How inefficient and damaging is your law firm’s IT system?

December 06, 2019

A study published last year by Access Group (“leading author of fully integrated business management software”) suggested that 48 per cent of UK employees waste three hours or more a day as a result of working with inefficient systems. Over the course of a year, this costs the average UK business at least £28,000 (“more than a full-time employee earning the average UK salary”), Access calculated.

To make matters worse, the survey of 2,000 employees found that because of inefficient systems, 51 per cent of respondents were “not confident in the accuracy of data within their company’s internal systems.”

Source of frustration     

Inefficient systems also seem to be fuelling malcontent among employees. According to Steve Sawyer, Access Group divisional director, 45 per cent of respondents admitted to frustration resulting from having to rekey information into internal systems, which is leading to one in three UK employees considering changing their job or career.

That means more than seven million UK workers considering finding a new job simply as a result of system inefficiencies. “It’s hard to imagine what the value is on the loss in knowledge after these departures,” Sawyer pondered.

He called for all UK businesses to review their systems and speak to their employees to find out exactly how systems are used day to day. “It’s time for businesses to become more efficient and use systems that integrate, allowing their employees to make better use of their time,” Sawyer argued. According to the study, the tasks that most created inefficiencies because of poor internal systems are “submitting expenses, scheduling work, filling out timesheets and billing finances.”

Productivity gains

Another independent international study called Powering Productivity, commissioned by enterprise portfolio management software provider Planview, was published in September last year. It was based on a survey of “515 senior and key decision makers involved in IT buying processes.” Respondents from the US, UK, Netherlands, Germany and the Nordic countries had varying levels of seniority, from senior management to CEO, and led companies varying in size from 50 to 1,000-plus employees.

Inefficient processes were found to be the number one cause of time being wasted at the respondents’ companies (followed by paperwork overload and meetings). According to the study: “Companies without tech-driven productivity strategies are suffering. They are more likely to experience operational inefficiencies and time losses. And this can affect customer satisfaction and employee retention. In some cases, the ability to innovate by offering new services may even be impacted.”

Matter or priority

As the report reminds us, companies need to continuously improve their efficiency if they want to become “stronger, smarter and faster – and compete successfully in the marketplace”. But it identifies two key obstacles. “It can be difficult for businesses to know whether they’re getting a true return on their investment in productivity technologies […] because ROI can be tricky to define.” A lack of IT support during the technology-buying process was identified as another key challenge.

Writing for the Information Age website about Powering Productivity, Ben Rossi considered key factors that prevent companies from investing in new IT systems. He doesn’t believe money is the key issue (“although sometimes board members need to be convinced about the business benefits” he concedes). Rossi acknowledges that business can have concerns about the time required to implement new systems and the effect this will have on output (although replacing legacy systems saves a significant amount of time within weeks of implementation, he says).

Rossi summarises: “IT sits at the heart of efficiency savings [because] it’s the bedrock of every process within a company. What’s clear is that system changes can also bring more than just an effect on the bottom line, which should put them at the top the list.” How efficient are your law firm’s IT systems?

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