Tag Archives: SaaS

6 practice development topics you will want to read … and share with some of your colleagues.

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, Nick Holmes, Delia VenablesThe latest issue of the Internet Newsletter from Infolaw is now published.

In this issue

  1. Continuing Practice Development – Nick Holmes explains the changes to CPD being implemented by the SRA and the BSB
  2. Data protection – David Flint of MacRoberts considers two recent developments relating to data protection and trade secrets
  3. Customer care – Mindy Gofton of I-COM looks at the potential of using chatbots for customer service
  4. IT security – Lynda Minns considers the measures independent practitioners need to take in relation to IT security
  5. Cloud-based legal software – Delia Venables describes the products from 30 suppliers offering cloud-based software for lawyers
  6. Data protection – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words introduces the new General Data Protection Regulation

Access the Newsletter online

Business Analytics and Reporting to help you run a better law firm – Bi24

C24, Wright Hassall

Improve the performance of your legal practice – fill gaps in the capability of your practice management system.

CASE STUDY:  Wright Hassall, solicitors implemented Bi24, which is C24’s business analytics and reporting solution for law firms, connected to Wright Hassall’s key data feeds across management reporting, practice management systems and marketing applications.

The Outcomes:  Easy access to data and insights has changed the way teams work at Wright Hassall, providing users across the entire organisation from Managing Partners to support staff with the ability to perform ondemand, self-service reporting whenever they need to. Data can now be pooled between different applications to drive greater insights across work in progress cases and ensure better returns on investment for marketing activities.

One of the most important developments is the ability for the firm to create dynamic client facing dashboards that assimilate information into one place; showing the client’s current billing position, work in progress, outstanding payments due, hours worked and activities undertaken. This enables Wright Hassall to keep their clients up to date and provide them with regular reporting so that they are aware of payments due, which is increasingly important in a post-recession era where maintaining healthy cash flow is a business reality.

Additionally, Wright Hassall are now able to extend their reporting capabilities out to customers of their clients, for scenarios where updates on legal matters are required to be reported to a client’s wider customer base. For instance, Wright Hassall can provide reporting via portals to the tenants of their property management clients with updates on tenancy agreements, disputes and queries. This enables Wright Hassall to differentiate itself by becoming a data services provider to its own clients, in a way that suits the business models and growth objectives of its key client base.

IT Director, Martyn Wells, highlighted the change in the business through the introduction of better reporting practices. “Data is now driving behaviours within the firm. When partners are creating their forecasts and business strategies for the year, they are now proactively seeking out data insights from the Bi24 tool to inform their strategies”, commented Wells. “We are also seeing how better reporting through Bi24 can allow us to stay competitive in an age of fixed price fees, enabling us to continually assess costs and margin positions for better business decision making. Data is now supporting us in achieving our ambitious growth targets.”

DOWNLOAD a copy of the full CASE STUDY REPORT here >>

For more information about other proven technology solutions that can improve the operation of your business, contact Allan Carton at Inpractice UK.

Hosted IT for a small startup law firm. Some advice today ..

Hosted IT services in the Cloud“We don’t actually provide the hosting service but advise firms on the options and help with the transition.  I’m happy to give you a couple of contact names to get this info direct from the suppliers we think would be the easiest options for you as a small start up as they would quickly understand your requirements and have solutions ready and waiting.

There will be other options though.   Be wary of just making a direct cost comparison between hosted and on-premise solutions as there a lot of softer benefits (admin, management, hassle, holiday cover, flex options to working remotely, disaster recovery etc. of hosting) and some risks (control and resilience of comms lines into your office in particular, retention of some local admin support) you need to take into account in the value equation too.

It would probably be worth meeting and running the proposals past Frank Manning here to make sure they really match your requirements and to get his tips on making sure it all goes smoothly – maybe half a day of input from him would cost you about £425 plus vat and expenses, so let me know if that could be of interest.  I suspect it would be money well spent at this stage to make sure you are on the right track.”

And … let me know if you need anything else in setting up the practice.  Jon Miller would be good to get the finances set up,

Allan Carton

How good to not fret about IT – today's experience

I just got back to the office before lunchtime today to find that I couldn’t access our CRM system, which sits pretty much at the centre of our business, but is hosted off site with all the rest of our applications.  Inconvenient, but I can relax because I know there is a team already working on it.  More resource with more expertise and clout with suppliers to address this problem than we could ever expect to muster with an in-house team. The interim report back …

“HP are continuing to work with our engineers on this issue.  Essentially … [outline of the problems] … there are two lines of work being conducted to restore services as soon as possible for each customer.  We have an HP engineer on site and two HP engineers who are known as HP best dialled into the SAN from Japan and The Netherlands.  These engineers can see what is causing the [problem] and are working through three steps to try and bring the drives back on line …  in parallel we have a separate team of our own infrastructure engineers who are configuring a new file cluster and have initiated [ outline of steps being taken as a fallback].”

We all know IT breaks sometimes – so how good it is to be able to relax and know that I can be assured it’s going to be  up and running again within a reasonable time.  The issues and resolution may not be as straightforward as they suggest, but they have a big incentive to get this all fixed very quickly

I’ve got plenty more work and business to get on with, so that’s enough for me and I don’t need to fret!

Allan Carton

Microsoft reaching deeper into legal practices

Click on the images below to watch two informative videos from Microsoft, which cover a lot of ground, presented from the US, but it’s happening in the UK too.  They show you some of the innovative tools that more lawyers could be adopting to support their efforts to improve internal operations and to develop stronger relationships with clients, business partners and introducers of business.

If you don’t have Microsoft Silverlight installed on your PC, there is an option to view this as a .wmv file

Allan Carton

Hosted IT – "Do it, but learn from experience"

Over the past 2 years, we have generally advised all clients reviewing their IT that they should at least explore the option of using some form of hosted IT. Some have decided to make the move to hosted; others decided against. This article provides direct candid feedback about the experience – warts and all – from some of the users in law firms (from 6 to 150 users) who chose to make the move. How it has gone, whether they recommend it, what they would do differently and plans for the future? 

In their own words – These summaries of conversations with senior people in each legal practice are a fair reflection of all our discussions. They paint a consistent picture of their experience overall. In essence, most say that there were inevitable issues that it took time to address; also that there is a tendency not to prepare quite enough, both on the part of the legal practice and the supplier. However for all of them, the business benefits have been justified in spite of the challenges they have had to deal with in making the transition.

“I didn’t want to spend a lot of capital up front …some teething problems, but there would be whatever changes you make on IT … one loss of connection in 8 months that stopped us working for ¾ of a day but worth it for the other benefits … access for the accountant cuts their costs to us … more flexibility in how we develop the business … easy to grow a virtual office… more remote working … 24 hour support … disaster recovery … no doubt we will stay hosted, although we may want to get more dedicated support as we grow, which will cost more but make good sense … convinced me to look at other outsourcing options to enable us to focus on doing the work and developing the business … yes it was the right decision for us. (c. 8 people practice, moved to hosted 1½ years ago.)

“Staff were pulling their hair out … printing was a problem for 2 weeks … digital dictation was a challenge but has been resolved as things have moved on … if we did it again, I would insist on more pre-planning on implementation but [the supplier] does that now anyway … we would have communicated more to our people about what we were doing … we now use everything hosted and wouldn’t do anything else … just added CRM … know exactly how much IT will cost … we can control costs at £x per person … we don’t have to take on and manage IT people … link performance of the business to costs … just renewed our contract … yes it was the right decision for us.”  (c. 150 people practice, moved to hosted 2½ years ago)

“It was the right decision … there were problems at the beginning though that have been resolved … fee earners don’t have the downtime we had before … not sure about the cost, but there is more competition now, so we will look at that on renewal … it has enabled us to focus on training our people to use the system … we may still look at other suppliers though on renewal … yes, we would recommend it.” (c. 150 people practice, moved to hosted 2 years ago).

“[Moving to hosted was] Like flicking a switch … went well … we should have briefed the staff to help them better understand the concept of how it works … I can’t explain how important the disaster recovery solution it gave us is to the business now … not using VoIP as there are still some issues on quality when being used by over 10 users, so we use other solutions and I am sure this will be resolved in the future … yes, we would recommend it.”  (c. 40 people practice, moved to hosted 3½ years ago).

Conclusions

All the practices we interviewed were happy with the decisions they made and satisfied that they have got it right for their business, but that doesn’t mean they all found it easy.

Experienced suppliers now appear to have adopted better routines to manage the move and have learned to anticipate the pitfalls – making it easier for the firms that follow in the footsteps of the pioneers. These early adopters have however benefited from making their move early; so they are now better prepared to extend their use of their systems faster in the future, having already gone through an important pain barrier.

On the other hand, the firms who decided in the end not to go for a hosted IT solution are all equally satisfied that – having explored the options – they made the right decision for their practice for now, although most would be willing to revisit this on their next major review, when solutions have developed further again.

Allan Carton

Can smaller Legal Practices collaborate successfully?

A Major North West Initiative

The challenges that lawyers currently face have been created not just by the changes being introduced under the Legal Services Act, but also from the lasting impact of the recession and the continuously changing expectations of clients, who are seen to be increasingly demanding.  But then, we all probably expect more for less these days … because it is often possible.

Inpractice UK is just about to launch a research project (working in partnership with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Manchester Law Society, the North West Regional office of the Law Society and the North West Development Agency), which aims to help small(er) legal practices with up to 50 people operating within the 10 Greater Manchester Local Authority Areas (for starters).  It will help lawyers who currently feel that the survival of their business is under threat, want to do something about it and see potential to collaborate with other legal practices as a possible way forwards. 

Getting to Grips with the Challenges

The conventional way in which many small firms currently operate, with limited resources and investment that limit innovation cannot be sustained as margins continue to get tighter. Continue reading