Since the pandemic, many professional services organisations are (once again) paying attention to knowledge management (KM) as a discipline, especially as in a hybrid work environment, timely access to “knowledge” – in the truest sense of the word – has become essential for productivity. According to a Deloitte study, 75% of surveyed organisations said that creating and preserving knowledge across evolving workforces is important to their success over the next 12 to 18 months.
Several firms are revisiting their KM strategy to identify gaps and ensure that they are genuinely providing access to their organisation’s collective intelligence and knowledge to their professionals. With an eye on evolved KM requirements of their professionals, this is perhaps a good time for firms to assess what information and resources they already have access to, how their system is configured and how they can adjust their KM strategy so that it delivers against the demands of a remote and hybrid workforce across geographies – today and in the future.
A more sophisticated and mature search functionality will be fundamental to this kind of an evolved KM discipline. This requires going beyond the traditional approach to KM where the majority of the focus is on content classification and curation in the KM system.
Professionals in a hybrid work environment need to be able to intuitively access internal – and external – information at their point of need, within their individual day-to-day workflow. This requires KM leaders to broaden the scope of KM, and there are two approaches that are worth considering immediately:
Automating legal review
Speak to any lawyer and they will wax lyrical about the laborious, time consuming and tedious nature of the review process to ensure that the correct legal references are included in a legal document that they are working on. Without a doubt, legal review is a complex task. Lawyers have to ensure that they are quoting the most current references to the law in question in their documents. And it’s never straightforward – often, a particular law in one area may also be relevant in another area of law – so they need to assess relevance and applicability. The real challenge, however, is related to the part of the legal review process where they have to access the right references from the vast external repositories (comprising millions of live documents) published by the major legal publishers of the likes of Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis, Wolter Kluwer, Lefebre and so on.
Looking into how this external element in the process of legal review can be automated will greatly help remove the frustrations and challenges of this activity for lawyers. Automating the process of reviewing external legal repositories can provide lawyers with the ability and the processing capacity to interrogate in real time, the expansive and ever-growing storehouse of information made available by legal publishers.
Delivering Amazon-style search functionality
The richer the search functionality in the firm’s document management system (DMS) offered to lawyers, the greater the value of the KM discipline to them. Why? Because often, there is a vast amount of important, business critical information residing in organisations’ DMSs, as only a small proportion of content is transferred to KM systems.
Firms can significantly advance the search functionality from the perspective of KM, to take it to the next level – by using AI to auto-classify relevant, legal documents based on defined language and jurisdiction parameters – from across the typically millions of documents that are residing in their DMS. Thanks to the technology, this automatic classification in the DMS can take place silently in the background – using keywords and descriptors – and without the need for active human involvement from the KM department.
This approach will provide lawyers with content filtering capability to search results – much like the Amazon-style search capability – as opposed to a Google-like facility. In Google, if you search for a term, you instantly get millions of results, ranked based on the best matches in descending order. If a lawyer did a search using a labour law related keyword, they may surface 100s of documents, to then have to scroll down page after page, until they found what they were looking for. In Amazon-style search capability, on the other hand, they could surface the initial search results with a keyword, and then use the filters offered by the advanced search tool in the DMS to significantly narrow the search results and find the information or documents they are looking for more quickly and reliably. This kind of “smart search” functionality is the next frontier of search capability in the KM space.
Curated content in KM systems – pulled out from organisations’ DMSs – is no doubt the foundation of the KM discipline. But in an environment where remote working is the norm and teams are dispersed, evolving the KM discipline methodically to allow safe, secure, efficient access to live internal information residing in firms’ DMSs is fast becoming a necessary capability. The KM leaders who offer such capability are bound to win the hearts and minds of their lawyers, and indeed the latter’s buy in to the discipline like never before.
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