In any Formula 1 race, the best driver in the best car normally has the best chance of winning. But all sorts of external factors can affect the outcome of a race, such as the track type and the weather conditions. The difference between winning and losing often comes down to the extent to which a car can adapt to take account of those factors.
As someone who spends a lot of time driving to visit clients, I'd say I know my own car pretty well. I'll adapt my speed and driving style to the type of road I'm driving on and the prevailing conditions. When it starts raining I'll put my lights on and use the windscreen wipers. If the mist rolls in, I'll switch on the fog lights. These are pretty small adaptations for the circumstances, but there really isn’t much else I can do to make my road car more suited to the conditions.
Your lawyers may feel similarly limited if your firm runs an inflexible case management system. Just as each F1 track has unique elements that need different car capabilities and setups to help a driver achieve the best results — think Monaco street race compared with a purpose-built circuit like Silverstone — so too there's a world of difference between the characteristics of, say, a conveyancing and a probate practice.
Your case management system should ideally be flexible enough to support the unique requirements of each practice area at your firm. It will need to take account of, for example, the workflow that must be followed, the forms that need to be completed, and the integrations with third-party systems that make lawyers' lives easier.
Ready for whatever lies ahead
Of course, the characteristics of a race track (like the requirements of an area of law) are known in advance, allowing the team to prepare the car accordingly. But one thing the team can't control is the weather. However, a really competent team will be able to take full advantage of the prevailing conditions. It will adapt its strategies (such as pit stops and fuel management) and parts of the car (such as the tyres) to give the driver the best chance of success.
Law firms also need to be able to take account of changing conditions. Although the core conveyancing process may remain fairly static, an economic downturn could cause the property market to shrink. Equally, a regulatory change could open the door to a slew of new competitors in a key practice area, changing the business landscape. Your firm will do everything it can to evolve its business strategy to make the best of changing market conditions. And if your case management system is sufficiently flexible, it will be able to adapt to support that evolution — by allowing your firm to accelerate its process, perhaps, or move quickly into a new market, or develop new online or mobile capabilities.
When you reflect on your firm's case management system, what springs to mind? Are you stuck at the back of the grid with a system that limits your business? Or do you have a truly flexible solution that can be freely adapted to help drive your firm's winning performance?
This is part three of an extended blog Series by Simon Farthing, Sales and Marketing Director in the run up to the Visualfiles Share 2019 event.