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Connecting to Innovate

Connecting to Innovate

By Michael Warren, VP, Client Development & Intake, Wilson Allen

No business in any marketplace in any sector can afford to stand idle – forward movement is imperative to keep pace with client needs and outperform the competition. Innovation fuels movement.

Firms that thrive in today’s hyper-competitive environment match or exceed the wave of modernization that has swept corporate life. A distinguishing characteristic of this modernization is connectedness:

  • Connected teams working from many geographies
  • Processes that bridge departments, connect collaborators, and enable efficient inception of clients and matters
  • Connected data stores that position the firm to inform business development and marketing with the richest, most useful information about the firm’s experience and capabilities

For the connected firm, as the heads of the business operations departments start increasingly to align their business plans, the approach to system implementation and information management will be more business-process focused. The most profound changes will occur in client development and intake.

There are many reasons firms should connect the client development and intake disciplines, both from a data and operational perspective:

  • Connecting the intake and CRM databases provides the marketing organization with a deeper understanding of the characteristics of the companies that the firm deems prospects
  • The data from the business inception team tells the marketing organization which companies or industries should be off-limits entirely
  • Valuable third-party data for new business inception can inform marketing strategy
  • Connected firms begin client and matter inception in the marketing system, seamlessly converting prospective clients and matters to active business at proper approval thresholds

One of the best ways to begin innovating toward a more connected firm is to develop an understanding of the client’s journey across the entire practice lifecycle.  What is it like to be a prospect considering doing business with the firm?  What is the nature and quality of the experience of becoming a client or commencing a new matter? How does the firm serve its clients? What value does the firm provide, and what forms does that value take in addition to legal advice and representation? What is it like to be billed by the firm, and how does a client validate and approve billed amounts? How transparent a view does the client have of a matter as the engagement progresses?

A modern firm needs systems, data, and analytics to gain appropriate insight into clients, targets, and opportunities, ultimately to make smarter business decisions.