The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Robic's challenge

Digitize and automate the draft invoice management process
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What is Robic? What are the company’s objectives?

Robic is a law firm employing 180 people, including 50 professionals. It specializes in intellectual property—that is, anything involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs, and trade secrets—and in related transactions and litigation.

What problem are we trying to resolve?

Robic manages over 40,000 active files at any one time. The accounting aspects of the firm’s activities are managed with a software package used by over 60% of the law firms in North America.

This software package allows us to keep records of timesheets and billing, but is not designed to enable various members of a team to follow-up on, share, and annotate draft invoices (pro forma). Consequently, as several people may work on one file, all of the draft invoices must be validated, adjusted, revised, and approved by several people on the team.

This draft invoice management is currently handled using paper documents circulated among the professionals, who annotate them and suggest adjustments or revisions. These documents are then given to the partners, who approve the issuing of invoices for clients.

This work method results in a significant loss of productivity, in addition to increasing the risk of error. It does not allow us to assess how long it takes for a document to go through the validation process, to find the document within the organization, and to know whether or not the various people involved have all seen it.

What are our objectives?

Robic is seeking to digitize the draft invoice management process and to automate it in whole or in part. The solution should address some or all of the following issues:

  1. Facilitating the tracking of documents in the invoicing process
  2. Facilitating the annotation of draft invoices and the resolution of conflicts of interpretation
  3. Keeping track of annotations and their authors
  4. Managing the levels of approval within the organization
  5. Making it easier to locate draft invoices within the organization
  6. Issuing alerts to those responsible when a draft invoice has not been handled within a reasonable time
  7. Presenting, in an assessment chart, the status of invoicing (number of invoices issued, client accounts, etc.) for the firm’s management

What is the target? Who is being addressed?

The solution will be used by all of the professionals in the firm and by a large part of the administrative staff. While some employees are familiar with the use of digital tools, others are less so.

Simplicity and a fluid user experience are key to ensuring the solution is adopted by all involved. The solution should not simply be seen as useful but should also be pleasant to work with.

What will be the framework for the pilot project to prove the validity of the solution? What are the indicators of success?

The solution will be tested in the trademarks department, which consists of 21 people, including 8 lawyers, 10 paralegals, and 3 clerks. This group currently uses digital tools and, to a certain extent, constitutes an “early adopter” segment at Robic.

Indicators of success:

  1. Reduction in the approval time required from the issuing of the draft to the issuing of the invoice
  2. Facilitated collaboration and validation relating to the documents
  3. Speed with which the 21 people in the target group adopt the solution

The selected start-up must propose a realistic schedule for the pilot project.

What are the parameters and constraints?

The current software package allows us to export file data in XML format. To the extent possible, the start-up will have access to all of the raw data it requires to complete the pilot project.

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