Integrating Cloud-based Request Management into a Law Firm’s Billing and Time Entry Systems
Michelman & Robinson, LLP (M&R) is a dynamic and growing national law firm with offices in California and New York that has successfully handled thousands of transactions with litigators who are aggressive, seasoned, and knowledgeable. Its clients include Fortune 500 corporations, financial institutions, high-tech and industrial enterprises, real-estate developers, government agencies, entrepreneurs, educational institutions, and philanthropic institutions, as well as individuals and small and mid-sized businesses.
M&R stands out as a firm that serves its clients’ immediate legal needs while creating strong, long-term relationships that support ongoing business objectives. So as the firm grew, it was challenged to move a paper-based request system to an automated one that not only simplified processes for its partners and employees but also adhered to the regulations required of the legal profession. The initial system the firm chose was successful, but a buyout of its software provider and the eventual discontinuation of upgrades to its system launched a search for a new provider of workflow management that would integrate with other existing systems already in place.
- Choosing a workflow management system that would work with the Omega time-entry system
- Finding a system that was configurable and easy to adapt to change at a sensible cost point
- The Integrify Cloud-based solution was implemented in late 2013.
The Integrify Solution
The most important factor in choosing a workflow system for M&R was finding one that integrated with its time entry program (a critical component of the legal profession) from Omega. That system didn’t have its own workflow program, which was necessary for opening up new client matters and doing conflict checks. The firm needed a configurable solution that would replace its lead network, an “old-time” billing system that is prevalent in law firms, and which was then serving as its workflow management.
“We looked at four or five vendors, then we chose Integrify because we felt the cost point made the most sense for our needs,” said Jeep Jensen, Chief Operating Officer, Michelman & Robinson. “It was easy to build and understand, and we could integrate it with Omega.”
Integrating Omega with Integrify was no small task due to changes that occurred within the Omega organization. Omega is a privately owned software company that primarily serves many mid-sized law firms across the country, as most of the billing entry software on the market is designed for either small boutique firms or for large firms with enterprise systems that cost several hundred thousand dollars.
While Jensen and his team were evaluating workflow management vendors, Omega sold its product lines to Aderent, a large legal software company that chose to discontinue Omega’s billing entry software after purchasing it. Many of the programmers that were working with M&R to build the bridge that would allow the system to work seamlessly with the new workflow management system were reassigned or left the company, which held up the process and the implementation of the new system.
“Our hope was to close that loop, and as we processed workflow matters, repopulate it into Omega without manual entry, but because of Omega’s sale we were never able to see that through,” said Jensen.
Integrify is the only process and workflow offering that allows users to easily define, build, and publish processes within an intuitive interface. They can rapidly create processes that truly work the way their business works. The platform is designed for business users, requiring limited (if any) support by IT personnel. Integrify can be defined and deployed rapidly for one process, then extended to other processes across an enterprise. And luckily for M&R, it can be configured to integrate with existing systems.
Request Management simplifies the process of request submission, quickly completing tasks and gaining insight into the status of the request activity. The way to accomplish that is by providing a unified request portal front-end that allows for a common and intuitive experience for the end users.
The Integrify team recognized the importance of a request management system tying into existing enterprise applications, many of which have very rudimentary request and approval features that were never intended to reside outside of their system’s core feature set. M&R found walls built around its existing billing and time entry system that didn’t provide a common user experience and were difficult to use for request management.
By moving to Integrify’s request management system, M&R avoided high development and maintenance costs (which have been shown to be at least six times the cost of a license) in building request management capabilities into its existing system.
Integrify’s extensible process management architecture offers multiple ways of integrating into an organization’s environment. Support for integrating with third-party systems (email, enterprise apps, directory services) is possible with the Integrify API’s and an extensible Integrify plug-in architecture.
M&R has approximately 120 attorneys and staff across its five offices (Los Angeles, Orange County, Sacramento, and San Francisco in California, as well as one in New York), and about half of them are active users of the Integrify system.
“We’re moving a number of workflow applications to Integrify,” said Jensen. “The new client matter intake workflow is by far the biggest one; and we’ve moved all check requests, purchase requisitions, and travel requests onto the platform. It’s been nice to have a one-stop shop for that.”
The simplicity and common interface is critical to a firm with multiple locations: “From a legal standpoint we’re required by law to have a system that we review and that will identify conflicts. Integrify enables us to streamline with that system in Omega and gather the information rather than doing that manually or via email. We’re able to log it into the system, track it, and then make sure there’s closure on it.”
New client matter intakes require a number of approvals throughout the firm—each needs a conflicts check and an executive committee approval, as well as reconciliation in billing.
“Just doing the approvals electronically, as opposed to moving paper in and out and doing pouch service between offices, is a huge timesaver,” said Jensen. M&R had been using an older workflow system before Integrify, but it wasn’t very functional when the firm changed its accounting and time entry systems.
M&R is using the Integrify Cloud service without the need to install software. The firm has an on-site server that is the bridge to move data for new client matter intakes from the Omega system to the cloud. For all other requests, the firm uses standalone workflows in the Integrify Cloud.
Integrify Cloud provides all the functionality of the Integrify solution for a low-cost subscription rate. Processes are hosted in a secure and reliable environment with guaranteed uptime using Amazon’s EC2, and customers can configure and deploy processes in days, not weeks. Integrify Cloud offers users an unlimited number of processes; a secure hosting environment; access to online management of forms from any location; real-time workflow and process tracking; increased visibility into processes; a customer-branded process portal hosted by Integrify; status reports; and much more.
Despite the wide implementation of ERP systems, more than 85% of processes are still paper-based. Most workflow processes are error-prone during paper-based data collection, difficult for employees to identify and follow, and for administrators to track and manage. Integrify’s common request management interface and automated workflow efficiently manages requests. Process improvements can be identified, and resources required to respond can often be reduced.
Jensen said that the automated system expedites the process of opening new matters by at least two or three days as compared to a manual system. The firm processes 300 to 400 requests a month.
Integrify has been shown to reduce direct workflow costs by more than 30%, cut process management cycle times in half, and deliver positive ROI in less than three months. For M&R, the most significant result was the time savings.
“What we didn’t have before, that has certainly saved time and increased the accuracy of our record-keeping, is our purchase request system, our credit card activity reporting and the pre-approvals for all that,” he said. “It certainly has made it a much more robust system, not only for auditing and record-keeping purposes but also accountability on those submitting and getting approvals—there’s an audit trail for that. Again, because we have multiple offices involved, that previously took place via email or paper copy, which would end up getting lost or misfiled in the shuffle. This is definitely streamlined all in one place. It’s probably saved us 30% efficiency.”
Jensen said the M&R team is pleased with the results, just as they were happy with the entire implementation process from start to finish.
“It’s allowed us to use our time more productively,” said Jensen. “And the Integrify team has been very responsive. This has been a fun process.”