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Extracting more value from your practice management system
The practice management system is a necessity in a law firm’s business and continues to play a central role in helping to manage client relationships. Investing hours in the administration of client relationships rather than investing time in developing client relationships may provide some form of satisfaction however it offers little to your firm when it comes to bottom-line profitability.
If you are being prompted by a high volume of administrative effort to produce bills, obtain simple matter information to make business decisions, or can’t quickly report on a matter status to fulfill your client contract obligations, then you might need to take a closer look at the root cause. Challenges may also be experienced with retaining millennial lawyers who expect to work with contemporary technology so that their focus remains on the legal work in need.
If you are still reading, then we might be on the same page.
We recommend investing in an evaluation of your system to determine whether it stands up to today’s needs. Some simple evaluation measures may include, is your system:
supporting modern work practices such as digitised workflow, automation and mobility?
operating on a robust platform or are costs increasing through excessive management?
managed under adequate security protocols to mitigate cyber threats and the likes?
able to scale and is aligned with the firm’s growth trajectory?
accommodating the growing expectations of the millennial lawyer and the demands from your clients for quick matter-related information?
entering into a sunset period with finite software vendor support?
The thought of replacing a practice management system is daunting for most. An evaluation can guide you towards establishing whether the firm needs to invest in replacing your practice management system, or for a fraction of that cost, you may only need to introduce some smart updates that will extend the system’s life.
So, what can be done?
The answer to that question is a topic of keen debate. Many have taken the journey perhaps in addition to your firm with a prior legacy system. There are multiple experiences (good, bad and ugly) shared across the world. Over the past two decades, we have been fortunate to develop new insights into what works well and what does not as technologies change.
We have learned that many have not placed enough emphasis on setting up their system with optimisation in mind during the implementation phase. Too often we hear “we just wanted to get it working with our current practices and then we would fix it once we are up and running”. The oversight being, there is often no budget for post implementation fixes, project fatigue sets in and there is little motivation to continue. In some cases, changes cannot easily be made retrospectively without the right know-how and another extensive budget. Poor data integrity issues, inaccurate reporting and limited system integration opportunities are known issues. Subsequently, the system carries unwanted legacies throughout its life cycle with its true capabilities buried beneath the surface waiting to be unleashed. And, unfortunately, return on investment expectations become a myth.
The art of extracting more value from your practice management system is to see what you are not easily obtaining from your system and doing something about it. If you would like to learn more about your options, we would love to hear from you.
Robert Wagner, Managing Partner, Harriss Wagner Consultants and Advisers