Why law firm management information needs specialists (and why PMS vendors are not specialist enough)

Management-Information-Systems

Earlier this year I shared our insights on how to create the best law firm management MIS, built up over many years of working with SME legal firms to develop bespoke management information systems. Through this process, we have honed in on everything that a law firm MIS needs to do to give practice managers everything they need to run their firm efficiently, productively and profitably. In the article, I described some of the reasons why most law firms’ practice management systems were setting them up to fail. (Read it and find out why here.)

To design and develop a management information system for law firms requires the bringing together of two spheres of experience and knowledge:

(1)  Business intelligence and information technology specialists who can conceive and build an effective MIS system, and

(2)  Legal industry professionals who understand the specific needs and challenges law firms, how their businesses are run, what kinds of information that it is valuable to report on, who in the firm needs to see what information and how it should be displayed to encourage positive behaviour change

Business intelligence specialists

The approach of non-legal sector business intelligence specialists typically involves starting with a blank sheet of paper. As BI specialists don’t bring a detailed knowledge of law firm requirements, this would normally involve working through the long process of looking at a firm’s business plan, identifying KPIs, speaking to everyone in the firm who would use the MIS and mapping out all their requirements, before going on to design, build and test a system that meets these needs. The process can take a long time, and require everyone at the firm to dedicate a lot of time to the project, both in the planning and the testing stages, to ensure the MI system met the needs of all its end users.

As general business experts don’t bring any domain knowledge to the solution, their focus is very much on ad hoc analysis rather than repeatable easy-to-use information for day-to-day law firm management.

Law firm PMS specialists

The other option is to work with law firm practice management specialists who understand how law firms operate and what their management information needs are. This might be the law firm’s own IT team. But (and especially so for small and medium sized firms), this often means working with generalists who will likely have a good broad understanding of the firm’s operational system requirements, but who won’t be management information system specialists.

Because they don’t specialise in MI, these teams or consultants don’t have staff concentrated on that requirement. It is simply not feasible for IT generalists or PMS vendors to maintain as much up-to-date knowledge about MIS innovations and best practice as those who dedicate 100% of their time to designing and building management information systems. Unless someone works every day in a particular field, their knowledge will always lag behind that of someone who does.

In terms of products, a key part of management information is the context and the business rules. These are things that come from your MI system, not your practice management system. The latter is about running operations, not about recommending the best course action to promote future business success.

Law firms may be torn between these two alternatives, with pros and cons for each.

But there is a third option…

Legal sector management information specialists

Katchr designs and builds management information systems exclusively for law firms. We bring a huge amount of legal sector domain knowledge. Our SmartEye system was designed in collaboration with law firm managers, and over many years working with law firms, it has evolved through many different versions – each one improving the system based on direct feedback from the firms we work with.

The result is a system that now meets, out of the box, up to 80% of client’s requirements, representing all the things that we know every law firm needs. The remaining 20% is tailored to individual firm requirements. This saves law firms huge amounts of in-house time on both the design and the testing stages normally associated with a new MIS project.

We are also dedicated to staying on top of all industry developments, both in IT and legal practice. Through our regular communications with all our law firm clients, we gather feedback from them that we use to make improvements to our software, so all of our clients benefit through system updates.

We are able to share best practice among clients, so they can learn from their peers and the ongoing focus and development we are doing in the legal sector.

If you’d like to have a chat with us about how we could help your firm, contact us by email or call 0845 6806 843.

 GM

Blog post by Graham Moore, Managing Director, Katchr

 

 

Law Firm Practice Management System and Business Intelligence expert. Managing Director of Katchr.

If you’d like to discuss how large or small law firm software and legal financial reporting systems could help you run your practice more profitably, please give me a call on 0845 6806 843.