FNV adopts all-in-one system for legal professionals for efficient and digital collaboration

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FNV, the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation, is the Netherlands’ largest trade union and looks after the interests of nearly one million members with respect to work and income. As an organisation that always puts its members first, FNV needs to be able to provide them with high-quality services. This has been a challenge for FNV since 2015, when four large trade unions (Abvakabo FNV, FNV Bondgenoten, FNV Bouw and FNV Sport) merged to form FNV as we know it today. It was a merger that brought a lot of benefits, but also had a few downsides. One such downside was the use of three different software systems for services such as legal support for members. Needless to say, this was not a very efficient way of working. FNV soon decided to implement a single system to improve collaboration between all employees and to ensure easier access to information. Carla Dijkstra, regional head of FNV’s Individual Interests (‘Individuele Belangenbehartiging’, IBB) division in Groningen, Paula Rehwinkel, regional IBB head in Deventer and Frank Swarte, Sander Schollema and Freddie Zuidberg, key users of the software, here describe the process commencing with FNV’s decision to switch to a single system and culminating in the implementation of Hyarchis Legal.

The challenge

FNV has two divisions: the promotion of collective and individual interests, respectively. “The new software is used only in representing individual interests, i.e. at the IBB division. The IBB division focuses on the individual interests of members when it comes to work and income. Given that we are the result of a merger of four separate trade unions, we suddenly found ourselves using multiple software systems. It was difficult to navigate these and it was almost impossible to share files. Plus, the systems were outdated. Plenty of reason, therefore, for us to switch to a single system that supports us in providing legal services digitally,” says Dijkstra. Before choosing Hyarchis, FNV compiled a longlist and subsequently a shortlist of potentially interesting suppliers. “We embarked on an extensive selection procedure in which we also involved users. They will ultimately be the ones using the software, so we wanted to take their preferences into account as well,” Rehwinkel continues. “Compatibility with our members system (CRM), our financial system, and in the future also with the court system were key requirements. We ultimately want to have a digital record of and for each member in the future,” says Rehwinkel.

Hyarchis and FNV

The IBB division’s day-to-day work consists in handling (legal) files. The employees handling member files have to deal with numerous documents from members on a day-to-day basis, which include letters, emails, court documents, and medical data. It was important for the new system to be able to support the entire file administration process, which includes the document flow. “Hyarchis was best aligned with our work processes, and we therefore opted, together with our users, to further develop the all-in-one Hyarchis Legal system for legal professionals, which we are now calling FNV Legal,” Dijkstra explains. At FNV, the transition from paper to a digital environment is a hot topic. However, going digital did not come easily to everyone. In the end, the idea is for employees to be able to work more efficiently and make it easier for them to take over tasks from each other. And this needs to be possible across all sectors. Paula Rehwinkel: “As FNV, we look after the interests of workers in different sectors. Where our employees used to only have their own ‘package or focus area,’ it is now easier for employees to work across sector boundaries.” At FNV, the process starts with the intake. The CRM system now automatically creates a file in FNV Legal, which is assessed by the work distributors and subsequently assigned to the right available handler. The handler in question then has instant access to the whole file, with the ability to add documents, monitor deadlines and send letters.

Implementation and collaboration

In November 2017, FNV began implementing FNV Legal. This was a phased implementation process, says Dijkstra: “FNV has six regional offices across the country and the software obviously had to be implemented at each one. We started by rolling out FNV Legal at one of these offices, then rolled it out at two more offices two weeks later, while the final three offices went live two weeks after that. We teamed up with Hyarchis and key users for a successful implementation and go-live. The key users are several colleagues (from all offices and with different job descriptions) who will actually be using the software. They test the software, are involved in training and support for colleagues, and play a role in further developing the systems, such as by specifying preferences and requirements.”

Sander Schollema is one of the key users who was closely involved in the project. He points out how important key user involvement is for an implementation process: “The main lesson for us as key users is that we need to ‘get behind the wheel’ of the new software at the earliest stage possible. During testing, we often stumbled on processes that turned out to be awkward to use. This could have been prevented if we, as key users, had been involved earlier.”

Hyarchis and FNV are still in close contact and still have meetings as and when necessary. Although the official project group no longer exists, new releases are still issued regularly. These releases cover high-priority issues that need to be addressed to make FNV Legal more user-friendly. “The transition from working with physical material to working in a digital environment is not only a technical one, it also involves a different way of working for lawyers. A lot of their work was still paper-based, but this is now changing, which will take some getting used to for some. Clear instruction and, even more importantly, continued communication are the key to success,” says Rehwinkel.

The future

FNV Legal has enabled the organisation to switch to a digital way of working at the trade union. All handlers can now communicate on one single platform, where all case details are stored and managed centrally. The software solution comprises an online working environment with modules for customer communications and document management. What’s more, because all documentation is stored in a digital file, lawyers and legal staff working for FNV can take over each other’s work when necessary. For the near future, a new members’ portal is high on the organisation’s wish list, so that members can also access their file and upload documents.