As I was preparing for our VANTAGE EMEA conference being held this week in London, I spent some time thinking about where we’ve come as an organization since we were here a year ago. And since it’s a history that directly informs where we’re at and where we’re going, I’d like to reflect on our year as a preamble to what we’re announcing this week and what’s so special about it.

Across Elite, 2016 was really the beginning of a transformation for our business and a determined strengthening of its foundation. We focused on the things that customers needed and we improved in key areas to help us become a better and more worthy partner to our law firm customers. Our focus was on moving the needle in key areas, and I’d like to speak to two of them – customer advocacy and quality.

At Elite, customer advocacy is about putting the customer at the center of everything that we do. We knew that we had to deliver real changes organizationally to ensure that all employees made customer advocacy their priority. Under 20-year Elite veteran Patrick Hurley, we created a new Customer Advocacy organization. Patrick’s team focused on increasing our engagement with customers in multiple ways. Under his leadership, we have reinvigorated our regional and product-specific user groups and successfully re-launched the Elite Community, our social networking platform that is exclusive to Elite clients. We added full-time, dedicated resources to the team to maintain the Community’s platform and deliver new and continuous content to members. And we formed our Elite Customer Advisory Board, which has already been instrumental in providing counsel at a strategic level and across all business areas.

Product quality also was a top priority for us across all of our product lines this past year. We automated more testing, which means better and faster product builds, and fewer bugs with early releases. It also allows us to spend more time on complicated quality projects and innovations. Of course, it can’t be just about a better product, we also have to provide a better overall experience. To that end, we also introduced many new services offerings and training programs, and invested heavily in these teams to expand the types of services we provide to customers.

All of this is relevant to what we’re doing now and talking about this week in London.

On the first day of VANTAGE EMEA, we announced 3E version 2.8, and I’d like to hold it up as an example. It’s a great version that delivers many new enhancements. We also did a few things differently in creating this version that are entirely associated with our commitments to working more closely with customers and improving quality.

Standardization

2.8 has more than 175 enhancements to further improve the market-leading enterprise management solution’s functionality, performance and usability, and while this version of 3E is as customizable as those previous, the strategy driving 2.8 development included the addition of standard workflows, templates and reports.

All of these standardized processes are built upon common and well accepted practices, offering configuration options rather than requiring customizations. Our goal is to reduce implementation duration for new customers and lower the cost of ownership for existing ones – we want users to be able to take advantage of new functionality faster. So if a 3E 2.8 customer wants to create custom code for trust disbursement request, voucher payment approval, write-off approval, office account payment request, and proforma-to-billing capabilities, they can. Or they can save the time and cost associated with those customizations and use the workflows provided. The new version also provides a large number of standard templates, reports and presentations.

Partnership

Like many other new product initiatives across Thomson Reuters, 3E 2.8 was created by working directly with select customers. The firms – GableGotwals®; Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox; and Quinn Emanuel – were provided early access to the release. Working closely with the 3E product management and engineering teams, the firms provided valuable feedback to Elite which helped ensure the launch of a quality product. Both GableGotwals and Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox are live on the new version of 3E now, and Quinn Emanuel is moving into production with 2.8 as a result of their experience in the pilot program. I believe this speaks volumes to the quality of 2.8 to have three law firms take a new version into production in very short order and prior to it being generally available.

Firms are undergoing enormous pressure to be more efficient, so change is continual. By working closely with innovative customers, we can be assured that the product we release to the market will immediately benefit both current and new customers, saving time and money and helping to more quickly maximize their investment.

Across all of our products and underpinning all of our product and service programs, users will begin to see more and more opportunities to leverage standardized functionality, and they will also see their fingerprints on the new products and enhancements that we put on the market.

Eric Ruud is managing director of Thomson Reuters Elite