Firms need to leverage numbers and statistics to strategic opportunities at the firm. In our last blog post we discussed why financial dashboards matter and shared three areas that they can help your law firm raise the bar.
- Graphs and visuals encourage storytelling.
- Dashboards are effective tools for providing one version of the truth across the firm.
- The process of implementing a dashboard can help define measures of success.
If any of the above sounds familiar, then a BI dashboard may be a useful tool for your law firm! Working with a legal BI vendor like BigSquare to develop the dashboard in a thoughtful and inclusive way is essential, in order for the tool to be accepted and used by decision-makers across the firm. So what's next? You know a BI dashboard is an important tool for your firm, but how do you get started? In part two of this blog we dive into four tips here to help you get started with that process. If you are looking for a more in depth tool this whitepaper shares how to successfully implement your legal BI tool.
Here are 4 tips to help get you started:
1. Choose a dashboard that you can get up and running quickly.
There are different options for building dashboard reports: some firms want to build something in house, which takes a tremendous amount of time and resources away from your team. Isn't the point to make things easier on your firm? There are BI dashboard tools that are created for any industry, which tend to be very broad and again take quite some time to customize. Going with a legal specific BI vendor is your best bet. They have the experience with other firms and know exactly what type of metrics will be important, and your firm will get to customize quickly with ease.
2. Create a diverse working group to identify what matters to your organization.
Assemble a team of leaders at the firm, usually from the finance department, and have them as the project leads communicating with each other through the implementation process. If you go with a legal BI vendor, they will be the ones on project calls to brainstorm important metrics at the firm, wants/needs, and what the firm needs to help measure success.
3. Measure performance against a desired budget.
Displaying budgets alongside actual performance on a graph helps tell an interesting story about different KPI's you are interested in measuring. Instead of simply displaying the numbers, showing them compared to your budget or goal dives deeper into where improvements can be made. This helps to motivate the individuals looking at the data to strive towards a goal which ultimately helps the firm. Not only does it show areas for improvement, but it also helps to paint the picture where you are exceeding expectations.
4. Pilot the dashboard for a set time, then reevaluate.
Dashboards are only useful once you deploy them to your firm. It can be tempting to stay in R&D mode to arrive at the perfect set of metrics, but you miss out on valuable user feedback. Pilot the dashboard to a select set of attorneys and administration and gather feedback, make the necessary adjustments and then deploy the solution to the entire firm. After deployment to the pilot group you will gain necessary information to update and reevaluate as necessary. This gets the information in the hands of the members of your firm and immediate ROI.
Over the past decade, dashboards have emerged in the law firm industry “best practice” for financial management. They are not a fix-all, but if financial reporting feels like an administrative, rote exercise at your organization, then a dashboard may be just the thing to energize internal discussions around finances.
BigSquare is the leading provider of Business Intelligence for law firms and professional service organizations. We focus exclusively on law firm reporting, law firm BI, law firm profitability and law firm analytics.