Viewing archives for Acquisitions and exit

Managing Partner’s Briefing on IT’s Role in Successful Legal Services

The context for IT in the legal sector is changing but the winners are those with, amongst other essentials, a defined IT strategy where IT spend is targeted at driving their business performance. Many of our IT Directors have wide experience in this sector and they have created this Briefing Document specifically for Managing Partners/CEOs in this sector.

 

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

IT’s Evolving Role in an Evolving Legal Sector

The context for IT in the legal sector is changing. Legal Aid cuts, new flexible legal service providers, referral fee bans, new ABS and the Big 4 accountancy firms form an increasing threat to the typical traditional mid-sized “partner led” legal firm.

A higher level of freelance and temporary legal professionals and growth in outsourcing creates new cost-pressures and new threats, but also new opportunities.

The winners are those with, amongst other essentials, a defined IT strategy where IT spend is targeted at driving their business performance. Firms must determine their vision; for example simply to use technology to drive automation and cost-savings; or to free up partners and equip them to leverage their personal relationships and to provide the highest levels of personal service.

How can IT make this happen? We see the following areas of focus for our clients:

Optimised Practice Management & Reporting – Smooth-running, effective and efficient processes are the bedrock of a well-run firm. Systems need to provide clarity on matter and client profitability, billing, WIP, expenses and cash management and to free up highly-paid professionals from excessive administration. Firms living with ageing Practice Management Systems need to untangle their processes, identify a clear Target Operating Model and select and implement a PMS to make that a reality.

Mobility – Some firms still need to move from a paper-based, solely office-based culture where senior staff assume IT is for junior staff! This means ensuring that the IT works well, for everyone, anywhere, anytime. It means good access to the full range of systems and collaboration tools for people working remotely or on the move. All staff need proper training and support and need a positive and enthusiastic attitude.

Sales & Client Engagement – Effective CRM and relationship nurturing initiatives go hand-in-hand. Successfully implementing these initiatives is partly about technology but also about process, training and behaviours. Changes to organisation and incentive structures may be required.

Cybersecurity, Risks & Compliance – Reputable law firms can easily lose their reputation as a result of technology-based fraud or IT catastrophe. Adoption of security standards and external audits can help drive programs of security and business continuity planning. Getting these right often involves getting a wide range of technology and process issues sorted out, so this can be good all-round. But there is no end to the money that can be spent, and a commercial and real-world attitude is needed.

Innovation – Most firms have very unremarkable websites, and are not taking advantage of on-line marketing or sufficiently leveraging client portals. Forward-looking organisations are already embarking on a journey to automate “low end” activities using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Mid-tier legal firms must be wary of another cycle of “IT industry hype” but also need to avoid being left behind as gradual change can overtake them!

In every case the key issue is IT leadership and culture. IT must be at the top table; all senior leaders must be engaged with innovation, but there must be healthy scepticism and constant attention to ROI. The aim of IT must always be to deliver business outcomes.

IT needs to be owned by a confident, competent leader, well connected and influential around the firm. Good IT can significantly contribute to a unified and collaborative culture; and this can be self-reinforcing as more unified firms tend to adopt good IT more effectively.

Adoption and commitment are often the key factors in successful IT (and perhaps in success more broadly!) and strong IT leadership is the basic ingredient.

Read our Managing Partner’s Briefing on IT’s role in the Legal Sector here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

CEO’s Guide to Strategic IT for M&A or Exit.

UK M&A activity progressively increased during 2017 and is forecast to grow further during 2018. With growth in most economic regions forecast to continue, total global M&A during 2018 is expected to reach a staggering £2.4 Trillion.

Many of our clients are planning growth through M&A or exit and strategic IT is vital in delivering their plans. Even where there are no specific M&A plans, clients often approach us on the basis that they want to create conditions that would enable a transaction in the medium or long-term. But, actually, the issues that would be assessed during due diligence are important points for all companies. Put simply, M&A due diligence criteria are a convenient basis for CEOs to assess their own company’s IT strategy, regardless of any M&A plans. By looking at your own business through the eyes of a prospective buyer or lender, you can more clearly see your own systems efficiency and scalability, digital plans and risk exposure.

Getting the IT right for M&A or exit is an important part of the plan. This CEO’s guide is based on our experience from the clients we have worked with, it also includes a list of questions that can be used for a Board workshop or third party review.

 

This document covers practical issues concerning strategic business IT for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and exit or disposal. It describes issues relating to due diligence, cost control, insource, outsource strategy and supplier management, and licenses, contracts and exit clauses. The document describes due diligence weaknesses and how to overcome them and maximise value. It discusses how to standardise processes, systems, tools and technologies and maximise use of cloud. And how to handle M&A and exit IT risks, issues and information security, intellectual property (IP), GDPR, PCI and confidentiality. The document provides advice on IT due diligence consultancy and how to get started.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT Directors, CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

GDPR: Mindset & Culture – A Short Note for the Board

Original article written by Trupti Harding-Shah of My Inhouse Lawyer, www.myinhouselawyer.uk

In her video address yesterday, marking the 1 year countdown before GDPR takes effect, the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham makes data protection a board room issue.

She talks about sticks and carrots: the reputational risks and penalties that could hit the bank balances of businesses who don’t employ good data protection practices and in contrast, the benefits for those who make data trust a cornerstone of how they run their businesses.

A few weeks ago, our partner Freeman Clarke produced an excellent overview on GDPR, giving useful highlights and practical action plans. In this piece, we take a step back and talk about mindset and culture, two themes which are consistently threaded through the ICO’s messaging on GDPR and are relevant to board room thinking.

It’s fair to say that GDPR is not so much an instigator of change as an indicator of change. The digital economy in which we live has clearly outpaced old data protections. It’s a world where we can be identified by our IP addresses, where data about each of us can be used to profile us, market to us and is traded between organisations, often without our knowledge or consent.

GDPR looks to put individuals back in the driving seat, delivering to them stronger rights in response to heightened risks, including rights to:

With only a year to go, it’s right that businesses should be taking a close look at their data protection practices, identifying gaps against GDPR and looking to make those good.

At board level, it’s also about moving away from a mindset of compliance to thinking about how individuals would want their data to be handled and being transparent and accountable to them. It’s about employing appropriate data security measures to mitigate the risks we create for others in exchange for using their data. And it’s about creating a culture of data trust that pervades our organisations.

Yes, the risk of enforcement action for non-compliance makes GDPR a board room issue. But the longer strategic play is not just about avoiding fines, it’s about winning customer confidence and being seen as the kind of business that can be trusted. Those are the businesses that will be the winners in the new GDPR environment.

While we wait for more granular guidance from the ICO, and changes to the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR), GDPR should be actively discussed and budgeted for at board level.

Here’s the link to the 5 minute video from Elizabeth Denham.

Original article written by Trupti Harding-Shah of My Inhouse Lawyer, www.myinhouselawyer.uk

If you would like to discuss how GDPR will affect your business and a practical approach to making sure you’re compliant, contact us for a no-strings conversation.

When IT “Just Works” Incredible Things Happen!

When IT runs smoothly conversations become about things that matter – things that make a real difference to your business. Your team can start to ask how can IT help us operate more efficiently? how can IT improve our customer retention? how can IT increase our sales? how can IT help us do more online?

A means to the end

Do you see your management team spending time on meetings about anitvirus software, phone replacements, license renewals and software versions? Nobody wants to waste time or money on IT, but we need technology to get our business to where we want it to be. It’s a means to the end.

Making technology work for your business

IT staff and suppliers need 4 things to get IT working for your business.

1. A clear IT vision and roadmap.
A clear vision and roadmap means people are working on the right things. Budgets and plans can be set and agreed easily, enthusiasm builds as everyone knows what they’re doing any why. Success creates further momentum.

2. The skills to get the technology right.
Despite the importance of IT, anyone can claim to be an expert. Over-promising and under-delivering is almost normal in IT. Everyone involved in IT infrastructure, line of business systems and digital need the basic IT skills to do their job well.

3. The tools to work efficiently.
Even the best people can’t be successful if they don’t have the tools and equipment, whether it’s hardware or software. Often the reason they don’t is because they haven’t been able to properly explain to decision-makers what they want and why it will make a difference. See point 1 about a clear vision and roadmap!

4. The attitude to make a difference and to learn from mistakes.
IT is complicated and things go wrong, even the most hardened business leaders understand that. But people need the attitude to understand and learn from mistakes otherwise they are doomed to repeat them! IT people need to understand what the business is really all about and what matters to its customers. The entire IT team need to be committed to finding ways to say “yes”.

Find out more

We frequently meet businesses wasting time on technology (the means) and failing to get the business benefit (the end). But if you address the 4 fundamentals then you can stop worrying and begin the conversations that matter. Conversations that will help your business thrive.

If you’d like to talk to us about the 4 fundamentals then please get in touch.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

Subscribe to our Business Insights

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