Not all decisions to outsource are incentivised by cost savings—law firms are perhaps one of the best examples of this. For decades, corporates have been outsourcing legal work, recognising that this is the best way to get a high-quality service. There is value to be found in working with an outsourcing provider and even more value when you invest in working with them towards a shared goal. This blog explores the four ways that outsourcing a non-commercial function, specifically administrative and secretarial support, can add value in a UK top 100 law firm. A higher quality of service Assuming that a thorough approach to selecting the right outsourcing provider has been taken, you should see an improvement in the quality of the function’s output. As the leading provider of administrative support services to the legal sector, we do this by: Regularly sharing knowledge across our 56 client sites and using it proactively to problem solve or make recommendations for improvements Consistently delivering training to our employees at client sites to ensure standards are maintained and improved Systematically reviewing our performance (internally and with our clients), feeding back to those delivering the service, and tailoring our service as necessary You likely have regular conversations about how you can offer a better service to clients. There is likely less focus on improving the quality of non-commercial functions. When you outsource to a specialist you trust, it means that the provider can focus on maximising the value of that one function, working to a set of KPIs you agree together. This is often part of a wider step-change to achieving better client services. Impact on the bottom line Experienced outsourcing specialists are able to uncover opportunities to reduce costs without compromising quality. This is usually achieved using processes such as audits and benchmarking, specialist knowledge of processes and how to make them more streamlined, challenging the status quo and looking again at how services can be provided rather than just delivering them in the same way as previously. For our clients, these cost savings look like: Increases in the volume of reprographic work completed centrally, generating a saving of over £140,000 per annum Reduction in printing costs by 40%, through review and implementation of a print equipment audit By moving the document production team out of our client’s office and into a captive nearby, we were able to free up a significant amount of space that the firm could use to support incoming fee earner growth without incurring additional real estate costs Standardisation and innovation A lack of standardisation in administrative support functions can open you up to risk and inefficiency. It also stifles innovation because those who know the function best, and therefore those best placed to explore innovative opportunities, are usually tied up in day-to-day delivery. They spend more time dealing with the immediate firefighting than looking to the future. Standardising your administrative and secretarial support gives you the opportunity to explore new and better ways of operating both the function and wider firm. You can standardise processes within the function yourself, however, specialist outsourcing providers have access to knowledge of what works elsewhere and offer dedicated focus on that one function. When you work with us, we put the relevant infrastructure in place to mean that work is being done consistently and to a high standard, using resources developed over 17 years of working in the industry. Resources such as: Standard operating processes (SoPs) Training shots Skills banks Induction manuals Knowledge bank folders Standardising in this way allows us to then explore innovative ways of delivering the administrative support function, making it better, cheaper, and faster. It also frees up your time to explore innovation in other areas of the firm. Support for future growth Outsourcing some non-commercial functions allows, within reason, you to scale up and down the support you receive as necessary. In terms of cash flow and changing client demands, this is a sustainable position to be in. The partnership model we establish with our clients when they outsource areas or the entirety of their administrative and secretarial support function to us support their growth in three overarching ways: By focusing on the delivery of a wide range of non-core services, we free up management team time than can be re-focused on supporting and accelerating growth We get more out of teams, through cross-training and other initiatives, meaning headcount can increase at a more cost-effective and sustainable rate than it typically would in-house When our clients grow, we work with them on decisions around office space and new offices Choosing outsourcing providers Outsourcing is not like other procurement and therefore shouldn’t be treated as such. Our free guide, Law firms: Why, how and what to outsource in 2019. A guide to secretarial and administrative outsourcing options explores the two overarching incentives for law firms outsourcing their back office and secretarial support: transactional support and transformational change. The guide also includes case studies and a chapter on how to identify which type of solution is right for you.
We all love being paid, but not necessarily the hassle of billing. With a number of moving parts – invoice generation, double entry, compliance requirements, VAT, tax, chasing bill payments – legal accounting is not always fun. Add to that the time pressure that law firms face, and you have a system that’s inefficient. Top tips for improving billing efficiency Data-driven solutions are helping to solve these problems. Here are our top tips for improving billing efficiency: 1. Manage client expectations One of the first things a law firm should do with regards to billing is manage client expectations. More often than not, clients are taken aback by the final bill and are more inclined to dispute/ignore it than settle it. Case management and time tracking softwares now allow clients to keep track of the hours accumulated as lawyers record them. This gives your client an indication of what expenses they should expect and when they may be invoiced, allowing them to budget for it in their cash flow. 2. Create a billing schedule Law firms are busy, and billing is often pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Creating a billing schedule – and sticking to it! – is important. Your clients will expect a bill at a certain time; if it doesn’t appear, they will assume timelines are lax for payment as well – and this can impact your cash flow. One way of ensuring you create and stick to a billing schedule is to automate it. Automation reduces the amount of time it takes for you to create a bill, which makes the task less onerous. Automated technologies are usually part of a case management software, which can help you keep track of your billing schedule – helping you bill on time and chase pending payments. 3. Tracking time According to a LexisNexis survey of over 450 small law firm attorneys, companies with between 1 to 20 attorneys claim they are missing out on 40% of their billable income due to inefficient time tracking methods and billing strategies. It’s important to use software to keep track of your firm’s hours so that you never miss out on revenue. 4. Options for payment In today’s world, it’s necessary to give your clients a range of options for how to pay their legal bills. According to findings from a 2017 Legal Trends report, law firms stated they get paid 39% faster when they accept credit cards as a payment method. A range of payment options makes it easier for your client to pay, which means no backlog of unresolved bills. Choosing DPS Legal Accounts Software DPS Legal Accounts Software has been designed to address all your billing needs. It has been built with the Solicitor Account Rules in mind, thus exceeding standards set by the SAR. It is also MTD compliant, which means you can submit your VAT returns to HMRC digitally (within DPS Financial Director). Some of its other advantages include: Bulk invoicing Automated fee earner reviews Multi-currency options across client and office accounts for when you’re dealing with international clients Automation to reduce the amount of time you spend on billing Flexibility to change features such as the layout of the ledger card and the time recorded feature to work better with your firm’s operations These are just some of the obvious benefits. DPS Legal Accounts Software aims to streamline billing – with all its administrative headaches – so that you spend less time battling with bills and more time being paid. To learn more about how our accounting software solutions can help your firm, get in touch with our friendly team today.
As you’re probably aware, the EU’s fifth anti-money laundering directive (5AMLD) comes into force in January 2020. And law firms really do need to comply, especially as they’re particularly vulnerable. While banks and accountancy firms are much more geared up for this, law firms typically have fewer systems and resources in place with which to address money laundering, making them something of a ‘soft target’ for criminals. At the same time, failure to demonstrate that compliance processes are in place can have dire consequences: firms risk the ultimate sanction of being struck off. The question therefore becomes: how can firms comply in ways that are both compliant and cost effective? The answer is by utilising technology. What does compliance look like? To assist with compliance with 5AMLD, technology can help by allowing you to verify the identity of new clients. There are two components to this. First, firms must verify that they’re looking at a legitimate document, generally a passport or driving licence. This is easy enough if it’s a UK driving licence, but what, for instance, does a Lithuanian one look like? Next, firms need to have verified that an individual is indeed who they claim to be, that they live where they say they do, and that their given date of birth is true. This article was first published in the November 2019 issue of LPM 'That's not all, folks', click here to read on.