LexisNexis sharpens Agile approach to ‘delight customers’
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LexisNexis sharpens Agile approach to ‘delight customers’

Mark Chillingworth — June 2019
LexisNexis, a market-leading provider of legal databases, is applying Agile methods to both drive customer satisfaction and ward off lawtech start-ups. David Espley, CTO of its UK and global platforms, describes how a ‘continuous delivery platform’ for software is reshaping the business.

“We are in the business of empowering legal professionals to do their job in a successful and profitable way,” says David Espley of LexisNexis.

As CTO for the UK and the company’s global platforms, he oversees an IT backbone that gives law firms worldwide access to 2.5 petabytes of legal news and information spread across 109 billion documents. It also provides applications for case management, customer relationship management, practice management, electronic disclosure and identity and background verification.

LexisNexis’s customers are becoming increasingly demanding as they seek ever-more efficient ways to provide their services, which is presenting opportunities for new low-cost digital challengers in the market.

To respond effectively to this threat, “the IT group has to enable the business to be fast and efficient,” says Espley, adding that the overriding goal is to “to delight our customers.”
Waves of delivery

As a company that provides data and software as a service, LexisNexis’s strategy for achieving this has been to move away from big-bang software updates and adopt a model pioneered by consumer tech giants such as Apple and Google.

“We have moved to a continuous delivery platform, with weekly updates. It’s a better way of working and great for building customer relationships,” Espley says.

This  approach has enabled LexisNexis to maintain a dialog with its clients, which is proving crucial in its fast-moving market. It helps the business to understand — and, in some cases, anticipate — what customers will need from it next.

David Espley, CTO UK/Global platforms, LexisNexis
“If you don’t know the customer, you’re flying blind,” says Espley, who believes that clients are reluctant to walk away from a provider that is highly attuned to their needs and will quickly develop products and services to satisfy these — despite the appeal of cheaper offerings from rivals.

With the in mind,  Espley’s team uses advanced analytics to track how subscribers are taking up new features. “We are constantly running experiments and watching how these services are used,” he says.

The continuous delivery model means that a client rarely has to arrange “big-bang training,” where a major software update means that users needs to be taught how to use a radically different system, says Espley. “Small, rapid changes don’t affect the day-to-day workflow of our customers,” he says, “so the incremental approach benefits both sides.”
Agile culture

A long-standing advocate of the Agile approach, Espley believes it is more of a cultural philosophy than a project management method. The idea of “empowering people to make the right decisions quickly” was what started the whole movement, he says, and that principle is important to bear in mind. “So, when you have great people, always assume that they’re doing the right thing at the right time with the information they have to hand. The whole point of Agile is to get things in front of people to make commercial decisions.”

That approach has made his department integral to ensuring that every new product and service offered by LexisNexis creates business value. “We are front and center of any program, collaborating across the business,” Espley says. It is all about the technology team becoming “outcome-focused.”
First published June 2019
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