Post by Simon Farthing |
Management information (MI) and reporting takes the third spot in the priority list for C-level executives and Heads of IT and Innovation in law firms for 2021, a recent survey revealed. It’s prudent, given the external and internal pressures the executives face.
External pressures from a reporting standpoint are well understood. In-house counsel place clear metrics on the law firms they work with, and want to know, often in real-time, the status of project milestones and budget, the risks the department is dealing with, the corporate’s business exposure, and more.
Perhaps less understood is the internal pressures that the C-suite faces, and it’s likely that the pandemic has exacerbated the burden, due to the absence of impromptu updates and corridor conversations. With a distributed workforce, and lack of formalised MI and reporting processes that are suited for a hybrid environment, it’s hard for firm leaders to confidently understand what aspects of the business they accurately know about and where the gaps in their knowledge exist. Do they have visibility of the status of every project, the matrix of resources available for new business, risk and exposure on all cases, the corresponding financials and so on?
The true value of MI and reporting
The real value of MI and reporting is the unique insight that it can provide to “delight” clients by being more effective in the advisory process. A conversation with a client along the lines of “Our data tells us X, have you considered making Y change to better achieve your end goal? – would be powerful and impressive. Firms can use the data to demonstrate ‘price to value’ of the services provided, proactively to pre-empt future issues.
Another use case is to help improve legal outcomes for customers. Take litigation. Based on historical data (as opposed to human experience), a law firm can be more predictive on outcomes – generally a case like X, is likely to take six months, cost £20-30K and in the majority of such cases, the claimant is successful.
For business decision-making too, say for fixed fee work, MI data can help to accurately estimate the cost of providing specific services profitably utilising historic data – as opposed to costing based on what competitors in the market are charging, even though it would make the piece of work unprofitable.
Likewise, a conveyancing firm could potentially help the firm to convert a “loss leader” to profitability. Data shows where the firm is most effective and where transactions and fee earners may be losing money through experience or poor process. They have identified the problem, and so now can find the solution.
Embedding a data-driven culture
To embed a data-driven culture in the firm for reporting, it’s best to start with the areas that will deliver the most impactful results. Time recording and budget tracking is a good one. Lawyers habitually record and track against budgets, it’s important for client awareness and timely payments. However, this process provides data insight from a single system in isolation, not across all the systems. A lawyer may have spent two hours working on a client document in the document management system, three hours progressing the case in the case management system and so on. So, establishing processes that assimilate all the data will provide important information – how much time was spent on addressing a specific client request, creating an important legal submission? and so on. Over time, such information will provide vital insight into the quality of legal services the firm is delivering.
Equally, identify where the widest information gaps exist. For instance, what is the kind of information that is generally requested by clients – do they ask for reserves? Outcomes? Changes in value? This can help determine the specific processes required, in which business systems and the tools needed to capture the information.
In fact, there are many Microsoft tools in this area, such as SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and Power BI. These can help assimilate data from different sources, make connections across them and paint an accurate picture of the business. With Microsoft Azure, there are rich tools that enable you to analyse your data and draw further insights.
All this capability and more can be leveraged from within Lexis® Omni, a flexible technology platform that powers optimised legal service delivery for any legal services organisation. To give a simple example of its capability, say a Partner is looking at a particular specialism they offer and realises that the system isn’t capturing the complexity of that case type. In Lexis® Omni, the business can add the ‘complexity’ field in the core system and literally within minutes, the field with corresponding data is applied across all transaction types enabling it to be reported on almost immediately. Processes can be built, and data can be capture quite literally with a few clicks of the mouse.
If MI and reporting capability is a business priority for you, please get in touch with us via email@example.com. We would love to understand your requirements and propose an approach that fits your needs.
This article is the second l blog in this three-part blog series.