In today’s legal sector, practice management spans a multitude of areas – consisting of anything from finance, IT, work allocation, client relationships and compliance. Managing all of these tasks is by no means an easy balancing act for time-stretched decision makers. It comes as no surprise that many practices are opting for robust legal IT systems, which can help to relieve some pressure and drive efficiency and productivity for themselves and their staff. Brian Welsh, CEO, Insight Legal advises
As demand for legal software increases across the board, the number of suppliers has inevitably increased with it. These suppliers will typically offer a suite of solutions designed to help practitioners navigate their caseloads, manage legal accounts and coordinate their practice effectively. Yet while the benefits are clear, finding the right solution from a reputable provider which also delivers maximum value for a firm, its staff and its clients can undoubtedly be challenging.
There are, however, some essential steps that decision makers can take to ensure they partner with a fair and transparent supplier and unlock the full potential of modern legal software for the firm and customers alike.
Data Migration and Finding a Reputable Supplier
It is common for modern legal technology providers to try various ways to keep customers and drive their own client retention. Users may feel that their supplier is reputable initially, yet some retention efforts can lead to many pitfalls and leave firms with a solution which fails to fully support the business.
For example, the process of transferring software suppliers will likely involve some degree of migrating data over to a new system and firms would expect new suppliers to charge some sort of fee to undertake this transfer. However, when a current supplier then says it wants money in order to give you back your data without warning, this can leave unsuspecting firms out of pocket or with a cache of inaccessible data – or both. Even worse, they may be forced to stay with a supplier that cannot fulfil their needs as well as another can.
With this in mind, it is important that firms always check the fine print and mitigate any risk when selecting a supplier, before it’s too late. It isn’t just clauses hidden deep within the contracts, it is the ones that may not be there at all. Check the termination clauses, does it reference how to get your data back and, if it does, is there a cost quoted? If any of those are missing you could face a potentially difficult position if you decide to leave.
If it says you can extract your data by running reports then it is unlikely that any migration from that product will give you the level of detail you require. Even if the reports are readable by the human eye, is it also suitable for importing into a new computer system? Checking all of the above will go a short way to ensuring that firms only do business with reputable suppliers that leave them in full control – should they choose to leave.
Finding a reputable supplier isn’t just about how cost effective they are for your practice. There is also an overarching need to provide an honest service in all areas of the business – which means no hidden conditions or nasty surprises. Finding those able to answer queries quickly and with clarity is your best bet for choosing an honest and trustworthy supplier, who won’t try and sell firms their software when it isn’t the right fit.
A great way to find a credible supplier is to search for those with a good reputation amongst your peers and come with recommendations. Google Reviews can give firms a snapshot view of a customer’s experience – making it a great market research tool when looking for a supplier which delivers on its promises. For those companies that are VAT registered, ensuring that their software is HMRC and Making Tax Digital compatible is another way to be viewed as reliable and reputable.
Driving Value with Reputable Legal Software
Some firms don’t realise the importance of having a reputable supplier, especially when it comes to receiving ongoing support and avoiding any issues that can occur when opting for a less customer-centric supplier. However, the benefits are clear to see.
Partnering with well-regarded providers will undoubtedly help firms to remain cost effective. By minimising the risk of unexpected fees or being bound to lengthy notice periods, decision makers can focus entirely on running their practice without concerns over spend on their legal software.
With legal software advancing, the responsibility to understand and utilise solutions effectively no longer falls solely on its users. Suppliers must provide ongoing support for firms well beyond the on-boarding process. The best suppliers will offer this to customers as an extension to their existing services, with a team of industry experts equipped with the knowledge to solve problems or answer questions as soon as they occur, with no hassle or time wasted.
Firms that ensure they have a reputable supplier offering the right materials, support and tools will ultimately allow them to maximise efficiency and remain cost effective. Dealing with suppliers can be tricky, especially if a firm has had negative experiences in the past. However, taking action to find reputable suppliers in the market will help firms to streamline their processes and focus on what’s important; driving maximum value for their legal practice and delivering exceptional service to their clients.