Our team at Infoware is made up of experts in each of their fields. Whether it’s software development, managed services, or quality assurance, we have a specialist for it.
Meet our Senior Manager of Software Development, Jonathan Yam. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on legal technology, best practices for our clients, and what to do when rebranding.
Describe your job in a few sentences.
My role at Infoware is to lead the software development team. My team is engaged in supporting and enhancing existing products, as well as helping to develop new solutions.
My job title is Senior Manager of Software Development. In addition to managing the day-to-day activities of the team, I’m also very involved in writing code, troubleshooting issues, and working closely with our clients.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I like solving problems. More specifically, I like solving problems in a way that makes a difference. In the context of software development, that often means finding a way to enable people to do things faster and better, or to empower them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do easily.
In order to accomplish this, you have to understand the “why” and “how” of people’s computing habits, which I find to be a fascinating process of discovery.
What is the most common question you are asked about software development?
Most clients will ask if it’s possible to do a specific task; other developers will ask what our software actually does.
But most commonly I hear people say, “But it’s just Word.” This usually comes from people who use Microsoft® Word more as a typewriter, rather than taking advantage of all its functionality. Word provides a simple platform for editing and using templates; however, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes activity that goes into making it integrate with the features of Word LX™.
What are some best practices you recommend to clients?
I think it’s important for clients to decide on a set of standards for how they want their documents to look, especially client-facing documents. Consistent branding and visual identity play an important role in building any business’s credibility.
Once you have established a standard, it doesn’t mean you can’t change it later, but it acts a guideline that all firm members can use for creating documents.
Why are templates so important, as well as a template management system?
Among our client firms, there are many document types that get created repeatedly. This can include letters, memos, or documents specific to a practice area, such as agreements.
When I think about what the most important tasks are for our end-users, it’s not the formatting and layout of the document – it’s the content. By providing a template management system with predefined templates, end-users don’t have to look around for the template they need, and they don’t have to waste time trying to get the formatting and layout just right.
They can focus on the content, and with just a few clicks they can generate new documents that are consistent, no matter who created it.
If a firm decides to rebrand, where should they begin?
We’re not usually involved in a firm’s rebranding work until close to their go-live date – usually because there’s an assumption that updating the branding in Word templates is simple.
And while the degree of difficulty isn’t high, it’s more complex than simply changing the logo in the templates. Requirements often change during the lifecycle of the rebranding project, which leads to multiple cycles of changes, testing and approvals.
Rebranding sometimes means a change in usage of branded elements, so there could be adjustments that need to be made to underlying automation.
What are some things firms usually forget when going through a rebrand?
I’ve worked with many firms on their rebranding projects and I have a few observations:
Many rebranding projects are driven by the firm’s desire to update the look of their website, which is an important starting point. While many logo designs can look great on a backlit monitor, other media (like paper) need to be considered.
Most firms only consider their paper-based letterhead. The reality is that rebranding usually affects other aspects of their visual identity, including electronic letterhead, document layouts, fonts and styles.
Our products are Windows-based. I’ve seen projects where the firm decided to change the font for their documents, and their graphic designers selected a new font that is not part of Windows. That’s fine if you’re only going to print documents and mail them, but when you send a letter by email, the recipient isn’t going to see your letter in the way you intended.
When a firm is about to start rebranding, I’ve often been told “it’s just a matter of swapping out our old logo with our new one.” In my experience, it’s never been just this!
Are there any features of Word LX™ that you think are underrated/under-utilized? If so, what are they?
Beyond the basic document creation and editing tools available within Word LX™, I want to highlight a few features that not everybody knows about:
Microsoft Word is notoriously unwieldy when it comes to numbered paragraphs. Our numbering tool, 1Point1, removes the frustration involved. You can create, modify and share frequently-used numbering schemes without hassle.
If you want to repurpose an existing document without accidentally saving over the original, you can do this through our New Docs template management system. This means you don’t have to reinvent the content, and you can reuse something you might have created previously for a similar purpose.
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