Thomas L. Rowe and JoAnn Hathaway led a session titled Practice management software from agony to ecstasy and a quick poll of the audience at the beginning demonstrated representation from firms of all sizes – including a substantial population of attorneys working at firms with 100 or more lawyers. The session defined practice management tools, described the differences between premise-based and cloud-based solutions, made the case for practice management, and finally, finished with tips for implementation.
Docketing is one of the features that separates LFPM from standard email calendars says @tomrowe #ABATECHSHOW
— LexisNexis BLSS (@Business_of_Law) March 27, 2014
With premise-based solutions, you own the software and the data which means you choose the timing of any upgrades — and you are not dependent on an internet connection to use it. From the presenters standpoint, premise-based solutions tend to be more robust, have better 3rd party integration and tend to have more customization options.
The speakers defined cloud-based practice management as any software application that requires an internet connection to use it. Cloud tools tend to be sold on a subscription basis, so the expenses are predictable and the starting cost is lower since no hardware investments are required.
Whether a firm chooses cloud or premise for law firm practice management, the presenters made the case for why a law firm needs such a system in four succinct points:
- Efficiency. Handle more work with the same or fewer staff.
- Rigor. Codify business process and protocols.
- New business. Improve client acquisition and client conversion.
- Analysis. Better business metrics for evaluating performance.
The speakers ended the session by covering these tips for implementing solutions:
- Change management. Effective use of process tools requires training.
- Stepping stones. Training should be implemented over time rather than conducted all at once.
- Systematic integrity. Uniformity is critical to success to ensure every team member does things the same way.
- Leadership. Anoint a leader to make decision; put one person in charge.
- Documentation. Create and documented procedures in a work flow manual.
- Measure. Define what success looks like and create metrics for evaluating progress.
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