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LSSA and LSC trying to be friends

The Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) has announced an agreement with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) to govern how changes in LSC policy will be communicated to – and implemented by – LSSA members.
 
“I think that it's fair to say that the LSC has not always prioritised the impact of change on software vendors. Any changes in policy – including those which might seem relatively minor to the LSC – will potentially have a big impact on software providers,” said LSSA chair Dominic Cullis. “However, following a recent Working Group meeting with representatives from both organisations, we are feeling much more optimistic about the LSC's ability and willingness to keep its promises with regard to how future changes will be rolled out to members of the LSSA.”
 
A key element of this newfound partnership rests on the formation of this Software Vendor Working Group, a body which will help to create a formal channel for two-way communication between software vendors and the LSC. Cooperating at this level will allow the LSC to hear the views of software vendors first-hand, and to take account of these concerns when implementing change. The Working Group will also ensure that a representative range of vendors will now be brought into discussions at an earlier stage in the planning of policy implementation.
 
“We are very much aware of the impact of change on LSSA members, and recognition of this issue has reached the top level of our organisation,” said  John Binks, Head of Provider Readiness at the LSC. “The Provider Readiness Team has implemented a sign-off procedure for all change requests where an impact on vendors is likely. This way, we can take the opportunity to seek the views of vendors on proposed changes, gain a better understanding of the impact they may cause, and factor that into the sign-off process. With this approach, we can ensure that the LSC understands the impact of change on software providers from the beginning, and factor into our plans proper provisions for making technical information available to vendors, along with sufficient time to prepare for change.”
 
According to LSSA, even trivial changes can have a big impact on software vendors, as suppliers will need to review and understand the new specification, write and test the new code, make any necessary design changes, communicate the changes to clients, distribute the updated software, organise additional training, and then respond to any queries they receive about the changes from clients. As such, following the most recent meeting of the Working Group, both sides have agreed that any changes affecting case management software will only be requested by the LSC for implementation at two set dates in a year, in April and October. Furthermore, the LSC has promised that a clear description of the transitional arrangements – as well as requirements for access to old data – will be supplied, and that software vendors will be provided with all appropriate changes in reasonable time to allow for the development process.

4 replies on “LSSA and LSC trying to be friends”

..and then I woke up from my fabulous dream where there was no recession and everyone got along with everyone else and the LSC gave all suppliers 6 months notice of the changes they require.

Wasn't there an incident last year when the LSC announced changes on a Friday that were due to come into force the following Monday. Gee 72 hours notice. And the Civil Service wonders why all its own IT projects end in disaster.

It hasn't been unknown for them to publish details of an amendment for completion the previous week.

It is to be welcomed that the LSSA have an agreement with the LSC and whilst I don’t want to pour water on their bonfire I wonder if we could actually see the terms of this agreement or is it, as I suspect, just an acknowledgement from the LSC that they will try and do better in the future.
If it is the first then Dominic and the LSSA are to be congratulated. I am intrigued to know what the penalty is if the LSC don’t adhere to the agreement. Do they write to all lawyers saying something like “we recognise that the changes we have asked cannot be delivered by members of the LSSA in time ……”
The LSC have said they want to worker closer with vendors on several occasions and then ignore us completely. I hope that things will be different this time round but I won’t hold my breath.

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