“Finding the right place to begin with your first digital transformation project”- An Interview With Edward O’Rourke, CEO and Partner in the Corporate Commercial Team, Ashtons Legal

Edward O’Rourke is the CEO of Ashtons Legal, a forward thinking law firm in East Anglia who have recently entered the implementation phase of their first digital transformation project.
We met with Edward to learn about his experience so far, how they will be judging the project’s success, and how they selected where to begin with their digital transformation journey.

Question 1 – What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your Digital Transformation journey?

“I think Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence, the terms are quite widely used and they mean a whole host of different things, and it’s very easy to get cluttered and clouded by a whole variety of things. I particularly found a whole host of service providers were trying to sell their solution, and squeeze a square peg through a round hole.”

Question 2 – How are you measuring success?

“With this first project we’re looking at, effectively, ways to clean data efficiently. What we’re doing is looking at a process that will cleanse our data to take away the mundane, routine tasks that otherwise have to be dealt with by humans, tasks they don’t enjoy doing. That will be our first test to see how that could cope with that task.”

Question 3 – Aside from financial, what benefits are you expecting to see?

“We’re expecting staff morale to go up for a start. They’re gonna be required to do less of the mundane, routine tasks and focus on the interesting tasks. We’re hoping for process efficiency, again, the software robot won’t require holidays, sick pay etc or work 24/7. Greater accuracy is the other thing we’re looking for, again, the robot is less likely to get tired and therefore make mistakes.”

Question 4 – How did you choose the project that you started with?

“For us, what we wanted was a small, scaleable project. Something easy to manage, something that was quick to measure so that’s what we looked for. Something that if we needed to we can scale up afterwards and something that was a relatively low cost entry point. You can spend a lot of money on some technology solutions and we have done and when they don’t work well, there’s a lot of pain to go through. So starting small, scaleable and something that would be a benefit to our business.”

Question 5 – Did you encounter much resistance internally, and, if so, how did you counter that?

“There was some resistance internally. I think headlines in the press and Stephen Hawkins talking about how robots are gonna take over our jobs and destroy the world, that sort of thing. There’s a lot of emotive statements going in the headlines and the moment you say ‘Well, we’ll bring the software robot to do a task’, people are all ‘Who are you looking to make redundant?’ So we change that by actually pointing out the tasks the robot was going to do was the mundane that nobody wanted to do. We pointed out that that’ll actually free up their time to do other things, pointed out how to increase accuracy and efficiency, so, in the end it was easy because we chose relatively straightforward tasks for this first project, it meant we could sort of sell that one relatively easily to the staff.”