Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Communication for CRM Success Part 2: Why Should Attorneys Care about CRM?

Human nature dictates that we all tend to do things that are in our best interest. This is especially true in the context of technology adoption in a law firm. For attorneys, time is money, literally, so they are not going to waste any of their precious and limited time doing things that they don't consider important. This means that to drive CRM adoption in the law firm, first you have to make them care.

Why should lawyers care about CRM? Well, first it’s important to communicate why the firm cares. What was the vision and what were the primary reasons behind the decision to invest a significant amount of time and money in this technology in the first place? Back in the day, the old standard reply would have been, “Because all the other firms are doing it.” But I’m betting that answer is not going to cut it with most lawyers anymore. Today, you may need to provide some more persuasive reasons such as:  
  • Reducing costs and enhancing efficiency
  • Improving communication, coordination and Client service
  • Minimizing repetitive or redundant processes
  • Identifying and leveraging business relationships
  • Increasing business development success

Once you have communicated the firm’s “mission statement” for CRM success, all of the altruistic attorneys in your firm should soon be lined up outside your door volunteering to help make the rollout a success for the common good. Yeah, right! Perhaps they may need a little more encouragement …  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Communication for CRM Success Part 1: Effective, Ongoing Communication

Whether you are rolling out a new CRM system or trying to enhance the adoption or participation with your current system, effective communication is key. At most firms, you've really got to talk it up. In some firms, you may have to shout it from the rooftop.

Communication has to be both effective and ongoing because CRM is not simply a rollout, initiative or a project. Rather it’s a fundamental change – and improvement – in how the firm manages the most important assets it has: its relationships. Firms that think of CRM this way are always more successful. 

The first message your end users need to hear, of course, is why CRM is important for the firm. Even more important though, they need to know what’s in it for them. No matter how dedicated a group of end users you may have, if there is no benefit to them as a result of using the CRM system, getting adoption will be challenging. OK, I know, a couple of you may be asking, “What if my law firm is not filled with compliant, tech savvy, early adopters who take direction well and are always eager to spend time on fun things like CRM?” Well, if you don't have the luxury of working at the Fantasy Law Firm, communication will be even more important.

So what kinds of benefits might we be talking about…? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Outsourcing Options and Opportunities - Part 3: Law Firms in the Outsourcing Business?

Outsourcing is defined as the contracting out of an internal business process to a third party organization and, as such, it has been a common and accepted business practice for a very long time. 

By that definition, could it also be suggested that law firms themselves are in the outsourcing business? If you think about it, many companies have plenty of in-house attorneys and/or legal departments that can adequately service most of their corporate legal needs. But in many cases, it makes more sense for them to hire outside firms or attorneys  because they have deep knowledge or specialized experience in niche areas or because they can do some types of work more efficiently. 

While this may be a radical concept for some, it shouldn't be such a radical concept for law firms to consider partnering with other providers who are also specialists with niche expertise and/or who can help them to develop business, gain a competitive advantage or provide more efficient and effective services to their corporate Clients... 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Outsourcing Options and Opportunities - Part 2: The Evolution of Law Firm Outsourcing

The goals of outsourcing include improving efficiency, reducing costs and gaining a competitive advantage. As a result, it shouldn't be too surprising that law firms have been experimenting with outsourcing for decades, according to some sources as early as the 1960s. The most common legal services that law firms have attempted to outsource have been agency work, document review, legal research and writing, drafting of pleadings and briefs and patent services. Firms have been even more open to outsourcing their non-legal work such as IT support, finance and accounting and helpdesk operations.

As a result, companies hoping to capitalize on these trends have established themselves in several countries including India, the Philippines, Israel, China and Latin America, among others. This type of outsourcing to countries outside the US has been termed ‘offshoring.’ The offshoring of legal services has met with mixed success due to obstacles such as language barriers, time differences, quality concerns and ethical issues.

More recently, a new trend has developed. Sometimes termed ‘onshoring,’ a few large law firms with bases of operations in high-cost major metropolitan areas have begun relocating a variety of their back-office or support operations and employees to less expensive US markets with lower costs of living and wages as well as access to communities of potential new hires. Some firms have even created new tiers of lawyers such as 'career associates' in these markets. The evolution of legal outsourcing  will likely continue because it clearly can provide benefits for firms - when done correctly…   

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Outsourcing Options and Opportunities - Part 1: Outsourcing Can Make Your Firm More Competitive

A recent article in the ABA Journal proclaimed, “Boom years for law firms were an aberration.” The article quotes information from a 2013 Client Advisory report from Hildebrandt Consulting and Citi Private Bank which predicts that the double-digit rate increases that occurred from 2001 to 2007 are over.

As proof, the article summarized information in the report confirming that “productivity is down among income and equity partners, expenses are up, clients are demanding and getting discounts.” As a result, future law firm success will likely be measured by “profit growth in the single digits.”

To succeed going forward, the article suggests law firms are going to have to do things like develop a growth strategy, practice good leadership, focus on key Clients, practices or industries and seek Client feedback. (I would add, “act on it!” to that last one.)

These are all radical concepts, I know. But the article also suggests that, to stay competitive, firms may need to rethink their business models to focus on efficiency, and to do this they may want to consider their outsourcing options.

This makes perfect sense. How many tasks are the firm’s key marketing and other professionals currently working on that are keeping them from their most important jobs of crafting and executing the firm’s strategy and helping the attorneys to develop business? The good news is that now there are some options to help law firms save time and money – and free up key staff members for more important and strategic pursuits… 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Your CRM Journey - Part 7: Rest Stops

Sometimes, when you are trying diligently to get to your ultimate CRM destination, the temptation can be to really ‘put the pedal to the metal’ and try to get there as quickly as possible. The problem is that when you do this, you may end up running out of gas before you get where you want to go– or you may find your team’s motivation levels 'on empty.'  
So slow down there, lead foot. CRM isn't a race. It's not about getting to the finish line as quickly as possible – especially since the journey is never really finished. CRM isn't a project or an initiative: it’s a fundamental change in the way your firm manages and leverages relationships. It’s a tool you will utilize well into the future to improve firm communication and coordination and enhance business development. So give yourself a break.

It’s important that you take a few rest stops during the rollout to get your bearings. Things sometimes change along the way that you may need to react to. New challenges or opportunities develop that were not anticipated when you originally planned the trip. Potholes may appear in the road. There may be mountains or valleys that you didn't anticipate during planning. When these things happen, you can't accelerate through them. Instead you need to pull over and just break out the roadmap again so you can plot a different route. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Your CRM Journey - Part 7: Points of Interest

While focusing on your ultimate CRM destination is, of course, important, it can also be beneficial to check out the scenery along the way. You need to take a little time to smell the CRM ‘roses’ and relish your successes to ensure the journey is sweet.  

There are a lot of points of interest that can be…well, interesting. You may even want to plan in advance what sites you want to see. Think about what made you want to embark on the journey in the first place. What were your goals for this journey? What landmarks did you hope to see en route? Where did you hope to end up?

For instance, are there certain levels of adoption you want to reach? Are you interested in improving mailing lists or event management? Do you hope to be able to identify a certain number of relationships to enhance business development? Do you need to improve data quality as you move forward?

All of these are sites worth seeing. And when you arrive at one of these important points, you will want to memorialize the achievement by sending a postcard, so to speak. Communicate the successes with others at the firm to let them know that you have all worked together to reach a crucial milestone.