10 ways to maximize your e-billing and matter management system
Remember back in elementary school when you had fantasies of becoming the next Eddie Van Halen (stay with me here)? Perhaps you begged your parents for that new guitar and began lessons in earnest —for the first few weeks. You soon found that—gasp!—it took lots of practice and work to get good at that particular stringed instrument and (yawn) soccer season just started and you didn’t really feel like practicing. Soon you found yourself plucking “My Dog Has Fleas” less and less. Shortly thereafter you decided to put your guitar hero career on pause, and your closet got a new, permanent occupant.
While this may be a common occurrence of childhood, it may be a surprise to learn that the equivalent also happens to many legal departments when they purchase matter management and e-billing software. How, you ask. A system may be purchased with great expectations. Perhaps the legal department commitment isn’t fully there, and it gets minimally implemented. It probably does a couple of things that the legal department wants – maybe some bills are running through or big matters are created – but there’s no consistency or guidelines in its use, and there are no plans for improvements to processes. Soon, it goes into the metaphorical closet with the metaphorical (or in my case real) electric guitar. But, just as one can learn to play an instrument through process and practice, a legal department can get value from its system if the legal team prepares correctly and puts in the work. Here are the top ten ways to become an Eddie Van Halen of legal matter management and e-billing software:
A team needs to be assembled, preferably before implementation, to decide how best to configure the system. First and foremost, a decision-maker in the legal department needs to be on board. This can be the general counsel (GC) or someone who has been assigned the GC’s authority for this project. If the rest of the legal department isn’t made to believe this project is a priority for their boss, the odds of a systemic change in legal department operations go way down. For a large legal department, you may want a representative from each major practice area to give input into the configuration of the system. It’s important to get someone from the accounts payable department on board (or finance depending on how your company is structured) to discuss how invoices will be handled, and someone from IT—especially if there will be integrations with the system. Having this team in place gives the project authority within the department and also includes all other stakeholders so there are no surprises down the road.
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