Optimise IP administration
Novagraaf believes that its consultants should deliver the best-in-class legal services, working in partnership with clients in order to build strong, collaborative relationships.
Novagraaf, a NovumIP company, is one of the world’s largest trademark filers and a major patent filer. With more than one million intellectual property (IP) assets on behalf of customers, it represents many of the world’s major patent and trademark owners. Founded in 1888, the company is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and has offices throughout Europe, including Brussels, Geneva, London and Paris, as well as in China, Japan and the US.
Novagraaf is continuously improving its services and adding value for its customers through innovation. This has resulted in many awards, such as consecutive recognitions as a ‘Top Tier Firm’ for trademark prosecution in the Benelux by Managing IP magazine and recognitions for its ‘Leading’ and ‘excellent’ trademark and patent expertise in France by the 2020 Leaders League rankings.
Due to the high volume of administrative tasks involved in the IP life cycle, such as billing and invoicing, consultants and paralegals risk being distracted from delivering added value to their clients. For the next step in improving its business processes, Novius Consulting Group, a company of Royal HaskoningDHV, helped Novagraaf to increase the efficiency of its Billing & Invoicing function.
The high occurrence of billing and invoicing-related administrative tasks is a result of the complexity of IP management. Novagraaf has an extensive client portfolio, ranging from large global businesses to small local businesses, universities and research institutes. All these clients have different billing instructions and preferences in how to handle their invoices.
In addition, Novagraaf provides a number of client fee agreements and manages a global network of national agents to perform local services in different countries. Delivering flexibility in billing instructions and fee agreements allows Novagraaf to provide the best possible service for each individual client.
However, all these different requirements need to be effectively supported by the firm’s internal systems and associated processes. This has resulted in a high level of customisation combined with manual effort from the business operating staff.
A roadmap to implement change
Novagraaf and Novius Consulting Group undertook a ‘time-boxed’ scoping project to design a streamlined and efficient billing process, and to create a roadmap to implement the required changes. During the project, all findings were evaluated based on the parameters of people, processes, systems and data.
The project kicked off with a two-week orientation period. Here, all people involved in Billing & Invoicing were interviewed. Based on their input, an overview was created of the current way of working and the associated issues.
In the orientation phase, three hypotheses to achieve a cost-effective billing and invoicing process were developed. Next, in the investigation phase, the issues were validated and related to a small group of root causes.
Moreover, a survey was created to quantify the time spent on the various activities related to billing and invoicing by all business users. This survey was used to guide the focus of the proposed solution and to justify the required investment in the business case.
After the investigation phase, the formulation phase started. Here, the first version of the future way of working (the proposed solution) was designed. This proposed solution was tested and tweaked in the feasibility phase.
A future way of working
High-level requirements for the proposed solution were collected from the business and validated with the project organisation and suppliers. Consolidating all findings, a portfolio roadmap with seven project streams was defined and approved by the board.
Now, Novagraaf is implementing the proposed solution, using the survey as a periodic measurement of its effectiveness. Several quick wins have already been achieved, while the first prototypes for the larger projects have been designed.
As a result of the three-month scoping project with Novius Consulting Group, Novagraaf has a clear direction of what needs to happen to reach its goals for billing and invoicing. All project streams are aligned, while the dependencies and risks of the projects are understood and mitigated where possible.
Most importantly, from the proposed solution it is clear and transparent how the project activities relate to the strategic goals. The project teams can carry out roadmap tasks autonomously, and in a lean and agile fashion.
Due to this project, Novagraaf is a step closer to reaching a streamlined and efficient billing process, helping consultants to build strong, collaborative relationships with clients and deliver best-in-class legal services.