Lawyers are struggling to make big decisions in this uncertain economy. The most difficult are often the most important and at the minute a lot of firms are frozen in the headlights, feeling unable to move. But it’s more important now than ever that decisions which will improve the performance and competitiveness of your business get made and actioned now. The best way is to develop a meaningful “business case” to evaluate cost, returns and payback period, carrying this through to your bottom line if a) you stay as you are and b) if you introduce changes. Then you have a sound basis for making a “go” or “no go” decision – and to explore the financial impact of changes to the initial plan. Not enough firms take this measured approach – but Thursfields did.
Inpractice worked with 13-partner Worcestershire based Thursfields in the review and strategy development process which has led to Thursfields’ £250,000 investment in a new integrated IT system supplied by SOS which, the firm believes, will directly assist its ongoing growth.
Richard Blasdale and Allan Carton of Inpractice worked with Thursfields on the firm’s strategic IT development, quantifying the business case to justify this key investment, setting out the spec and evaluating responses; also starting the process of preparing the people for the changes ahead. The new solution will provide enhanced document, case, practice and client/marketing management systems across Thursfields’ three Worcestershire offices employing some 114 staff.
The deal comes at a time when firms are increasingly deferring or cancelling projects because of the current economic gloom. But Thursfields’ managing partner Nick O’Hara and the Management Board concluded that now is a good time to introduce improvements in efficiency and operations to build for the future provided the investment could be justified:
Nick O’Hara explains the timing and need for the investment: “Thursfields is growing and with that comes the need for expanded IT solutions which will allow all our staff to run centralized data, document management and workflow systems for clients. This will help maintain our focus and commitment to delivering an ever better service and support to clients, meeting their needs in the professional, approachable, efficient manner clients expect from Thursfields. In today’s current climate, these factors are more vital than ever,” he added.
The implementation of the new system and roll out to the Thursfields’ offices is targeted to go live May 2009.
Quantifiable key benefits across the practice included productivity improvements for fee earners; reduced workloads, improved cash flow and debt management for finance; efficiency gains for marketing and HR; increased rate of client acquisition; enhanced corporate standards and compliance; greater system resilience and reduced operating costs.
Inpractice worked with key personnel in the practice to evaluate potential suppliers and products on a like-for-like basis (which is never easy from the understandable varied formats and included / excluded / missing items in responses from suppliers) using the Inpractice scoring system to make decisions rational and easier.
Inpractice’s Allan Carton was impressed with the commercial approach Thursfields took: “Like all other law firms just now, Nick and his colleagues were very aware of the uncertainty of the current economic climate. Partners don’t want to spend money; but if it makes good financial business sense and you can show a return on investment and bottom line benefits within an acceptable period, they will. The relatively short payback period coupled with hard and fast practical gains across the practice were sufficient for Thursfields to enable them to make and justify a difficult decision, letting them move forward with confidence.”
For more coverage of the impact of this major move for Thursfields, go here:
If you are considering improvements in your use of IT systems, please contact Allan Carton (email@example.com or 07779 653105) or Richard Blasdale (firstname.lastname@example.org or 07976 416999) of Inpractice for a no-obligation discussion on your plans and options.