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Forefront eNewsletter

Q3 2017 EDITION

Timekeeping's Role in Workload Management

Time recording has always been an essential aspect of law practice and billing. Now, however, law firms are looking even more closely at the opportunities it presents. Not only are firms’ clients increasingly interested in being able to access work-in-progress in real time, law firms are looking for data sources to manage and determine availability of resources and expertise in order to competitively bid for legal work. While historical data delivers a historical price, resource availability is integral in determining accurate pricing around the deliverability of future work. Modern timekeeping technologies can leverage the traditional timekeeping capture experience to facilitate the capture of future hours (i.e., forecasting) and deliver valuable workload-type information for the firm’s project and pricing officers. While this does not seem like complex rocket science, there has been a long-standing disconnect between firms’ ability to mine and utilize core data pulled from time recording systems and applying that data to forecast future resources.

Let’s take a closer look at the strategic role of timekeeping as the conversation starter when it comes to legal service pricing, workload management, and forecasting. Do you still consider the billable hour as dead? I think not.

Forecasting and Workload Management

Anyone who has been to a Tikit event, webinar, or educational “lunch and learn” knows our mantra: “It’s all about the data.” Firms that master the collection and strategic use of data will come out on top… as it relates to the pricing conundrum and the overall delivery of accurate and value-added RFPs and bids, focused on resource-based information.

With this in mind, let’s pinpoint the current data gap problem when it comes to making informed resource management decisions. Data for resource availability currently does not readily exist in digital form, and there’s no streamlined way to strategically and accurately allocate and plan resources for specific matters. Balancing workloads across all of the resources in a firm is vital in order to make efficient use of existing talent and consequently maximize profitability via accurate and competitive pricing. Who is available within a given timeline based on matter urgency and time sensitivity?

Timekeeping is a natural fit for the recording of future workload levels via the input of forecasted hours using the same consistent user interface already in place for historical hours (after all, a forecasted hour vs. a historical hour worked exhibit the same properties). The result is a valuable data source in determining resource availability, an important ingredient in matter pricing and project management. The “forward entry” of time enables firms to gain insight into work patterns, areas of low usage, and areas under stress from too much work. By using comprehensive resource management dashboards, it is possible to identify such issues and more evenly distribute work or determine where tactical business development activities could fill short-term gaps.

The introduction of forecasting as a component of timekeeping extends its role to a more strategic, future-focused finance role—treating a timekeeping system as a critical component to growth-focused strategic finance versus traditional back office accounting.

Workload management is about effective work distribution and allocation created to facilitate optimal lawyer performance and efficiency levels. A balanced distribution of workloads assists firm management in forecasting resources and more accurately pricing legal work. The creation of a data source via the forecasting feature will enable firms to forecast how busy their professionals will be over the next day, week, or month in order to facilitate fair work distribution. The key is leveraging existing input systems like timekeeping which require minimal training and ensuring high adoption of the systems to facilitate the creation of this valuable data source.

While some firms are already engaging in ad hoc resource management and leveraging legal project management processes to streamline efforts, there is a tremendous opportunity to extend a timekeeping system that already exists and utilize it as the input source for firm forecasting and accurate workload management.
 

Tikit

Tikit is one of the largest suppliers of technology solutions & services to legal & accountancy firms, and is part of BT Group. Tikit's client list totals more than 1,450 firms globally, including 90 of the UK's top 100 law firms, 250 US law firms, 12 of the top 20 European law firms and 18 of the UK's top 50 accountancy firms. Click here for more information.

 
 
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