In today’s competitive legal landscape, data-driven insights are crucial for informed decision-making and success. To make this even more impactful, systems used by disparate teams be it for practice management, finance, and business development need to be connected. This ensures cross collaboration and that ways of working are enhanced based on one source of truth. This blog explores the insights shared by Toby Harris, Microsoft Technical Specialist, on the importance of connected finance for law firms during a joint webinar by Microsoft and sa.global.

The Blockbuster effect: A cautionary tale of not embracing change

The story of Blockbuster and Netflix serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of failing to adapt to change. Law firms face similar challenges, considering the sheer pace at which client expectations and pricing billing models are evolving, demanding agility. The firms that can truly weather all changes would be the most successful. They can be resilient even in the face of massive disruptive events such as COVID-19, BREXIT, and other legislative changes. What’s at the heart of such companies? They are willing to reimagine their processes, systems, and approach such events with a new way of thinking. They are able to use their data to make astute decisions that power the firms to new heights.

Turning data into a lifeline

Law firms generate vast amounts of data, but it often remains trapped in silos, hindering meaningful insights. Think about the quantities of data generated through briefs, memos, research, pitch preparations, legal records, sales, case workflow etc. All of this remains untapped. Toby highlighted that to just take stock of the data from a finance perspective requires the ability to use all other parameters that impact the case costs, budgets, profitability, and cash flow at the law firm.

This is easier said than done. The data silos between core systems and reporting tools lead to inaccurate reporting. You would then apply disjointed methods to patch data together for insights, often involving stale, static data manipulated in Excel. By the time the findings are presented to decision-makers, the data is outdated, and the findings are inaccurate. This, in turn, leads business decision-makers to try and retroactively justify decisions already made due to the limited information available at the time.

The promise of connected finance

The goal to make the most out of data should be to break down these silos and create connections between systems. This will allow managing partners, practice heads and other decision-makers to use this data – they can course correct as needed and take decisions on a proactive basis.

That said, most finance tools offer reporting, but it’s limited to the data within the system itself. This excludes critical data such as client data, employee details, and matter management etc. While such data can be viewed independently, the real blind spots are uncovered when all the three combine to present a comprehensive story.

By breaking down these data silos and connecting everything, you gain the ability to draw meaningful insights and leverage data across your entire business landscape. Now connections can be made, leading to new insights that help you navigate uncertainty and change.

This is the true potential of connected finance – it breaks down the barriers, allowing you to tap into the potential of data across your entire business for proactive decision-making.

Benefits of a connected Microsoft ecosystem

Microsoft offers a comprehensive platform that integrates client data, staff information, legal operations, and finance. This seamless connection allows fee earners to access real-time data within platforms like Teams and eliminates the need for switching between multiple systems.

Law firms can benefit from a leading technology provider like Microsoft which offers a comprehensive platform that unifies data across client management, staff information, legal services, and finance functions. This core platform, built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, seamlessly integrates with familiar tools like Teams, Azure Cloud, and Power Platform.

This robust integration fosters not only deep functionality but also rich connectivity, bringing people, clients, and financial data together in a unified environment. The benefits extend beyond simply housing data; features like real-time communication within Teams empower fee earners to directly access and inquire about billable hours. Similarly, approvals can flow seamlessly through Teams or Outlook, eliminating the need to navigate multiple disconnected systems. This tight integration ensures all your data remains connected and readily accessible.

“Partnerships are crucial in today’s business landscape. sa.global leverages our industry-agnostic platform and finance system, adding their legal expertise and intellectual property to provide the specific functionality law firms need. This allows firms to achieve industry-standard functionality without data silos or creating isolated legal finance tools.” – Toby Harris, Microsoft Technical Specialist

AI and Machine Learning integration

Microsoft platform integrates natively with the law firm’s system, ensuring that decision makers continue to receive insights and analytics. It is built on top of Microsoft Azure, facilitating law firms to leverage frontier tools like machine learning and artificial intelligence. Since all the data resides in one place, it can be used for machine learning algorithms.

Security is also a major benefit. Azure Active Directory is built into Microsoft systems, along with best-in-class security technology. This ensures that the information related to clients, matter, case are all safe and secure in the cloud, eliminating concerns about data storage location.

This entire platform creates a simple, intelligent system where all data can be used seamlessly. New insights and actions can be driven from this data by establishing connections that were previously siloed and disjointed. Data does not need to be cobbled together in a haphazard way.

Having everything in one place enables powerful features like the digital feedback loop. This loop allows data to be seamlessly used across different systems.

In finance, you can leverage third-party data alongside client and matter details to generate highly accurate cash flow forecasts. This is achieved by the system pulling in relevant information from different modules, empowering you to predict cash flow with greater precision.

Similarly, the customer payment insights feature leverages historical payment data and machine learning to predict client payment behavior. This allows you to anticipate payment timelines and potential delays.

On the matter management side, seamless integration ensures you have the right legal team assigned to each matter at the optimal time. This is because all employee information is natively integrated with matter details, drawing data directly from your finance system.

From a data management perspective, everything is centralized within the platform. This centralized data becomes the foundation for intelligent decision-making. By leveraging this data and Microsoft’s advanced technology along with sa.global IP, law firms can gain valuable insights that translate into actionable results.

Embrace technology, shape the future

The legal industry is undergoing a digital revolution. Law firms that strategically integrate technology will gain a competitive edge, streamline processes, and deliver superior client service. By embracing connected finance, you can become a game-changer in the legal industry.

Want to learn more about how connected finance can transform your law firm? Watch the full webinar here to hear in-depth insights from Toby Harris and other industry experts.

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