Accurate and timely tracking of lawyers’ hours is crucial for a law firm to remain competitive, says Tikit
Think back to the London Olympics and one of the stand-out performances was racing cyclist Bradley Wiggins’ time trial performance where his intense attention to time management made him a gold-medal winner. It was an example that every lawyer should follow because they are battling in a “time trial” every day of their working lives.
The effective recording, registration and notification of time spent on clients’ matters are at the heart of turning a great legal performance into a great business result. Time “lost” during that process can make all the difference in terms of profitability.
That is why the management philosophy of Sir Dave Brailsford, UK Cycling’s performance director – based on his theory of the aggregation of marginal gains – is just as relevant to lawyers as it is Olympic cyclists. His focus on “how small improvements… can have a huge impact on overall performance” relates directly to managing partners’ aim to improve the sharp end of the legal process – charging the clients for the work done on their behalf.
IMPORTANCE OF VELOCITY
Just having any old time capture software is no longer acceptable if your aim is to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of your lawyers’ “good habits” when they are compiling the data which will form the basis of their bills. An underperforming time capture system is like riding a bike with a puncture. The longer you cycle on it, the more power will go out of the system. That’s why lawyers need a system which reflects the way they actually work today.
As Mark Garnish of Tikit, the makers of the Carpe Diem time keeping system, points out: “Effective time recording is all about ‘velocity’. What that means is eliminating the lags in time between doing the work and recording it; then the lag between recording it and submitting it internally; and finally the lag before billing the client. The more that you can get rid of these lags, the faster you will get paid in full for the work that you have done and be able to justify that bill based on transparently accurate records. And that has to count as success.”
The Carpe Diem system is already regarded as a market leader, but Tikit’s commitment to continuous improvement means that a new generation of the system will be launched at the British Legal Technology Forum on March 17. The new product marks an enormous leap forward in innovation. Mr Garnish says: “Every single line of code has been newly written. The aim of this new-generation product is to address square-on the issue of velocity by eliminating all the barriers which cause lags and delay.”
CONSUMERISATION IS KEY
At the heart of the new approach is what he calls “consumerisation”. As he puts it: “With our new generation of Carpe Diem, we have aimed to make its use as easy and natural as possible. We’ve developed a simple, easy-to-use interface for all circumstances.”
In designing the new software, Tikit has paid close attention to how lawyers actually work in practice. After all, it can be highly variable ranging through all hours of day and night, at home or in the office, on trains, planes or waiting rooms, even when eating. So in order to be able to capture the data without any lags under such diverse conditions, Tikit has ensured the software can work equally well across all kinds of devices, platforms and circumstances – laptops, desktops, smartphones at work and at play – in a fully connected way.
With our new generation of Carpe Diem, we have aimed to make its use as easy and natural as possible
“Having a single timekeeping system that provides the same technology across every platform is very important for a consistent user experience,” says Mark Mountford, head of IT applications at Bird & Bird LLP. “The functionality to record time with tablets and smartphones is of increasing importance, and is now competing with traditional desktop entry. Consequently, the ability to capture and manage time painlessly and accurately across all devices is not simply a ‘nice to have’, but is seen as fundamental to how we support our lawyers.”
The benefit of this for both lawyer and client is that there is a direct correlation between velocity and accuracy. “With our new generation of Carpe Diem, it will be possible to move seamlessly from one activity or place to another, one device to another, without missing a beat in terms of time capture,” says Mr Garnish.
This is extremely important to general counsel, who are themselves under pressure to ensure they are being correctly billed by their legal advisers. As a result they are now increasingly likely to demand access to individual lawyers’ records. “Our adoption of Carpe Diem’s consumer-based timekeeping technologies, resulted in a 44 per cent increase in the number of mobile entries, with 40 per cent more granularity, both of which contribute to more timely and more accurate invoicing to our clients,” says Justin Hectus, director of information at Keesal, Young & Logan (KYL).
“As a firm we value our clients and put a distinct focus on transparency, so being able to deliver an all-round great service and provide clarity across all our activities is fundamental to those relationships.”
The accurate and timely tracking of hours is fundamental in measuring both cost and revenues in law firms – and will be an increasingly important part of a firm’s competitiveness. Having the most appropriate software is the way to win your personal time trial.