What is “polish” and why is it so valuable to clients? Surely if the functionality is the same, the polish is just “eye candy”, but then, perhaps not. This article explores why polish takes so much time, yet repays itself hugely
I was once approached by a young man to provide one-on-one HotDocs training, unconnected to a particular consulting project. When I asked why he chose me over the vendor-based training of LexisNexis, he said, “BECAUSE YOU GOT POLISH”. I agreed, yes, I was Polish (my maternal grandmother was from Warsaw).
This got me thinking, what he really meant. I know that I take time and care on my consulting projects to make sure the end-user experience is a positive experience, and that I make sure that the templates are readable by the content provider. I also take care to make sure that the formatting and style codes in Word and WordPerfect are consistent. My background as an attorney has led me to be detail oriented and thorough, removing any ambiguities in anything I write.
What is “Polish”
Polish begins typically when the template automation is completed (except the way I work, which is to complete the interview development before the template is automated). The typical user, creates their variables, give them each an explicit prompt (typically a long one), and then groups them on a dialog, and is ready to go.
But that is the point where “polish” begins:
- Polish is redefining your prompts in context of the dialog to remove all extraneous words
- Polish is adding titles to dialogs, that may include variables, depending on the context the dialog is used
- Polish is using prefixes in variable names to indicate the dialog on which the variable will be found
- Polish is adding dialog scripts so that only relevant variables appear
- Polish is requiring select variables be answered and adding a rule in the prompt to indicate which unanswered variables are required
- Polish is adding additional text to a dialog that explains further how to answer questions or their implications
- Polish is laying out your variables in a logical and compact order that maximizes the value of the screen real estate
- Polish is thinking about the implications of unanswered variables
Polish is unnecessary … since the templates WILL assemble without any of this being done.
The Value of Polish
Polish is not cheap. Polish can take as long as the initial creation of the variables and their prompts. I have spents tens of hours on polish for clients. But this was money well spent. Polish does not make the “template assembly” faster. What it does do is make the document assembly “more accurate” because the user fully understands the meaning of the questions and their implication. The user will not put in bad data or be prompted to enter irrelevant data.
- The result is better documents: better because the right answers were given to the questions because these questions were understood
- The result is faster assembly: faster because the user only saw relevant questions and the user understood how to answer them
- The result is educational: educational, because the on screen help and linked help, plus the dialog and interview scripts guides the use as to both the relevant options and the correct answer so that junior associates and paralegals can create these documents with minimal training
- The result is more profits: profitable, because systems can be shown to clients to encourage them to send a greater volume of work to your firm, once they see the investment you have made in delivering them an efficient service
- The result is ancillary revenue: well built systems give the firm the option to offer the service directly to their clients or to market them as a commercial product to other law firms