Tuesday, January 20, 2015

CRM Success Steps and Strategies - Part 2: Analyze Needs and Set Expectations

Research tells us that, too often, CRM implementations fail to meet expectations. What they don't often tell us is that too often this is because those expectations were wrong. Before buying CRM (or any other) technology, make sure to set proper expectations for success. The best way to do this is with a CRM success assessment. Take the time up front to interview key stakeholders and get their input about how the CRM could help them. These should not be conversations about features and functions. This should be a dialogue that explores ways in which the technology may be able to help the firm and individual attorneys with things they care about like solving problems, improving processes, reducing costs and developing business….

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

CRM Success Steps and Strategies - Part 1: CRM Success is Possible!


Yes, you read that title right. The words ‘CRM’ and ‘success’ were just used together. That’s because whether you are rolling out a new CRM system for the first time at your firm or trying to enhance adoption of an existing system, success is possible!

But that doesn't mean CRM success is simple. You can't just install the system and expect clients to line up at the office door with bags of money. In fact, compared to other technology implementations, CRM can actually require extra effort because (ideally) the attorneys actually use the system. Also, even though the ultimate goal of CRM is to make things easier, some initial work is required. All this makes having a strategy even more important. On the road to developing your strategy, it can be helpful to follow a few steps that have helped other firms achieve CRM success….

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…