Law firms are businesses, regardless of size -- from solo and small firms, through medium and all the way to Big Law. Firm owners, managing partners, and staff must think like business people and understand how the firm can be successful:
- What can you do to improve client experience and cash collections or your firm culture, including individual timekeeper performance?
- What technology will your clients demand?
- What systems and processes do you need to be efficient?
- How can you use technology to attract more clients?
These same questions apply to other professional services and all businesses.
Today, we use technology in our everyday lives. Almost every professional has a smart phone. Consumers and clients all demand efficiency and more for less. Technology can be an attractive solution for law firms; however, it is critical that technology decisions are based on the return on cash invested in the products and systems.
Returns are measured in additional revenue or cost savings depending on the project goal. It’s important to assess the IT infrastructure and determine how your approach can save you time and money or generate additional revenue.
From your company website to your core applications, make it simple for clients to contact you or buy your products. Review the number of steps required to join or purchase your products. Simple and easy-to-use websites translate into faster sales and therefore, more revenue.
Cloud technology not only saves you money by avoiding any capital investment, it also allows for access from anywhere on any device at any time. If you are concerned about security, using a private provider like Abacus Private Cloud allows for a fully integrated virtual workplace. The cloud is also scalable and flexible to business requirements. As many tech experts like to point out, cloud-based hosting is one of the few items that has steadily decreased in price over the past years.
Data is a valuable commodity - and “data mining” can give critical insights into your customer buying patterns. Investing in analytics for your website and therefore being able to target advertising dollars will increase your top line. However, it is now a matter of ‘when’ a data breach will occur as opposed to ‘if’ your data will be hacked. Cloud-based hosting and systems will help with compliance and response to any attacks.
The inexpensive cloud has allowed many software as a service (SaaS) companies to launch and replace expensive enterprise installations. These SaaS applications solve pain points for many administrative tasks like document signature and appointment automation. These solutions are (usually) cost effective and reliable. Read the terms and conditions carefully before you sign up and understand the packages and the cancellation policies.
SaaS systems are available for customer relationship management (CRM), sales pipeline, accounting, project management, knowledge management, key performance indicators (KPIs) and anything custom for the vertical’s workflow. For example, in legal, there are legal practice management systems, like AbacusLaw, that provide a workflow management platform that includes accounting, timekeeping, and billing plus integrates with email, calendars, and even generates some legal forms.
All this technology can improve revenue and decrease costs, but if you are not careful, you may end up with too many systems that are not working together. For example, some CRMs integrate with email platforms, allowing emails to automatically populate the customer’s record. Many project or workflow management systems also integrate with email plus the major online storage platforms like Dropbox.
The key is to develop an overall plan for your systems that will either maximize the integrations or buy systems that have all the necessary features bundled. In certain verticals, there are systems that include accounting and inventory, or in the case of professional services, timekeeping and budgeting.
Technology does not solve all problems. If there are business issues, first look to the root cause using metrics and evaluation. Once the issue is uncovered, evaluate whether human or technology resources are required. Establish a project budget and analyze the implementation results regularly to review the solutions’ performance.
By: Mary Juetten
Mary Juetten is the CEO and Founder of Traklight.com, a software platform that allows inventors, creators, and businesses to identify legal matters, including Intellectual Property (IP), and provides a plan to secure that IP at a fraction of the cost that would have been paid to in person providers. Please visit the website at www.traklight.com