Workforce: 135 staff working across eight offices Areas of work: Family Law, Personal Injury, Clinical Negligence, Residential Conveyancing, Commercial law, Employment Law, Wills, Trusts & Probate Went live in: 2007
Justine Tipling, Systems Manager at Barcan+Kirby, shares how she has driven forward the firm’s use of SOS Connect to ensure they get the maximum from the system.
What are the biggest benefits of investing in a new system? “With eight offices, the .NET based system has enabled us to be more consistent across the firm in the way each office deals with daily work. With the aid of scripting it has enabled us to insert certain workflows and features to ensure we are more easily compliant and to make it easier for users to report any risks etc.
What has your role been? “When I arrived at Barcan+Kirby in January 2010, the system was not really being used to its full capabilities, especially in terms of incorporating accounts functionalities with SOS Connect, in areas such as automatic time billing, electronic posting slips and the posting of anticipated disbursements. I ensured there were changes so that our estimates against actual limits were more accurate”
How does the system underpin the work you do? “It underpins a large part of the firm and what we do – we use it for business management, matter management, legal accounting and customer relationship management (CRM). We have different levels of workflow scripting, depending on the department and the strategic level within the firm.”
Has your reliance on IT changed over the years? “Yes it has, now that we have a system available which provides up to date information and is on a stable platform.”
What advice would you give to a firm looking for a new supplier? “Talk to other people with relevant knowledge and ask to go to see reference sites. Ensure the reference site is specific to the type of work your firm does and ask to see certain aspects in operation that you know you will want to use.”
Have you any tips for others rolling out a major system? “Find out as much as you can about a system’s capability and maximise this over time. Even if you don’t use this from day one, you can work towards achieving maximum potential. Communicate with staff in a language they can understand, and watch and listen to people to discover what needs to be improved. People will adopt a system far more easily and with more humour if they feel involved. Identify staff that would be good as “super users” in each office, who would train and inspire colleagues around them.”
Have you any tips for others in getting the most out of technology? “Ask the right questions – don’t think purely about cost, but also about the benefits that investing in a system will bring. Think about the long-term cost savings in order to maximise how you use the system.”
What has been your biggest challenge? “Initially getting staff to understand the benefits of training. All staff need training on any new aspects of the system to ensure they can get the most out of it. Also to stop people duplicating contact information and to use the system correctly by making relationships on the matters.”
Do you have any examples of best practice in using the system? “We have scripted the system in many ways to help us adhere to policies. When matters are created users have to go through steps to check for money laundering, equality and diversity and low/high risk cases. In relation to risk management, we have a simple risk management icon on each matter which contains mini workflows for reporting complaints, money laundering, the increased risk on a case and whether we act for both parties on a conveyancing matter.
“In conveyancing we also have a workflow for assured searches; search fees are automatically posted as anticipated disbursements and posted on the ledger. In the conveyancing team we have created a quote manager system as we have realised we had no handle on the amount of quotes that were being given and if these were converted or lost and if lost, why. Now basic contact details are captured, a quote is populated and automatically emailed. Prompts are set to ensure the enquiry is followed up and information about the status of the enquiry can be reported via the pipeline report.
“I process any SOS Connect scripting enhancements or amendments every Friday and these are deployed on a Monday. All the staff are aware of this and are actively encouraged to send through any ideas or requests for inclusion.
“Our users are also shown how they can customise their version of SOS Connect to suit the type of work that they do to make their daily work that bit easier to process.
“As much as possible there are shortcuts to websites, workflows etc. set up, so the user does not have to keep coming out of SOS Connect to access any other application such as our HR Toolkit, used for requesting holidays etc.”
What are your plans for the future? “Currently we are working on creating case stage budgeting for personal injury and clinical negligence work in light of the Jackson Report, changes for which will come into effect on 1st April 2013. We are also about to create a workflow for monitoring the progress of files when sent to cost draftsman and requests for medical reports. We are also not far off installing client electronic payments throughout the firm, to reduce the number of cheques sent.”
How might technology improve your customer service and lead generation? “Having the marketing manager product has enabled us to develop the quote manager workflow for non-conveyancing departments, so we now have a much better handle on the number of quotes given which are converted or lost.
“We have also created a new source of business script which works off the back of relationships and is reported on via the marketing introducer statistics, which not only gives us a better understanding of where our work has come from, but also shows us how much income those introductions generated. The workflow also means we can capture any “not yet known” sources of business and chase the free earner to get the information.
“Recently we have also purchased the ability to have our client questionnaires completed online and due to SOS Connect, to script in the option at the closure of a case of being able to send these out via paper or email, which is useful.”
What three words best describe SOS to you? “Full of possibilities.”