Archive for December, 2008
As 2008 comes to a close, we want to wish our readers best wishes for the New Year. Thank you for your interest in what we have to say and you willingness to continue as readers. All the best!
We posted a couple articles on intranets and law firm expenses. While there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of traffic to these posts, many have found them via their web searches for “cut costs intranet” or “intranets cut costs” or the like. The number of our readers that have landed on this site because of those searches indicates to us that there is an interest in using firm intranets to manage expenses. Why is this important to intranet teams? Because they need support from the firm to do their work.
How can expenses be managed better with an intranet? Improvements in support staff productivity allow firms to be very selective when deciding to add new staff, thereby cutting costs. For example, a legal administrative assistant, paralegal, administrative staff, and even lawyers may do the following tasks through out the day:
- Open new matters
- Close old matters
- Send files off site
- Complete and submit personal time sheets
- Fill out expense forms
- Photocopy cases from reporters
- Reserve conference rooms
- Order food for meetings
- Order supplies
- Look for information about firm events, news, etc.
- Send out holiday cards (this is a very time consuming process in even the smallest firms)
- And more…
In most cases each task taken individually represents a small amount of time. Add up the number of times done per day and the number of individuals performing the tasks and the time becomes significant.
For example, if done manually with paper, opening a new matter would take the time to find the form, enter the information, deliver the form to accounting, accounting enters the information into the accounting system, and sends the new matter number back to the individual who started the process.
If all the information needed on the form was easily available, one could estimate that it would take about 20 minutes to get a new matter opened. Firms who have moved the process to a paperless work-flow easily available via the firm’s intranet, should see the process take 5 minutes or less.
Even firms who have made the process paperless using the Windows interface of the accounting system, should see a reduction in the time it takes if they improve the system interface when they put it on the web via their intranet.
Let’s say the process was a manual paper one to start with and it is moved to the intranet. If the firm conservatively adds 500 new matters a year, they would see a savings of 7500 minutes during that year. Dividing 7500 minutes by 60 minutes in an hour equals 125 hours/year. Dividing that total by 8 hours equals 15.6 days/year. Rounded, the total becomes 16 days/year.
16 days may not seem like a significant savings in terms of the time needed to do administrative work but add that to the time saved doing other tasks listed above when made available via the intranet and you are talking about real savings in time that could be used to do the work that no one ever gets to or in money if it reduces the need for additional staff as the firm grows.
Intranets do support a firm’s need to manage expenses but it does one better. In addition to or sometimes instead of cutting costs, firms need to focus on generating more revenue. The next post on The Law Firm Intranet will focus on that topic.
~ Nina Platt
Here are a couple new Law.com articles regarding SharePoint with the first paragraphs included. The Law.com Newswire includes technology articles on a regular basis. Those articles are generally at the bottom of the email you get once you register/subscribe. It requires a userid and password to get into some of the articles which is the reason for the registration process. If you are hesitant to subscribe, check back to read the Law.com Legal Technology portion of the site on a regular basis. Subscribing to Legal Technology Newsletter is another way to get legal technology news from Law.com.
Creating an Intranet Portal at Parker Poe, Steve Fletcher, Law.com, December 18, 2008.
In a crowded diner in Brooklyn, two men study a laptop computer. On the screen, a spectacular infinity pool disappears into the sea beside St. Lucia’s lush green Gros Piton mountains. Beside it, a colorful box lists the country’s hotels, real estate developments and golf resorts. There are Web links for the St. Lucia government, tourism and local news sites — even today’s weather. No, these guys aren’t planning a vacation on a travel agent’s Web site. A senior law firm partner is illustrating his team’s expertise in Caribbean resort and hospitality developments to a prospective client. What’s on the screen is one of the more than 200 practice group pages on Parkway, the intranet at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein.
Elements of a Successful SharePoint Search, Mark Gerow, Law.com, December 17, 2008.
Search technologies, such as those found in enterprise search platform Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, can help control access to legal information on the Web to meet clients’ needs. Mark Gerow of Fenwick & West describes how his firm successfully implemented SharePoint Search.
~ Nina Platt