Connecting the dots by Doug Hargrove, Advanced Legal

This article was also featured as a column in the February 2016 issue of LPM. To read the issue in full, download LPM

Over the past 18 months, I’ve noticed a significant change in the internal structure of law firms. As firms experience a change cycle for technology (such as updating IT systems or installing a new practice/case management system) they take the opportunity to break the self-imposed barriers created between branches, offices and departments.

Working in silos has become a thing of the past for those firms wanting to lead and succeed. These modern and connected infrastructures, combined with the latest digital technologies, are creating truly connected practices – allowing forward-thinking firms to unlock their potential, attract the best staff, and deliver outstanding client service.

Data, automated processes, digital access and cloud agility can all combine to make your firm a powerful organisation. Primarily, it’s important that a firm’s data is shared across each department and branch. Separate systems doing various tasks can be costly to manage, prevent staff seeing the bigger picture and, as we’ve all experienced, result in a lot of repetition. Disjointed intelligence makes decision-making difficult and timeconsuming. Data is the lifeblood of every business, and transforming your IT systems to unify those disparate data streams can maximise value, and highlight otherwise obscured opportunities, and give decision makers actionable insight. This provides a real-time view of performance and risk that can transform the way your firm operates, allowing leaders to spot opportunities and avoid pitfalls. A connected infrastructure will also allow your management team to identify areas for cross-selling and drive business growth.

Within the connected practice, manual processes are replaced with automatic tasks – removing the risk of misplaced, duplicated or lost data. Automated tasks also reduce inefficiency, and free your staff so they can focus on adding value to the organisation and, most importantly, your clients. Firms have access to a large pool of client data, and new technology can help analyse this information, improving engagement with clients and delivering a great service.

Increased digital access and exposure in everyday life means it’s no longer acceptable for firms to lack a digital presence. If you want your firm to bring in the best talent, you need to offer attractive digital options. Employees and clients are increasingly expecting you to optimise mobile working, meaning staff can connect to work servers regardless of location and information can be stored in one central place. Clients have access to up-to-date details on their case and notes from meetings that are instantly uploaded to the server. By reimagining how things are done and thinking digitally, you can increase client loyalty.

Cloud services continue to gain momentum and will become increasingly critical within the government’s scheme for digitisation. The flexibility of the cloud means your staff can gain a level of agility that has the potential to put you ahead of the competition. Cloud services promote collaboration throughout the organisation and provide security, even while offering the ability to work remotely.

A truly connected firm isn’t just one that exploits new digital channels to get closer to potential clients – it’s tightly integrated right through to its core, with a unified infrastructure, systems and data. The connected practice makes its day-to-day operation simple yet highly effective by ensuring the business is integrated and enabled by the right technologies. 

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