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3 Perceived Barriers to Relativity App Development (And Why They Shouldn't Stop You)

Sam Bock

Maybe you’re already sold on the value of building a custom application on top of Relativity. Maybe you’ve already built one. Maybe you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’re just a forward-thinker who isn’t sure how to plan for the work required after your idea becomes reality.

Whatever the case, the thought of building an app—especially if you haven’t done it before—might be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s simply about starting with an idea and creating a solution to automate or simplify its execution in Relativity. Most of the reasons we hear people hesitating to build an app are actually no hurdle at all, with the right help.

#1: You don’t have any idea what to build.

This is the biggest non-barrier of them all. Whether you’re with a service provider looking for new ways to differentiate your offering, a law firm trying to prove just how innovation-minded you are, or an in-house team trying to streamline workflows, there are opportunities to improve the way you work today.

You’ll go a long way in finding an idea and building a project plan by talking to your team—and your clients. Schedule some time to gather their feedback. Here are a few questions to ask right off the bat:

  • What workflow is painful for you right now, and what would the ideal look like?
  • What different systems are you moving data between for each project and why?
  • What small frustrations slow down your e-discovery projects?
  • Are there any workflows you use again and again, but need to set up yourself every time?
  • What are some gaps in the platform that you need to fill to set up a workflow?

How to Get Started: Consider hosting a hackathon—even a Shark Tank-style competition—in your organization. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the diversity of ideas from your teammates—and it’ll do everyone a lot of good to flex those creative muscles in a new way.

#2: You don’t have any development expertise.

With an open platform and a rich set of APIs, you can certainly build extensive, complex applications on top of Relativity. Some of our developer partners have delivered entirely new functionality, from translation plug-ins to contract analysis and matter management. (You can find all of that and more in the App Hub.)

But building on Relativity doesn’t have to be big. Sometimes, the smaller applications have the biggest impact on everyday work. Simply automating a common workflow or adding custom objects doesn’t require any coding experience or advanced IT resources at all.

And if you’ve got a bigger idea in mind? Relativity Custom Development Partners can help with that; just reach out and we’ll help you get in touch with the right team for the job.

How to Get Started: Read through our platform documentation for an introduction to all things development in Relativity. You can also dive into live or on-demand training to get your feet wet with some hands-on guidance from our team.

#3: You’re intimidated by keeping your application up-to-date and compatible with an evolving Relativity.

Truth is, there is some upkeep to Relativity apps. You must ensure the app delivers what your team and customers need over time and verify compatibility with the most current version of the platform.

RelativityOne is updated every month with the latest and greatest features. On-premises version upgrades are a project in their own right—and you might be reluctant to add complications.

Sure, manually testing your app with every update is painful. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The APIs make automated testing an option, so the time you would’ve spent verifying compatibility can be greatly reduced after a little setup.

In fact, moving past manual testing has business value in its own right.

“The time saved will help us provide seamless service to our customers by increasing the time we have available to identify and fix any compatibility issues with new releases of Relativity before they can become a problem,” LitSavant’s Tam Hatton-Brown, operations director, explained. “Automated testing will also save money—time is money, after all—and support the development of new functionality.”

A long-time Relativity Developer Partner, LitSavant’s Conformity Engine helps users take control of their workspaces by integrating logic rules into the coding process. With help from Milyli, and while piloting the new Relativity Developer Testing Program, the Conformity Engine team built a testing automation suite. As a result, their regression testing went from three days to four hours, and gives the team confidence in their code changes much faster. Of course, there is some upkeep for the automation suite as well, but the benefits far outweigh the drawback.

Tam has seen plenty of improvements for her team since joining the Developer Testing Program, which provides assistance from Relativity engineers in building automated testing for custom applications. The program is designed to help developers streamline their testing processes, saving time, minimizing error, and creating more opportunities for innovation.

“It’s not always easy to convince stakeholders that part of your development team needs to stop developing new features and instead spend time creating automatic tests,” noted Roberto Guerra, global IT development manager at Control Risks. The Control Risks team has created robust transcription and translation apps to help their customers move more quickly through their data, using their development chops to differentiate their service offering.

With automated testing, “On top of the time saved, we saw improved efficiency; higher reliability in the test results; and we’ve ensured consistency. Our testers are freed from repetitive manual tests, giving them more time to focus on delivering complex features.”

How to Get Started: Visit the Relativity Community to get more information about the Developer Testing Program, read proof points on time saved by other pilot users, and learn how to get started building your own automated testing.

Get Started with Relativity Developer Documentation

Sam Bock is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, and serves as editor of The Relativity Blog.

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