For as long as there have been legal technology suppliers, there have been supplier user groups. With technology moving at an ever increasing pace, one of the longest running such organisations, the Axxia Systems User Group (ASUG), confirms that they have never been more important – or more buoyant. Axxia has just reported the highest user group subscription levels for five years; while delegate numbers at the company's recent National User Group AGM were only just short of the Millennium bug fuelled high of 1999.

ASUG chairman Jill Wiseman of Porter Dodson believes the increase in interest is attributable to two distinct factors. “Firms are realizing that they are entering a more challenging commercial era and I think they are finding comfort in sharing that experience with others. Our user group meetings allow for a lot of networking and exchange of ideas, problems and experiences and there seems to be a strong collective spirit going forward. Some users just want to make the best of what they have already got, others are keen to press on with Axxia's new web-based dna* application – what unites them is the common cause of needing to be competitive, needing to be profitable and needing to leverage their particular IT investment to the full. 

“The second factor is that for more than a year, Axxia, the user group national committee, and I have made determined efforts to ensure that both users and Axxia were getting the most from the initiative. Feedback had suggested that interest was on the wane as a result of agendas that were too sales oriented and too Axxia dominated. We therefore spent time redefining the user group on 'for user by user' lines, where agendas are driven by user interests and we are free to cover any topic. Axxia has taken on the role of facilitator and has been happy to back and resource any business or IT-related issue or workshop, Axxia specific or not. The only criterion for inclusion is whether it’s something that the users will find useful.  

“As a result we've run more meetings and seen better attendance; new faces coming for the first time, old faces returning and a much healthier dynamic overall. We carried this for user by user ethos through into this year's AGM, where the agenda items were specified largely by clients and we kept the emphasis on roundtable sessions, small and inclusive briefings and plenty of time for networking. The consensus on this year's event was that it was one of the most enjoyable and productive AGM's for years, which really speaks for itself.

I am hugely encouraged by the growing enthusiasm amongst users and I'm convinced that the user group will continue to play a critical role as we move into the post-Clementi era. It's not just about hearing what's new or attending workshops and seminars, it's about coming together with others and working collaboratively to help us meet the challenges ahead.”

ASUG has its own website at www.axxia-user-group.org.uk and membership enquiries can be directed to Jill Wiseman at jill.wiseman@porterdodson.co.uk