The remote practitioner
24 June 2020
In the current climate, IPs and their teams have become wholly reliant on technology to drive remote working practices. Access to printers, post, paper, people and physical hardware is limited. The concept of the digital IP, documented in the February edition is now accelerating at an unexpected pace. What should IPs be focused on now to make life easier in lockdown and, more importantly, how can they prepare for the uncertainty ahead? Leveraging the best current and compliant technology solution is critical in keeping the wheels in motion. Taking steps to automate and fully adopt a remote, paperless, streamlined operation needs to start now.
The virtual, compliant office
The basic key components of an efficient, digital insolvency office are a case management tool, a document storage/management system and a collaboration tool such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Since lockdown, we have seen unprecedented changes in legislation to support the remote IP. In terms of case management, Turnkey has kept its Insolvency Practitioner System (IPS) entirely in sync with continuous updates. These include EAS CAU forms, VAT forms, changes to ERA limits and the ability to store IPs’ signatures securely for use within Companies House and AiB electronic forms.
HMRC’s 9 April announcement notified IPs that receipt of dividend payments should now be electronic. This is another change requiring quick deployment, which IPS caters for through banking routines already in place with all the major clearing banks. This means you do not have to manually post each payment to HMRC separately through your e-banking platform, as IPS can create, send and record the payment file for you. Automating manual processing is critical now, particularly if workloads rise and increasing staff headcount becomes challenging.
IPs must quickly adopt continuous change to their case management software to realise the benefits of the constant updates currently filtering through from regulators and key stakeholders.
Not being able to send physical post is a challenge for all IPs. Turnkey have partnered with an electronic post service, Postworks to print, envelope and post – all for less than the cost of a stamp. Utilising experts who have developed affordable technology is essential in reducing unnecessary risk to staff as well as driving operational efficiency.
The virtual, secure platform
A consideration for remote working is how to maintain and care for key systems while allowing secure, reliable, robust remote access and scale as your business needs it. The answer is ‘the cloud’. Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services – including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence – over the internet (the cloud). Handing over the entirety of your infrastructure to a hosting provider is a big step, but one many other industries have engaged in successfully. Placing the support, maintenance and upgrade process in the hands of a reputable specialist supplier will give you the comfort that your teams will have full round-the-clock access to systems with minimal downtime or outages. In addition, the security and backup of your data will be managed effectively and in line with industry governance.
Turnkey is evolving its current IPS case management tool to a fully cloud hosted ‘Software as a Service’ platform. This means the delivery of the software will be centrally managed and continuously updated based on business process change and functional improvements. This ‘on-demand’ software model will give IPs the flexibility to customise business processes, integrate with in-house software and benefit from the ongoing investment to drive automation and digitisation into their own practices.
The virtual, managed meeting
The virtual, collaborative online method of sharing documents with key stakeholders forming part of an insolvency process has been around for several years. To put into context, since January 2018, IPs have recorded £28bn of creditor claims using IPS, which includes £70m in the last 18 days of lockdown. Twelve billion has been lodged directly by creditors using the paperless creditor portal. Uptake is dramatically increasing given no one wants to receive or send post. The cost of processing a creditor claim manually via traditional printing methods, dealing with multiple telephone queries, adjudicating and distributing is estimated at c £30 per claim. IP firms that are now wholly delivering this service via the creditor portal are saving thousands of pounds by simply pushing the administration process online. Simplifying the stakeholder communication process and driving engagement has major benefits for both IP and creditors.
In summary, here are five key steps you may want to consider in transforming your fully digital remote working office:
- Set up a taskforce or nominate a staff member who is interested and can drive the digital agenda of your business. Start small and identify quick wins.
- Evaluate any processes that require significant manual human interaction. Consider how best to achieve automation either through use of a case management tool or by adopting simple electronic workflow.
- Consider simplifying your technology infrastructure by investigating cloud hosting.
- Evaluate electronic banking practices with your case management supplier and bank.
- Get rid of unwanted paper! Use this as the opportunity to go paperless.
Turnkey are at the heart of the digital insolvency evolution, with strategic alliances to banks, stakeholders and hosting providers coupled with in-house insolvency expertise. Leverage our deep sector knowledge to help shape your own digital journey during these unprecedented times.
Darren White is operations director at Turnkey.
Deborah Baxter is commercial director at Turnkey.