Last week during the ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) Annual Conference the 2013 Technology Purchasing Survey results were revealed. The 2013 survey added responses from the ILTA member firms with 1-49 attorneys (referred to as Under50) in addition to the 50+ attorneys (referred to as the Over50). There were 223 unique responses including 60% from ILTA member law firms with more than 50 attorneys.
48% of all respondents (including 56% of Over50 firms) spend 2-4% of total firm revenue on technology, compared to 25% who spend 5% of revenue or more.
The ‘sweet spot’ for per attorney technology spend, $8K-17K, accounts for 43% while 18% of respondents indicated a per attorney technology spend of more than $17K+. 60% of all Under50 respondents spend less than $8,000 per attorney on technology compared to only 26% of Over50 firms.
43% of Under50 firms indicated their budgets remained the same and 39% cited budget increases versus 2012. However, budget realities were not as rosy for Over50 firms; 24% indicated having decreased budgets versus 15% in 2012. 45% of Over50 firms (7% less than in 2012) cited budget increases.
The 2013 Survey also includes comprehensive breakout of past and future technology purchases and implementations; legal technology budget and purchasing influence questions; updated information on participants’ social media, publication and blog preferences; and an in-depth analysis of mobility trends including tablet usage and governance, firm app policies, and insight into how IT will deal with big data.
The list of recommendations when it comes to best practices could easily become a list longer than anyone wants to digest. But, I think it can be boiled down to 5 key suggestions. In fact, these 5 suggestions can likely lead to the success of just about any implementation.
Support from Firm Management
The sole determining factor of success when implementing a new piece of software is adoption and the adoption rates are undoubtedly going to be higher when the firm’s management is invested in the product, excited to use it and ready to encourage the rest of the firm to follow suit.
Dedicated Project Manager
Implementing ContactEase will require a team effort between Marketing and IT, but it’s easy to fall into the too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen trap. Designate a project manager at the start of the implementation who will lead the charge and keep the rest of the team working seamlessly toward the finish line.
Clearly Defined and Realistic Timeline
Be sure you map out your timeline at the start of the implementation and set realistic goals for completing each step. It’s important to move the implementation forward in a timely way to be sure you maintain everyone’s interest, but you also don’t want to fall behind schedule. Build sufficient wiggle room into your timeline and if you complete the implementation ahead of schedule, I assure you, nobody will complain.
Internal Communications Strategy
By nature, people resist change. Even the members of the firm who are enthusiastic about implementing a CRM system will need encouragement to incorporate it into their routine. The communication strategy to introduce and promote your CRM system can make or break the success of the rollout. Be sure you are clearly communicating with all users throughout the implementation and for some time after. Keep their tasks to a minimum and be sure the instructions for each step are clear. Continue to provide them with user tips/tricks to ensure they are making the most of the software. And, most importantly, be sure to communicate the benefits. The firm made a major investment and they want to see a return. Let them know how many hours the firm is saving now that you have an efficient system in place to manage the firm’s contacts and how many new opportunities you’re leveraging now that you can see the relationships that exist among the members of the firm. Be sure they understand how the CRM system benefits them.
Offering incentives boosts participation and ups the fun factor. And the list of ideas for incentives is endless, so be creative. If your budget allows, have contests or raffles throughout the implementation to energize people and meet your overall goals. Reviewing your contacts to be sure they are ready for synchronization seems like more fun if you know you might win a gift certificate for being the first to complete the task. A pizza lunch for the first practice group to finish categorizing their contacts could go a long way. Incentives don’t require a budget. You can encourage users by sharing their successes too. Look for successes to share in the firm newsletter or at practice group meetings.
Yesterday during the ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) Annual Conference, we had the opportunity to attend the Defining and Delivering Value session. The session focused on a law firm client’s perspective of value. The key themes explored were: defining value, differentiating value, communicating value, and measuring value. Below is a summary:
What is a cynic but a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892)
McKinsey Insights defines value as “The real essence of value revolves around the tradeoff between the benefits a customer receives… and the price he or she pays for it.”
Value = Benefits – Costs
Value based pricing is a clear and concise statement of the tangible and intangible results a customer gets from using your products or services that clearly differentiates you offer from the competitors. The three essential components are to:
Resonate. Clients must have a need for your service(s)
Substantiate. Clients must BELIEVE you can deliver
Differentiate. Clients must understand how you are different
Differentiate your value and your value proposition by completing the following:
Listen and fact-find: Who is/are your audience(s), and what are their needs?
Segment: Differentiate on a firm, practice/industry, and attorney level
Develop Options: Differentiate between options you create
Paths to Differentiation: Expert/reputation, trusted advisor
Stories: Tell stories that reinforce the differentiation
Communicate your value through:
Branding (“walking the walk”)
Working from the same script (consistency)
Learn the client’s internal incentives and deliver
Value can be consistently measured by delivering value in pricing and client relationships:
It’s not just about fees
Find your “bright spots”
How do you like your latte (know your clients)
Build a good tool box
That which is measured improves. Make sure to collect data analytics and create metrics to measure value creating the tools to move from cost-plus pricing to value pricing. Value can be a challenging concept for some and that is what differentiates successful firms. By delivering efficiency at low-cost, performance metrics, budget alignments and AFA arrangements, as well as “what if” scenarios firms will be able to meet the corporate legal department’s perspective of value.
A big thank you to the session panelists; the content was fantastic and laid the foundation for what a law firm places on value.
Yesterday we attended the Breathing New Life into your CRM session at the ILTA Annual Conference. The focus of the session was on realizing the ROI on customer relationship management systems, why some CRM implementations fail and others succeed, and innovative ways firms are reviving their systems and getting more use out of them.
While CRM systems have been around for decades, firms have traditionally used them for list management, email marketing, and event management. Here are some of the unconventional ways firms are using them today:
Dashboard for tracking activities
However, whether using your CRM system for conventional or unconventional uses your firm must first define goals and determine how success is measured. It takes clear benefits, realistic expectations, leadership support, communication and training to succeed. You will know when you have achieved your goals by increased revenue, client retention, new client representations, reduction of redundant tasks, lateral recruiting, enhanced business reporting and metrics.
Law Technology News recently featured Cole Valley Software in their article, Feisty Women Get Promoted. The article discusses recent realignment of the management team as Sam Shipley, former CIO of Ulmer & Berne, and Jennifer Whittier now share the title of Chief Operating Officer. Whittier will be focusing on the company’s relationships as Chief Relationship Officer and Shipley will focus his efforts on product as the CIO.
Next week we will be at the ILTA Annual Conference in Las Vegas! This year’s conference “The Catalyst” will focus on taking time to make reactions happen. There are over 200 peer developed educational sessions and tons of networking opportunities.
If you are attending the event make sure to stop by booth 328 to say hi and learn how we are being a catalyst in revolutionizing relationship management. During the event we recommend attending the Monday afternoon session Breathing New Life into Your CRM. Simone Hughes, Chief Marketing Officer, Field Law will be joined by other panelists as they discuss ways firms are reviving their existing systems and getting more people to use them.
Simone and Tim Holmes (Director of Information Technology, Field Law) will be available during Tuesday afternoon’s break to answer questions and provide advice on CRM at our booth. If you are not going to be in attendance this year, follow us on Twitter (@contactease) for updates and stop back to read our session recaps.
Here are some other sessions we recommend that may also be of interest:
Before defining your marketing role within a firm you must first understand what marketing is. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “Marketing” as: the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market; or the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service. The definition is vague and includes every function possible within a firm (which is accurate in my opinion). The Urban Dictionary’s definitions are insulting, but probably more in line of how traditional firm members outside of marketing think of it.
When I originally thought of marketing, before I started my career, I thought of it as the traditional items – communications and branding. However, I have since learned that marketing is so much more. Marketing has evolved to include:
Strategic Firm Planning
An individual’s role can really be shaped by their drive, expertise, ability to convey success, and by understanding and appreciating all aspects of marketing. In this blog series we will dive deeper into each of these different functions of marketing. Learn about each function and how to really showcase ROI to gain a seat at the table within your firm.
It may still be shorts and t-shirt weather, but the dreaded season of “Holiday Cards” is just around the corner. The best way to prepare is to plan for the inevitable sooner, making the project easier as the time approaches.The first step is to determine what your firm’s intentions are for this year’s annual Holiday Card. Some firms are satisfied with an e-card that goes to all of the clients, prospects, former clients, alumni, vendors, etc. with a generic, “From your friends at Smith & Jones.” Other firms want a physical card signed by those who are directly involved with the client, a separate card per partner. While there are also dozens of variations in between, before you can make your holiday plans it is important to know exactly what your firm wants to do.
Here are some suggestions of things Marketing should determine up front to ease through those holiday blues:
Do we send a card at all?
Are we going to do it the same way we did it last year?
E-Card or paper card? [You will need some lead time to order physical
cards and/or to design the perfect e-card.]
Only one card or will individual cards be sent? [A contact might receive several cards from different professionals in your firm, is that what your firm wants to happen?]
Who will be sent a card(s)? [Clients, prospects, former clients, alumni, friends, family, vendors…]
Will the card(s) be personalized? [Signed by specific professionals, will it contain a personalized sentiment?]
When should the card(s) arrive? [Remember, if it is a physical card that is personally signed, you need to get all that done in time to drop it in the mail, or else it won’t arrive until 2014!]
So before the kiddies are back in school (because once the fall begins, time is short), you should nestle up to a patio with a cold lemonade and start making your Holiday Card plans. Use the list above to make certain that you know exactly what your firm will be doing. Then, once you know where you are headed and what is involved, it will be easier to see how ContactEase can be used to help in the process.
Watch for future postings to help guide you through the Holiday Card Season, and remember it is never too soon to start. So READY, SET, GO! Start mapping out your firm’s plans now, so the process is easier in the long run.