Peapod LegalOffice created MyCase software for high-street legal firms to manage casework collaboration. The company considered several hosting options, but chose to deploy MyCase as a cloud-based application on the Windows Azure platform. The development and business teams have found the software to be cost-effective and scalable. They’re now planning to create online versions of all Peapod LegalOffice products to attract more customers and increase revenues.
Peapod LegalOffice was established in 1994 and provided the first legal electronic forms solution for customers in the United Kingdom (U.K.). The software company’s flagship product—LegalOfficeLA suite—is used by 1,300 customers in the U.K., and has around 8,500 active users. PrintAForm is one the most popular components of the LegalOfficeLA suite, and is often purchased as a standalone product. Lawyers can download the latest versions of legal forms they need to conduct casework. Ian Wimbush, Partner, Peapod LegalOffice, says: “PrintAForm and LegalOffice address an administrative need for high-street legal firms that don’t usually have large support teams. We’ve got 1,400 forms and they’re always up to date. Lawyers just print them and send them to their clients.”
Recently, Peapod LegalOffice created a practice management application called MyCase, which provides high-street firms with digital communications tools to simplify case management. With MyCase—which is accessed through a web browser—all parties, including fee earners, lawyers, and clients, can post messages and documents on a wall on their secure, dedicated case sites. The application provides an easy way for lawyers to create cases, assign contacts, and produce letters and forms. It also ensures that key dates and tasks are recorded in one place.
Peapod LegalOffice considered its delivery options carefully, with one route being to host MyCase itself. “But we didn’t want to add ongoing deployment, development, and maintenance costs to the business,” he says. With on-premises hosting, customers would have had to set up virtual private networks to access the application. These are often time consuming and require outsourced IT support. Peapod LegalOffice wanted to remove the technical complexity from the product and make it as simple as possible for its customers to use.Solution
Peapod LegalOffice chose to develop MyCase as a cloud-based application delivered on the Windows Azure platform. The solution is hosted by Microsoft on its highly secure data centres, and comes with the Microsoft guarantee of 99.5 per cent uptime—this service-level agreement is passed on to Peapod LegalOffice customers.
By deploying the product on Windows Azure, Peapod LegalOffice made two significant gains. First, Windows Azure is financed on a per-use basis, so the business didn’t have to invest in its own hardware or hosting infrastructure. It pays for customers to use Windows Azure on a monthly basis. This cost varies, but Peapod LegalOffice can choose how to manage it in a way that suits its business. For MyCase, customers pay a flat rate per month, per user.
Second, Windows Azure development tools are similar to Microsoft Visual Studio tools, and it’s straightforward to transform existing applications into cloud-based applications. Microsoft Partner Dot Net Solutions completed the main part of the cloud development work for MyCase, but in the process transferred its knowledge and expertise onto the Peapod LegalOffice development team. This insight inspired the team to create a cloud version of its popular PrintAForm product after MyCase went live in January 2011. “We saw that it was relatively simple to do, and would cost us very little—just the time it takes for team members to consolidate skills and experience,” says Wimbush.Benefits
By developing MyCase and PrintAForm to work as secure, cloud-based applications for high-street legal businesses, Peapod LegalOffice has created new revenue streams. The software is easily customised to add functionality, and, as more customers become confident with using web-based applications, the business will continue to increase revenues through customer growth and low operating costs.
Quickly responds to market opportunities. Now, Wimbush and his development team are free to concentrate on identifying and responding to industry opportunities rather than developing hardware expertise. “With Windows Azure, we can focus our attention on creating competitively priced, high-performing applications that serve our target market. We don’t spend time thinking about or planning how we’ll test or serve a new application,” he says. Peapod LegalOffice can add functionality and update software through Windows Azure without disruption to customers.
Attracts customers and boosts revenue. “Around 300 existing customers use the online version of PrintAForm. And we expect the number of new customers to increase after we’ve completed a marketing drive for PrintAForm and MyCase,” says Wimbush. The pay-per-use model for Windows Azure means that Peapod LegalOffice has the freedom to change its pricing structure as required.
Helps customers reduce overheads and enhance productivity. Peapod LegalOffice customer O’Hara Solicitors—based in Hampshire in the U.K.—has reduced the time employees spend on casework thanks to MyCase. Sue O’Hara, at O’Hara Solicitors, says: “Our clients can download documents from anywhere in the world and return them to me. Our team spends around 75 per cent more time on actual casework now that we’re not wasting time chasing up documents. Ultimately, our cases are completed faster and we have more time for clients.”This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.