And I think Andrea is going to take us through those in a little bit more depth.
Andrea:: Absolutely. Speaking of costs, training and support is often one of the highest contributors to an increased cost of a matter management platform. It's important for you to understand the type of training you could expect to receive and the cost and inclusion of that training. Does training include, for example, multiple people or will it be just limited to only a small group of your team? Is training and support ongoing or is it only available upfront with your implementation?
Unfortunately, John and I had spoken with organizations that were using other providers who ultimately found out that the vendor that they selected didn't actually support ongoing training for the platform without additional costs. Matter platforms can be very robust and very complex and it's just unreasonable to expect that training won't be required after your initial training session.
And our last topic might be kind of uncomfortable to think about. But it's important to understand what happens if the solution doesn't work out. Really, the right time to be asking that question is before you actually engage with the product or the vendor. Implementing any kind of a system is a tremendous investment of time and money. And while you likely prefer not to cancel your service and start all over again, it's prudent to understand what will happen is you should find yourself needing to exit the relationship.
First, you'll want to understand if there's a contract or a set term required in order to use the system that you're selecting. Be sure that there are no additional fees or penalties for early termination. Also get clarity regarding who owns the data and the documents that you entered into the system. Understand if you can extract the data on your own or if you're going to need vendor assistance to get the data or the documents out of the application.
This sounds like a totally ridiculous notion but too often I've spoken with prospective clients that have told me horror stories about the way that other providers have essentially held their data or documents hostage or charged organizations extra to export the data from the system. And otherwise kind of complicated the extraction process or complicated the actual ending of the relationship.
John:: That dovetails nicely into our next topic which concerns tips for implementation. So these are practical recommendations for departments that are implementing a solution. Here at CSC we've onboarded more than 450 corporate law departments onto our platform. And based on their experience and feedback, these are the most common themes that kind of rise to the forefront.
The first one is a pretty simple recommendation, but to foster a smooth transition and drive user adoption, you're going to want to assign a project lead. By no means is that going to be the only person involved in your implementation. But someone does need to be designated as a point person in terms of ongoing dialogue with your provider, and also to rally the folks in your department.
Once you assign that point person, you're also going to want to debrief on exactly what outcomes you hope to achieve. So that includes things like, you know, what are your success metrics? Are there any best practices that, you know, exist within your law department that ought to be standardized? Those types of things to lead into the implementation.
As a practical example of that there may be certain pieces of information that you want to track, you know, maybe it's something like a contract expiration date. You know, should you mandate that field be required, so that it's always present and populated for recording purposes?
Another key thing is setting the intention. So what specifically are the expectations of your legal team? What we sometimes seen are scenarios where decision makers purchase a solution but fail to articulate to their team what exactly they hope to achieve. So ideally, that can be part of the briefing process. The general counsel or VPs that were involved in that decision can provide perspective and insight as to what exactly the objectives are.
Another thing is starting to organize your data. So you may already have this. But if you do not have a tracking mechanism, it makes sense to begin compiling
relevant matters into a tabular format. And that can be as simple as a spreadsheet. So what is the type of matter? Who are the parties involved? Is there a case number or other pertinent identifier for contracts? You know, what type of agreement? Is it? What's the expiration date? What parties need to be listed? You know, what's the notice provision? If you have that information in a spreadsheet for that, most vendors will have the ability to import it for you.
And then finally, discuss the data points that you want to track. Consider what reports you'd like to create and what the appropriate field type is for different pieces of information. So, you know, should there be drop down fields for consistency in terms of how folks are coding things? Should there be radio buttons? Are there open text fields? Does it make sense in certain circumstances to force the use of an actual date value versus a currency value? Things like that. And I would suggest leaning heavily on your provider's implementation team to provide guidance and, you know, recommendations here, leverage their expertise.
All right, we're just about to jump into the demo. The last thing that we want to do prior to the demo is talking a little bit more detail about CSC's Matter Management solution. A quick note on the demo itself, it's going to be abbreviated in length. So if our solution piques your interest, there will be a final poll question, which will allow you to let us know that you'd like to be contacted for further information.
But quickly here two slides on what CSC Matter Management is. Our solution is a legal project management school which caters to the needs of corporate law departments. It allows you to manage data, manage documents and has a strong collaboration components which allows you to work with colleagues in your department, with other areas of your business and with your outside counsel.
And as Andrea had noted, it has a very powerful reporting engine which grants transparency and oversight. It is also a very versatile solution. So flexibility is at the core of this platform. That is important because a matter as we've discussed can be so many different things. That can be a legal matter that's filed with the court, a contract, a piece of real estate, a wage garnishments, any number of different things.
So CSC's solution is going to provide you with the tools necessary to manage those different types of matters and also track information in accordance with the template that you've defined. And we're going to delve into that a little bit more during the demo.
In terms of the capabilities that we bring to the table, just to kind of highlight some of these, CSC offers that e-billing or legal spend management component that we had discussed. You've got the ability to integrate your email client with the solution. Again, one click to save an email from Outlook onto the platform. You have the direct integration that we discussed, relative to service of process by way of our role is registered agent. So we create new matters. We tie subsequent meetings to existing matters.
There's a very robust document management piece with check-in, check-out and versioning capabilities. And as noted before, there's no constraints in terms of the number of documents that you can upload. And that's not going to alter your subscription fee. There's also a collaborative capabilities. And as mentioned before, reporting is incredibly strong. So every data element is rolled up into reporting. And as we had mentioned, those reports can be scheduled for recurring delivery via email. So in summary, quite an extensive list of benefits that your department can realize.