An increasing number of law firm mergers are taking place with the end goal being to enhance law firms’ global presence, reach and brand. Often, these mergers take the form of a Swiss Verein structure, which impacts how merging firms’ CRM systems can be used; and in turn business development and CRM teams and even the new global user base.
If your firm has moved to a Swiss Verein, from a CRM perspective, there are four key areas you should focus on:
If any of the entities within the Swiss Verein use the same CRM software, or if you intend to standardise the software across the Verein, you should get in touch with your CRM system provider to discuss the impacts on your licence, support and maintenance agreements. As mentioned in a previous blog, licences are not transferable between Vereins and new licence keys may be required.
Under a Swiss Verein, participating firms are still separate legal entities, so data between them cannot be shared without the appropriate data sharing agreements in place. From a data protection point of view too, your clients and contacts will need to be advised of any changes to the way in which their information is used and shared.
Once the contractual and regulatory requirements have been addressed, then comes the issue of the technology used, although it’s important to note that in reality, these are not separate discussions and all impact each other.
There will be many systems involved in the merger, but don’t forget the importance of merging your CRM systems. To take advantage of the strength of the collective entity, you need to be able to communicate with your clients and contacts at a global firm wide level; and share important relationship intelligence between the different entities. Assuming that the different entities of the Verein all have their own CRM systems, the question that you are then faced with is: to merge not or to merge? (with apologies to Shakespeare).
The approach taken with merging other systems such as practice management, HR and data warehouses will impact your ability to consolidate the CRM systems into a single source of intelligence. Ensure that CRM is included as part of the wider software discussions.
4. Change Management
Don’t forget that managing your users’ expectations, training and rollout are hugely important elements of merging systems. Ensure that you have a well thought out plan that is tailored to the needs of individual teams and groups right from the start, so that you are able to take employees on the journey and they can see the value of the exercise for them.
As you navigate your way through the merger, bear in mind that in the long term, instituting common business development processes, client structures and an aligned CRM strategy will be valuable to the collective entity – but in the short term, devising an interim solution to keep the business functioning could be a practical approach – until the goal of a global CRM infrastructure can be achieved.
These are just some high level considerations, and numerous options are available to firms towards achieving a global CRM infrastructure in a Swiss Verein structure. If your firm is involved in a Swiss Verein arrangement, talk to your InterAction account manager/client advisor for practical and executable guidance.