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Why Your Time and Billing System Is Not Enough

Posted by Carly Wilson on Fri, Apr 03, 2020

Why Your Time and Billing System Is Not Enough

by Carly Wilson / April 3, 2020

With the ever-growing need for law firms to have a Business Intelligence (BI) solution in place to run their firm effectively, using reporting or "BI" tools that come with your time and billing software is no longer sufficient. They lack features, are not easily customizable, take much longer to get installed, and will only provide some relief. Using these tools can cost law firms and their lawyers in the long run. In addition, there are various issues and challenges that result when firms solely utilize their time and billing system for all their needs. Lawyers need a true BI self-servicing BI application in order to best run their book of business.

While time and billing software (T&B) is absolutely a necessary technology tool for a firm to have, it is truly that: made for financials. T&B companies offer an extra "perk" that they have a business intelligence solution, but that is not what they specialize in. Those companies do a wonderful job of providing top-notch law practice management and time and billing software to law firms, and spend a majority of their efforts improving that. Similarly, legal specific business intelligence companies focus all-day every-day on bringing the best features, quickest technology, and latest improvements to their BI products for their clients. If a time and billing system's BI tools were enough, then legal specific business intelligence tools would no longer be around and every firm would have BI bundled into their T&B system. Leave the pro's to their individual specialties!  

law firm business intelligenceTypically many tools that come with your time and billing system are driven by the finance and IT teams at the law firm. This means that if someone had a follow-up question about the report in the BI section of the application they have to go back to one of those departments to get more detailed information. This causes slow, frustrating reporting cycles and doesn't truly allow your firm to leverage current data to make decisions. However, business intelligence companies have interactive user friendly solutions. While Finance and IT departments are still an very important part of managing access to data, multiple levels of users can quickly and easily find the information without constantly asking others to do it. With the proper software, users are empowered to visualize data and answer their own questions.

Many self-service business intelligence tools streamline the analysis process. This makes it easier for people to see and understand their data without the technical know-how to dig into the data themselves. There are many BI platforms available for ad-hoc reporting, data visualization, and creating customized dashboards for multiple levels of users. We have outlined our recommendations for selecting a legal BI tool so you can choose the right one for your law firm.

We see some law firms choose to use their T&B software's BI tools because when they upgrade to a new system it is included or heavily discounted. Unfortunately, the entire process of switching a time and billing system can last up to 4 years and the BI tools are almost always implemented after that process is complete. Saul Ewing is one of our clients on Elite Enterprise and their CFO said it best: "We cant afford to wait that long to get the information to our firm and lawyers desktops. And with BigSquare as a vendor, they were able to get the BI application up and running in a month, why wait 4 years?" 

 

What Specific Aspects Are They Lacking That Are Important to Law Firms?
With our twenty plus years experience in the legal industry, we've worked with law firms of all sizes, and all many different time and billing systems. While our knowledge provides value, a law firm's insight is key to showing why their time and billing system is not enough and a legal BI tool is vital:
 
LAW FIRM TESTIMONIALS:
Maynard Cooper was using Aderant's BI tools and it was not providing what was necessary to the firm. They were only able to use the application on their computer and not on a mobile device. Not only that but when lawyers did access the application on their computers, it was very slow. When lawyers asked or administration wanted to make changes to items in the dashboard, it not only took a long time, but it was very costly. 
Read more from their case study here.
 
Leech Tishman was using ProLaw's reporting/BI tools and it was not providing necessary data to the firm. Key data needed for reporting such as WIP, AR, billing and client information, could not easily be accessed through ProLaw. Not only was the firm unable to retrieve the data they were interested in, but they also could not generate the metrics they wanted to view.
Read more from their case study here.
 
This Harrisburg law firm realized, while in the middle of a migration to a new time and billing system, that their future system’s "Business Intelligence" offering was not going to deliver what they needed their BI application to do at the firm. This would leave them with no reporting/BI system for their scheduled go live.
Read more from their case study here.
 
These firms' time and billing system tools were not effective and each firm was lacking efficiency because of it. While the reporting/BI tools that come with your T&B system may be helpful, there are other firms out there utilizing the robust and state of the art legal BI software created by business intelligence companies who's job is BI all day every day. Will the items in your time and billing system provide you additional information? Yes. But will it provide it to you in the most efficient and effective way possible? No. Now more than ever is not a time to fall behind. Providing your lawyers this insight into their book of business is vital. Administration and Management need to be able to quickly and easily analyze all aspects of the firm.
 
We have outlined how you can use Analytics and BI as a competitive advantage in our blog post.  Whether you choose to embrace this technology or not will not inhibit the evolution happening in the industry. Changes are here and continuing to come, and if you don’t jump on board, you are leaving the advantage to your competitors.
 

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.

The Keys to Successful BI for Law Firms 
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