Platform for Success: How to Maximize Legal Technology Solutions
Property and casualty insurers have a multiplicity of concerns that require the attention of legal staff and services. These legal services are typically managed and performed within several distinct parts of a carrier`s organization: the corporate legal department, the claims organization, and, for some insurers, a staff counsel organization.
Each of these areas requires legal technology solutions in order to optimize effectiveness and efficiency. And just as many carriers have benefited from the implementation of a common platform for their core systems—such as policy administration, claims management, and billing—so do platform-based legal solutions offer a host of benefits.
Challenges of Point Solutions
The IT group charged with providing technology solutions will undoubtedly find that these various teams who manage and deliver legal services have unique technology requirements, as well as many common needs. The accumulation of an array of legal point solutions to serve these needs can translate to a high total cost of ownership (TCO) for these systems.
Each application will likely have unique administrative and security processes and interfaces, which significantly reduces the efficiency of IT administration and support. Furthermore, the ability to pass data from one system to another (in support of business process and reporting requirements) necessitates integrations that often require expensive specialized resources to develop and maintain.
A collection of legal point solutions also presents challenges for IT as an insurer`s business needs evolve over time. Customization of each point system to respond to these needs, as well as associated user training and ongoing support, can involve significant investments in resources and time. This investment is compounded when changes in one system must be propagated across multiple systems. In some cases, existing software may not accommodate the expanded needs, and yet another point solution must be developed or purchased—and maintained.
Advantages of Consolidating Systems
In contrast, deployment of a technology platform as the foundation for legal technology solutions enables IT to address the distinct needs of legal resources in corporate legal, claims, or staff counsel organizations, as well as achieve synergies where there are common requirements. At the same time, a technology platform can lower TCO, simplify IT maintenance and support, and facilitate extensions that support the insurer`s unique or emerging business needs.
First, a true technology platform provides a robust set of common resources that can be shared across applications. These include core components, such as security, a database, search, and workflow and rules engines. These components are required for any application and represent approximately 80 percent of the application infrastructure.
The availability of these shared platform-level resources optimizes system interoperability and simplifies reporting across systems. In addition, having a common administration tool and security model for all platform applications reduces complexity and improves IT efficiency.
Second, a true platform enables integration of existing in-house and third-party applications, facilitated by an open integration architecture. Integration enables a more seamless flow of data and processes between systems, for example, when a claim becomes litigated, an integration between the claims and litigation management applications ensures the easy transfer of case information to a legal resource.
Finally, a true technology platform provides robust toolkits to administer, configure, and extend the solution. Such toolkits enable IT staff to make configuration changes in-house, without requiring assistance from the platform vendor or a third-party consultant. They also permit IT to rapidly and cost-effectively develop custom applications and modules that leverage core components in order to meet unique business needs, or even extend the solution to meet an insurer`s needs in areas beyond legal.
For example, the functionality of the legal platform used by the claims department to manage litigated claims could be extended to support its claims quality audits. By capturing claims data from the claims management system, applying an algorithm to randomly select candidates for review, and adding audit-specific rules and workflows, a custom module could streamline this audit process. Or, a legal platform could be extended to support discovery processes, leveraging corporate legal`s matter and spend management system and third-party discovery tools, and adding interview workflows and questionnaires. Such a discovery module would improve visibility to needed information, simplify and automate tasks, and help to ensure compliance.
What to Look For
There are key points to look for when evaluating a technology platform for legal solutions. In order to reap the full benefits of a platform-based solution, it`s important to ensure that the platform satisfies the following requirements:
- Facilitates rapid application development with reusable UI components (e.g., buttons, drop-down boxes, etc.)
- Permits applications to be built on top of the platform and leverage the base platform infrastructure
- Provides a full-range of platform-level core components that are leveraged across applications, providing approximately 80 percent of each application`s capability
- Is designed specifically for building applications that plug into each other for optimal system interoperability and data sharing
- Offers a toolkit (SDK) that enables rapid client-side or partner application/module development
- Offers out-of-the-box legal applications
- Offers a toolkit that enables advanced client-side configuration changes through the UI
- Offers an open integration architecture that facilitates client-side development and maintenance of integrations with third-party applications
A technology platform that consolidates legal solutions for corporate legal, claims, and staff counsel can simplify IT administration, maintenance, and support for those solutions, improve efficiency, and ultimately reduce TCO. A technology platform with the right architecture, features, and toolset enables IT to readily respond and adapt to change, thus more effectively supporting the growing needs of the insurers` legal functions, and in turn improving the effectiveness and efficiency of these teams.
(Chris Fields is Datacert`s Chief Technology Officer and directs research and development efforts for Datacert software solutions, including evaluation and integration of new technologies that deliver additional value to Datacert clients. Fields is one of the key inventors named on the patent for the Passport technology platform and led the development of other Datacert offerings.)