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Business systems support
Working from home due to COVID-19 has amplified the need for healthy and well-maintained business systems
Over the past two decades we have witnessed law firms evolve from their intensive, manual-based business systems to the digital world for entity management, matter inception, time and disbursement capture, billing and accounting requirements, reporting, analytics and other means of communicating information to name a few.
Efficiency benefits from this evolution is evident today ... that is, when such business systems are working as they should. When business systems aren’t working as they should, the working day can become unproductive with the flow-on effect quickly costing the business the efficiencies gained.
Business systems support has become crucial to the smooth running of business to keep it mobile. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified this with most people required to work from home, placing more dependencies on the business systems to keep them working productively.
Business systems support needs to be easily accessible and the availability of ‘follow the sun’ support for global and national law firms is paramount. The communication network to ensure information is shared easily is equally important while people are forced to operate in isolation.
The world over, one of three configurations for business systems support teams is adopted: an internal team, an external team, or a hybrid team with complementary expertise. The best fit for any business is primarily determined based on scale and cost. A smaller law firm may be unable to sustain the cost of an internal team and therefore engaging an external team maybe a better fit. A larger law firm may be able to justify the need for a sizeable internal team due to the volume of users and higher demand for support. When a vast amount of business systems is required to keep the firm operating, regardless of its size, the internal team is unlikely to have the full knowledge and expertise required therefore the engagement of the hybrid team is often the appropriate solution.
It is the business systems support team’s responsibility to resolve issues arising and ideally mitigate such issues before they occur. Common responsibilities for such support teams include:
Acknowledging and resolving simple queries or escalating complex issues to subject matter experts where necessary to ensure the users can continue with their business-as-usual activities;
Providing reporting solutions when standard reports do not meet the business requirement;
Correcting system imbalances to ensure data integrity and confidence in financial information;
Cleansing non-financial data to ensure the data makes sense and its relevance is maintained;
Assisting with the introduction of new business processes, compliance and related business system changes; and
Updating business systems to ensure the latest functionality and features are available for use.
Many of these responsibilities require continuous attention to maintain data quality. As the value of business is often measured on performance, incorrect data can lead to poor decisions, missed opportunities and reputational damage. The negative impact of poor data will often outweigh the cost of maintaining such data.
In light of the pandemic, and the financial impact this is having on business, confidence in data has become even more critical to the business decisions that need to be made in the future. What is the cost and risk to your business when your business systems are not working as they should?
If you need any assistance with business systems support, let’s connect.
Simone Wheaton, Business Consultant, Harriss Wagner Consultants and Advisers