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Microsoft Excel has long served an important role in law firms, particularly for matter pricing and budgeting. Some lawyers find Microsoft Excel challenging to use but find it’s the primary tool their firms use handle matter pricing, fee-arrangement options, and budgeting and resourcing. For all of the power of Microsoft Excel, its inherent limitations prevent you from efficiently modeling fees, considering resources, and planning budgets — and it’s a poor solution for managing established legal pricing budgets.

Today’s highly remote, geographically dispersed workforces have amplified the limitations of using Microsoft Excel-based pricing processes for pricing and budgeting. And, as firms seek to establish and grow their legal pricing function to support the growing needs of lawyers and clients, the scarcity of skilled pricing and legal project management (LPM) resources continues.

For all of its strengths as a generic business tool, Microsoft Excel isn’t a suitable pricing or budgeting solution to support scale or growth within a modern law firm — especially in most midsize firms, where the pricing function is nascent or slowly maturing. As firms add more sophistication to support a broad and formalized pricing function, the human expense becomes too costly to spend time on manual processes like managing Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

Looking ahead, every pricing and LPM team needs a dynamic cloud-based legal pricing solution that scales with deeper pricing needs.

Pros and Cons of Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel provides a flexible, powerful spreadsheet application for general business use, and many firms employ talented spreadsheet wizards. Given this familiarity and flexibility, Microsoft Excel will always remain a go-to tool for some functions. But for legal pricing, using spreadsheets is like riding a 10-speed when you really need an e-bike.

Firms need a solution, not a tool. Spreadsheet-based pricing processes struggle to scale as your pricing sophistication grows. They require tremendous manual maintenance — which law firms simply don’t have time or the resources to support. Although Microsoft Excel serves individuals well, it’s not suited for multiple users — especially now, with teams more widely dispersed — or when dealing with sensitive data where permission access is paramount. Microsoft Excel models often are built via copy-paste work and human-edited formulas with no inherent versioning, which introduces a higher than acceptable level of risk and error. And, often, individual users save workbooks and plans to their local systems or servers, eliminating the opportunity to build an important repository of intelligence and experience that firms need to move forward.

A robust process is critical to your legal pricing team’s long-term success. Many professionals, when thinking about a matter budget, consider the immediate creation process; however, the reality is that budgets often exist for years. Firm administrators, lawyers, and clients will all want to know when they’ve reached important milestones or thresholds. Firms need to adjust budgets based on timing, rate increases, matter phase, or other criteria — and that takes tremendous effort in Microsoft Excel. Deploying a solution that’s built around your firm’s process simplifies the overall workload for teams supporting the matter budgets.

The bottom line is that Microsoft Excel isn’t built for legal pricing work, due to its reliance on humans for data, experience, and insights, and to accurately supply competitive and profitable matter pricing and budget needs. Firms need the support of an integrated, smart, and user-specific solution, such as Intapp Pricing.

Time to Migrate Away from Microsoft Excel-Based Pricing

Every matter deserves a documented budget and genuine attention to its financial success. Implementing a cloud-based, purpose-built legal pricing solution streamlines collaboration between pricing and LPM teams and lawyers and creates a central budget and plan repository for future reference and collective team access. The solution monitors your matters against a fixed fee, blended rate, or AFA, so you can play offense, not defense.

Because Intapp Pricing provides an integrated solution, it benefits from always-current data regarding people, rates, matters, and activity — delivered dynamically and accurately, without manual maintenance. You’ll gain continuous access to client terms when planning a matter and maintain upstream compliance to support improved downstream outcomes. Using Intapp Pricing, compliance follows planning and budgeting through the matter lifecycle, all the way to time entry, streamlining billing and collections to achieve higher realization.

Intapp Pricing lets you take advantage of the continuity of integration to provide always-on matter monitoring, with or without budgets. This legal pricing solution offers insights into existing matter activity to help your team review and understand activity, scope, and plan-to-actuals, including visibility into WIP and write-downs for real-time financial management. As a total solution, Intapp Pricing provides profitability modeling for agile comparisons and what-if analyses with intelligent levers and comparisons. You can receive alerts on activities or matters that lack budgets to ensure proactive management, providing better visibility for profitability and improving client relationships

Intapp Pricing: Better than Microsoft Excel

It’s worth the effort to move away from Microsoft Excel-based pricing and adopt an integrated legal pricing solution. It’s time to swap out the manual, single-user spreadsheet with limited capabilities to a more sophisticated cloud-based pricing solution that’s purpose-built for the unique needs of law firms. Intapp Pricing provides transparency, consistency, efficiency, and predictability in ways that spreadsheet-based pricing workflows can never match.


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