While we, and most importantly our clients, were very happy with the new NDA system, my honest conclusion was that we had collectively accomplished something that was effective but not particularly innovative. Having the privilege of working closely with software development and support teams, it was obvious that we had, in fact, merely emulated the basic software support model.
In the world of software, the first line of support is always to write good code that is well documented for the end user. By writing quality code, you greatly reduce the need for support. By providing end users with quality documentation, you enable them to do some degree of self help should any issues arise. For my purposes, let’s call the combination of good code and quality documentation Tier 0 support.
The next level is usually Tier 1 support in the form of a general help desk or e-reporting system. The typical functions of Tier 1 support include capturing the details of the end user and the issue and providing that end user with certain general information (such as advising them of a related data centre outage). In the case of a help desk, the support prime might also address some general matters (such as ensuring that the software is being used on a supported computer and operating system).
The next line of support, Tier 2, is typically handled by software professionals who have knowledge of both the supported software and the software and hardware that it normally interacts with. One of the key roles of Tier 2 support is fault isolation and identification – a major challenge in a complex multi-vendor world. If the issue is either general in nature or the result of the interaction of the software with some other system component, the Tier 2 professional’s broad skill set positions them to address the issue. If, on the other hand, the professional determines that the fault is internal to the supported software and not within their skill set to tackle, the matter is sent on to Tier 3 support.
The Tier 3 support level usually involves either the authors of the software or a professional with a deep code level grasp of the supported product. The resolution of Tier 3 issues usually consists of some form of work around, often in the form of a bug fix or patch, that may be incorporated into the next release of the software. In other words, Tier 3 support is the level of deepest expertise since the “buck stops here”!
Applying this software support model to the BNR NDA system, it is pretty obvious that we simply collapsed Tier 0 and 1 support into the portal itself and tasked our wonderful paralegal to provide Tier 2 support to its end user. This them allowed us to position the two BNR lawyers to do Tier 3 support for our clients on an as needed basis.