Key Trends from Best Practice Forums
Over the past two years, Mitratech’s client base and product portfolio have grown tremendously causing us to re-think our approach to the annual user group meetings across the globe. These meetings have transformed into Best Practice Forums (BPFs), taking a more legal operations-focused approach that is product-agnostic to facilitate compelling conversation for all of our clients. We have also incorporated the “unconference” concept, which allows clients to vote on the topics of discussion, break out in smaller groups, and move around the room to participate in multiple discussions of their choice.
I personally attended four of the ten BPFs this year and found some similarity amongst the topics of interest across clients in Houston, Chicago, Detroit, and New York. We found that clients of all sizes, industries, and legal management solutions had similar operational challenges such as user adoption and law firm evaluations. They were eager to hear how others were able to accomplish these objectives. However, there was one topic that was consistently voted the highest in each group: reporting, data, and analytics.
Reporting, data, and analytics have been a hot topic in the legal space for quite some time. However, over the past two years many companies have introduced new offerings into the market that provide law firm bench-marking data, real-time outside spend tracking, and interactive operational dashboards to name a few. These solutions have finally had time to garner the interest and consideration of our clients, thus giving them the information needed to discuss the various metrics that can be tracked and analyzed over time with their peers.
Outside counsel spend data, both internal and external, is probably the most common form of analytics we found, as most solutions track this type of data in some form. This data can be displayed in a number of ways, depending on the requirements of our client, and graphic dashboards seem to be the most user-friendly method of displaying this data. Some clients have even built their own internal dashboards, which showcase metrics specific to their own initiatives. The wide array of software available today has opened up a multitude of options for gathering, analyzing, and displaying data in a way that best suits a particular organization.
While data and analytics software is gaining serious momentum, we also have many clients that use traditional BI tools such as Business Objects and Cognos, as well as the native reporting engines found within their respective matter management solutions. We quickly realized how important these reports are – they drive funding approvals for the legal department, alternative fee arrangements with outside counsel, and additional headcount requests. Some clients even leverage department-wide reports to show how they are creating more value with less resources.
We are excited to continue following these trends and discussions at our annual user conference, Interact 2016 , from September 11-14 , as well as during our next round of BPFs to begin in Q1 2017. Although there may be new solutions that are gaining traction, one thing will remain consistent: reporting, data, and analytics are the basis for which many critical decisions are made and these types of technologies will continue to be more refined in the coming years.