How Kerry Angel Modernized Her Law Firm with ITSM

Q&A with Kerry Angel from Macfarlanes

In November, Kerry Angel from Macfarlanes LLP and David Stevenson from Crossfuze came together to discuss how to leverage IT to further a law firm's overall success by increasing efficiency and improving client experiences. Kerry heads up Service Delivery at Macfarlanes and has nearly 20 years' experience in the legal sector. She led Macfarlanes through its remarkably successful digital transformation with the platform over the last 12 months. David is Crossfuze's ITSM practice lead and ServiceNow technical architect. David not only possesses deep technical knowledge but also plays an advisory role and is a thought-leader in the ITSM space. 

They shared with us how they successfully implemented ServiceNow IT Service Management at Macfarlanes, a distinctive London-based law firm, focused on clients and on delivering excellence in the international legal market.

This transcript has been edited for length. For the full interview, click here to watch the webinar on-demand >>>

Q: What business outcomes are Macfarlanes striving to achieve? And how do you see IT contributing to its success?

KERRY ANGEL: We have a very tight-knit support team. They advise on our most critical matters with clarity and confidence. That's the mission that they have. And that's where we aim to be. So, this leads to some great ideas, some stronger relationships, and greater efficiency. It's the quality of experience. And that distinguishes us from our larger competitors but only that it enhances our reputation for solving our clients' most complex and technically legal issues. We've made a deliberate choice to remain smaller than most of our peers because of this tight-knit community that we have. And we talk to one another on a regular basis. So, collaboration by many different means is extremely important to the business.

 

Q: So, what problems were Macfarlanes facing that drove IT to look for and choose a new ITSM platform?

KERRY ANGEL: I think it's really important to remember that at the start of this project, we had little or no IT processes in place. Although there was a change process of sorts, there were a number of different systems that were used across all of the IT departments with no interaction between them. As far as the service desk was concerned, there were no ITIL processes at all. Incidents were called problems and there was no problem management and definitely no major incident reporting at all. In addition to that, we had no stats. At the time of the project, the team was using Skype for Business, which has little to no capacity when you're trying to use it as a call center. In fact, when requesting reports to show the number of abandoned calls as a result of an outage, the service desk manager at the time wasn't able to give me any information at all. So, we didn't know how many people were waiting in the queue, how many people had called up for the second time, no way of focusing on how we could manage that process at all. And we just didn't have a clue as to what was actually going on.

Q: OK, so with all those issues identified, why did you look at ServiceNow and why did you select ServiceNow?

KERRY ANGEL: Without any prior knowledge of any ITSM solution, we attended a service desk show in London. It gave us a feel for what was on the market. We could compare exactly what we needed. It was important for us to have a system in place which we could use to springboard the rest of the future of IT, and something we could use as a base. It had to have longevity. And it had to stand out in the marketplace. So, with that in mind, we narrowed it down to two solutions in the end. And finally, we picked ServiceNow. It's the cleanest and crispest, and easiest to use with the most longevity in my opinion. And that's how we did it. So, I had the confidence that ServiceNow would be able to make sure that we could grow as a team and as a unit and then obviously feed that straight into the business. 

Q: Great. So, thinking back then, when you were onboarding ServiceNow or implementing ServiceNow, how did you get buy-in from others that you had made the right decision?

KERRY ANGEL: The Partnership's got a short term in their budget cycle. So, they're always looking for return on investment. Particularly if the partners don't always see the benefit of IT, they look at it as a kind of cost and a pit where money disappears into. So in order to get the budget to implement ServiceNow, we needed to find out what they didn't like about the service they were receiving and whether we could align it with what ServiceNow could provide, therefore fixing their problem, so to speak. So, there were such comments like “I can't be bothered to ring because no one really follows up on my problem” to things like “they just don't know what's going on from one area to another.” So those kinds of comments are really common. We knew there was an appetite to improve things. The IT director was fairly new, so he'd been with the firm a couple of years before I got there. And we'd started to implement things like new Surface Pros and so on. We knew the business was ready for change. And by telling them or listening to what their issues were and saying, “well a new ITSM solution will be able to help with some of that,” then ease some of their pain, it meant that we were able to get buy-in quite quickly for them.

Q: So then thinking about today, how has ServiceNow helped reduce the administrative tasks so that the partners, lawyers, the staff can spend more time on client work?

KERRY ANGEL: Yeah, so that's actually a really interesting question because prior to that, the starters, movers, and leavers process was all manual, for example. So, it was open to human error. For instance, when somebody leaves, we have to obviously disable their accounts and we have to make sure we get all the equipment back. When someone starts or joins, we need to make sure that we've got the accounts all set up, they know where they're sitting, they have all their equipment, and so on. All of this was a manual process. And as I said before, it was all open to human error. So, what we've done is automate a lot of those tasks. We're just about to go live in phase two of our starters, movers, and leavers process, which will mean that it's all done through workflows. So, the minute it's loaded in the system from the HR database, it cascades through to ServiceNow, dishes out tickets to the right department - facilities, for example - and we now know where everyone will be sitting, for example. We don't make quite as many mistakes, the lawyers don't have to ring up and complain that there's no equipment on the desk of the new starter, and they get on with their normal work.

Q: How did you promote self-service? And was it a challenge to start with?

KERRY ANGEL: It was a challenge. The way that we decided to do it was to actually drip feed it. So, as I said at the very beginning of this, we didn't have any processes in place. And there wasn't any real communication with the business. So, what we set up is that when a lawyer or a secretary calls up, a call is logged for them. They get an email sent to say thank you for contacting the service desk along with a link. So, what they would do is click the link and they'd go to the self-service portal. They'd see the information we've put in, which analyst is working on it, etc. So unbeknownst to them what we were doing was drip-feeding self-service. We had 115 people use it on day one, which for a law firm like us was absolutely incredible. And that kind of went on for six, seven months or so. Then when we actually went live on the self-service itself, it was kind of, well, this is just the next logical step. They'd already been using it without realizing they had been. So, when we started promoting the actual self-service portal, they were screens they recognized. It wasn't difficult because they had already been using it.

Q: OK, great. So, you mentioned facilities. What's the best way to engage with people outside of IT?

KERRY ANGEL: ServiceNow has been in place for about a year now and people have started to see the benefit of it. For example, we're sitting in a high-level management meeting with the managing partner, and one of the other business heads will say “this isn't working, we need something a bit more technical”. And someone else will say, “actually, we can put that into ServiceNow.” So, it's spreading the word of it. I actually had an email this morning from the manager of our library services asking if we can start putting the legal books and legal papers and stuff onto ServiceNow and use it a bit like a loan service. So that's quite exciting because as I said, people are starting to think about how it can help. And it's not just a case of me trying to ram that down their throats. They're really starting to engage with the whole thing now. And the wider picture is business services, or my aim will be that most of business services will have ServiceNow in some form.

Q: Brilliant. So, what are the three key things to concentrate on when transforming IT?

KERRY ANGEL: I think the first important thing is to make sure that the IT team are brought along for the ride at the very, very beginning. So, everyone needs to be an advocate of ServiceNow to be able to kind of spread the good word. If I don't bring them on board from a very early stage, they kind of lose concentration on it and don't really see the benefit often as far as they're concerned. The other point is making sure the business knows how it's going to benefit them. Lawyers don't necessarily know from a technical point of view what ServiceNow would do to help them. But if we explained to them, well, if you do have an issue, then you can call us and then you kind of can forget it because we will deal with it for you. And it's getting to be a more proactive service. So, we'll be able to spot issues before they realize there are any issues. So, when you design ServiceNow, spend some time engaging with the business services that are going to use it. Make sure you put all the bits and pieces together so it's easy to log a ticket. It’s easy to report on the structure, so you know how many calls you get about Outlook, or you know how many calls you get about slow logging-in times - that kind of thing.

Q: OK. And you mentioned that Macfarlanes is a traditional law firm. So how have you driven the engagement within the business?

KERRY ANGEL: We have quite a few traditional law firms in the city, as I'm sure you do across the US as well. But the law firm, I think, needs to be ready for change. And as I said before, Macfarlanes was kind of at that stage where they were ready to take the next step and make that next change. They had already gone through a huge amount of IT change. So, the firm was primed for it, really. I think it's important still to make sure, as I said before, that the lawyers know what they're going to get out of it, that by spending less time on the phone with IT, they can spend more time looking after their clients.

Q: David, so we have some questions here. The first one is how can a partner like Crossfuze help with my firm's specific ITSM need?

DAVID STEVENSON: Yeah, a great question. So again, once you take our ITSM maturity assessment, you're going to see those personalized recommendations on where your IT organization is at today. If you're interested in diving deeper, we're certainly going to be happy to chat about how we can not only help but also take you to that next level ITSM maturity. But we don't just stop there. Again, just like how we are continuing to work with Macfarlanes and Kerry Angel, we want to be able to build out a roadmap based on your firm's specific needs and goals to make sure you're set up for the future and beyond.

Q: What are some of the questions I should ask when evaluating my firm's ITSM maturity level?

DAVID STEVENSON: So again, we want to be able to survey for the current employee experience and ask how the lawyers and other employees are bogged down. We want to be able to help them evaluate what tasks could be automated or improved. Our focus at the end of the day is improving the employee experience and also allowing them to be freed up to focus on more billable work. We also want to have discussions between different departments. Kerry had mentioned this earlier, too, with the higher management meetings. We want to look at other departments such as HR and facilities and see if there's any systems or integrations that can be leveraged by each other to improve the quality of information and the employee experience that we're providing to our end users.

Q: So how specifically can ServiceNow help a firm's IT become more proactive?

DAVID STEVENSON: Kerry had touched on it a little bit, the first thing is ServiceNow is very aligned to industry-standard best practices and ITIL models today. We also allow, based on your maturity model or your maturity level, to be able to integrate with whatever level you want to be and whatever level you want to work toward in the future. So, for example, if you're a law firm that's at perhaps level 0, level 1, ServiceNow has the flexibility to allow a simple ITSM engagement to try to get you immediately to the next level, so just a level 1 to allow some structured ITSM processes. If you're a much more mature firm in terms of ITSM maturity, ServiceNow also has the advanced capabilities of artificial intelligence, chat box, and virtual agents to provide trend analysis and complex workflow automation type of technologies to support your firm's needs.

Q: Great. So, Kerry, did you consider third-party service providers like The Lawyer's Help Desk? Or did you only consider in-house services? 

KERRY ANGEL: Yeah, so I think because of where IT was before we brought out ServiceNow, I mean, the fact that we didn't use any ITIL processes at all, we thought it would be a good idea to put all of the IT department through a basic foundation ITIL training course. So, I've got a third-party called Pink Elephant who are - I'm not sure if they're in the US - but in the UK they're a training provider. So, they came in and they did a day's consolidated ITIL awareness course for all of IT. So, everybody knew what we were talking about when we were talking about instant problems, change, release - all those kinds of things. Everyone was at the same level because not many people had gone through any form of ITIL foundation training. That was one of my better ideas because everyone was engaged in it. So, it was kind of like a mini team-building as well. Everyone attended the same course and they all knew what ITIL was at the end of it. Other than that, the way that we decided to implement ServiceNow using Crossfuze just meant that we kept the talent in-house. So, we trained up who's now the ServiceNow expert, on my service desk. He now is responsible for kind of molding what we have available. So that was actually, again, a very good idea because it meant that the talent didn't leave the building when the project finished. We've kept it all in-house.

This transcript has been edited for length. For the full interview, click here to watch the webinar on-demand >>>

 
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