Hayward Baker care about the impact today’s world has on the environment.
So our ICT Department was set a mandate. That mandate was to increase efficiency to provide a first class personal injury service to our client’s but also to reduce costs and our impact upon the environment. Read the rest of this article to see how we achieved our aim using ICT technology.
Like many businesses, the initial brief was to keep costs down. However our team perceived that something needed to be done about saving resources and reducing waste. It was anticipated that legislation may one day force us to take a more environmentally friendly approach. We therefore resolved to develop a strategy taking the initiative from one day.
Rob Tonks (ICT Manager) has previously worked as a paralegal. He was therefore fully aware of the demands of clients and how paper-orientated and slow moving, the claims process could be. He also understood the ICT business needs of the Firm. James Lowley is a university student studying computing. He has bought in a refreshing array of, “green” ideas and skills. Working together, they developed a practical, efficient and environmentally friendly approach.
Scanning and Emails
All incoming post is scanned into the system. This in itself will not reduce paper usage. However, all our staff and approved visitors having access to Proclaim, can view a scanned document. This alleviates the need for multiple copies. Electronic File Imports
Our costs draftsman import files electronically from numerous instructing solicitors. No paper file is created and there is no carbon footprint for delivery and return of files.
Prompted by the new RTA Claims Process, to be implemented on 30th April 2010, we identified File View as a system that would allow agents/clients to access our database in a secure and managed way. By allowing access to interact with our case management screens, agents/clients can complete online documents preventing the need for more paper documents to be sent out. This reduces our carbon footprint and speeds up the data collection process in a cost efficient way.
With a client’s consent, we try to further reduce our carbon footprint by utilising text messaging as far as possible. We can use this for short communications or to direct clients to complete a form or documents through File View.
We also have the facility for the client to respond to us with a text message. This immediately goes into case tasks on the client’s electronic file creating an instantaneous but environmentally friendly line of communication.
Any employer in the 21st century must anticipate staff will need the flexibility to work from home periodically, especially staff with young families. We also have members of staff who work at home on a permanent basis. This allows us to reduce office space, use less heating and lighting, and reduce travel. Remote users connect to the office via a Virtual Private Network. All they need is a low spec PC and broadband internet.
As we had a definite requirement for home workers and to allow them full use of the telephone system, we again needed to reduce the costs and consider our environmental commitment.
To get the right balance we had to keep the need for technical equipment to a minimum. We therefore considered what the latest technology could offer. We decided on Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). This allowed us to run different types of traffic on the same network faster, such as the ability to carry data audio and video simultaneously.
What was born out of MPLS was the ability to have one telephone system for both office and home users. This allowed us to have one domain Controller, Exchange, file and print server, backup server, firewall, and internet broadband for browsing and one for VPN access which was also scalable to be shared between multiple offices. The environmental impact is extremely low. We estimate we have been able to significantly reduce power usage and reduce emissions not to mention the carbon emissions used to travel to and from the office from home.
The computer systems we use are mainly Hewlett Packard. They are registered producers under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2007. This was important to us as it contributes to a national fund that assists Councils to further develop their electronic waste facilities. Hewlett Packard are open about what chemical substances are used in their products and are always trying to improve the protection of human health and the environment.
Our PC’s are built from bare bundle kits thus reducing the need to purchase all new components when upgrading. Older parts are recycled into newer/higher spec PC’s rather than becoming landfill. The PC screens are energy efficient. PC’s are set to hibernate after 15 minutes of inactivity. Power settings are often ignored but used wisely can significantly reduce a carbon footprint.
The mandate for Hayward Baker Solicitors ICT Department was to develop an IT infrastructure to increase efficiency and deliver a first-class service to our clients, reduce operating costs and our impact on the environment. We are proud to say we think we have done it! Further, we are committed to continuing to look for environmentally friendly initiatives going forward.