In these times, law firms and professional services organizations are having to think on their feet. We’re all adapting to a fast-moving landscape and adjusting our business practices to deal with lock downs, travel bans, and the health and safety of staff. We have seen how quickly firms have adapted to changes to working location and remote enablement. As the dust settles [a little] on this area of focus, we see firms turning back to some form of business as usual. The question now is – how do you steer the firm through the economic impact of the pandemic?
The good news is you have a tool that is readily available to help you answer this question – the data life cycle. Your data can be the key to forecasting your way through today’s turbulence and provide you with instant answers to guide the firm’s tomorrow.
1. Take a closer look at data to drive action
Firms are looking at their data for answers but also to support decisions to focus on the fires that need fanning or indeed need putting out. Firm leaders will be already carefully monitoring the firm’s daily and key vitals such as chargeable hours going in, daily cash flow, and working capital, etc. But does management understand the flow of work? How it’s being taken on and allocated? What’s happening in the client sector(s)? Are some expanding? Which ones are contracting?
The firm’s data life cycle has many data points containing golden nuggets of information, which can be tapped into above and beyond traditional financial metrics – and beyond typical business intelligence from a PMS-centric view.
2. Broaden your perspective to see the full horizon
Exploring and exploiting the full data life cycle the firm already owns is one way to milk its data assets for instant answers to your most compelling questions. Spotting the trends from the start of the life cycle and how the flow from CRM, through business acceptance and financial management, provides deeper insight into how the workload is shifting in the market, its effect on teams, and the impact on margins. “This is not a simple task,” I hear you cry, as the data is in many systems, in many operational silos, and cut in different ways. But it is possible with current technologies to apply a common set of principles and taxonomies to harmonize outputs accordingly.
Daily monitoring of metrics on areas such as: Who is contacting whom and why? What are the results of the contact and discussion? These metrics can provide insight into market trends and opportunities. By joining this information to the business acceptance process and the results of resourcing new work, you can start to surface dips in activity in sectors and allow for workload balancing to improve utilization. Highlighting the type of work the firm is taking on can provide insight into partner behaviors that could increase risk. For example, you can identify the potential negative impact of taking on higher-risk work to keep teams busy, which could negatively impact the firm’s risk profile and working capital.
3. Chart your course based on insight
Adding financial metrics to the puzzle completes the loop. Understanding the initial contact through intake, a profile of work, and then the financial outcomes can better inform the business on how to focus and target at the beginning of the life cycle. Do you want more of this type of work? Or less? Do you need to reduce your risk profile? How can you utilize your greatest asset [your people] to be better armed to take on or share the work to help deal with peaks in other areas?
As your firm contemplates the business horizon, consider how it can use existing data assets to inform decisions and chart a course forward. Your data can unearth pockets of value and insight and create greater visibility, empowering the firm to see trends and factor in how the business flow is working to steer through today’s crisis and plan for the future.
If you’d like to learn more about how Wilson Allen can help you modernize your analytics framework and gain the insights you need to support strategic business decisions, please contact us. Also, plan to attend our Legal Business Analytics webinar series beginning July 8, 2020.
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