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Hogan Lovells: Gaining Enterprise-Wide Visibility from Disparate Data

Posted on May 3, 2016

Project Summary

Name: Hogan Lovells
Co-Headquarters: London, U.K., and Washington, D.C.
Services: Corporate, finance, government regulatory, intellectual property, litigation, arbitration, employment, and pro bono
Lawyers: 2,500 in more than 40 offices worldwide, including approximately
815 partners
Website: www.hoganlovells.com

Business Situation

  • Combination of U.S.-based Hogan & Hartson and U.K.-based Lovells to create a new global legal practice

Technical Situation

  • Create a data warehouse to enable enterprise-wide reporting on data from two separate Elite Enterprise systems
  • Extract data on a timely basis and allow data to build in one night (six hours)
  • Minimize impact on reporting experience and keep existing regional reporting systems
  • Adopt a global reporting solution that supports a long-term investment strategy, should the business evolve into a single solution for all reporting

Why Wilson Allen

  • High degree of confidence in team’s technical strength
  • Ability to demonstrate a clear approach to the project
  • Prior experience working with Wilson Allen’ personnel
  • In-depth understanding of Elite Business Intelligence and data warehousing

Project Overview

  • Devise a road map, define a data map, and establish rules in Elite Business Intelligence
  • Build custom change data capture from the source systems into the global data warehouse, then test and validate the data build
  • Enable reporting on data within the warehouse using Elite Business Intelligence
  • Expedite the project despite obstacles while existing reporting systems were being upgraded

Highlights

  • Built data warehouse within six months
  • Enabled global reporting on data from disparate source systems
  • Drew on in-depth technical expertise to keep the momentum going
  • Reached milestone of year-end global reporting

Key Quote

“Wilson Allen was a technical sounding board for us. If they said it could be done, we knew it would happen.”
Kevin Gentry, Financial Systems Director, Hogan Lovells US LLP

Project in Detail

Hogan Lovells provides legal services based on the principles of teamwork, collaboration, and commitment to client service. It became a top-10 global legal services provider on May 1, 2010, through a combination of two firms with strong market credentials: U.S.-based Hogan & Hartson and U.K.-based Lovells. The newly formed Hogan Lovells operates out of two hubs in Washington, D.C. and London.  They provide the infrastructure for Hogan Lovells around the world.  When the time came to combine the company’s data warehouses, team members from these offices demonstrated these same principles of teamwork, collaboration, and commitment.

Executing Reports on Disparate Data

While the formation of Hogan Lovells was driven by compelling strategic logic based on delivering what clients need from their lawyers around the world, the combination presented some anticipated technology challenges. Both of the operational centers used Elite Enterprise software for their accounting as well as time and billing practices. However, they had separate reporting systems: the U.S.-based center used Elite Business Intelligence and the U.K.-based center used Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services (MS-SSAS).

While they were able to effectively operate day-to-day business on separate Enterprise systems, there quickly became a requirement for both centers to be able to generate combined reports based on data from the separate source systems. Duplicate data would be generated when lawyers were working on cases that spanned both systems. The firm needed to pull all that information together to get a global view of matters, timekeepers, fees, billings, and productivity. Manually merging the data in an Excel file for a multibillion-dollar organization was not an option.

Representatives from finance and IT joined forces to discuss the creation of a global data warehouse that would extract data from both source systems. Once the data was in the warehouse, Hogan Lovells finance staff could report against the data, establishing a single global view of the enterprise. While both centers would use the same software for global reporting, each would retain its existing software for regional operations and reporting.

Choosing a Software Solution

Next, the team had to decide what software would not only enable the data extraction, but also support the reporting requirements. Year-end reporting was only six months away, so they needed to be up and running quickly.  Plus, the solution needed to support the firm’s overall strategy of a single global reporting solution. Elite Business Intelligence software emerged as the right choice. “We needed to use software familiar to us because we didn’t have time for a lot of training,” says Kevin Gentry, financial systems director for Hogan Lovells US LLP. “The U.S. team was already using Elite Business Intelligence, so we decided collectively that it would make the most sense to use it for the combined data warehouse project.” The team architected how they envisioned the data extraction and build working. They then began considering who to work with to execute the plan.

Identifying a Services Partner

Once Hogan Lovells made the decision to go with Elite Business Intelligence for the project, Wilson Allen was the natural choice to implement it. The U.S. operations center had prior experience with personnel at Wilson Allen and felt confident they could handle the technical complexity of the project. Representatives from the firm felt that Wilson Allen was right for the project. Wilson Allen conveyed a high degree of confidence and backed their position with a sound explanation of how they would approach the project.

Configuring the Data Warehouse

Wilson Allen worked with the team at Hogan Lovells, driving the project collaboratively and engaging in ongoing dialogue with the key participants. Representatives from the firm met with Wilson, agreed upon a road map, and tested how the consolidations would run to make sure all of the data ended up in the right spots.

Each source system had different data definitions for similar datasets, requiring Wilson Allen to define the rules to map the data into Elite Business Intelligence. This build process required an extra series of customized steps to enable accurate mapping and migration. “Wilson Allen was a technical sounding board for us,” Gentry explains. “If they said it could be done, we knew it would happen. Likewise, they weren’t shy in coming forward when our proposal wasn’t going to work, to say that it needed revision and thought, which helped us keep forward momentum on the project.”

Sharing Knowledge

While the data warehouse project was underway, the U.K.-based team upgraded its MS-SSAS software. So when Wilson Allen was in the U.K. training the finance team on how to use the Elite Business Intelligence data structures, it also advised the team’s technical consultant. Wilson worked with Hogan Lovells’ consultant and was able to explain how to get the best performance out of the solution.

Overcoming Obstacles

The project was not without some unforeseen obstacles, such as the logistics of moving large volumes of data across a thin data pipe. Broadband connectivity was an issue, requiring the team to rely on shipping USB drives between the United States and the U.K. When the drives were held up in customs, the project timeline suffered. Ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland brought flights across Europe to a halt, further threatening the timeline. But despite these challenges, Hogan Lovells was able to meet its year-end reporting requirements.

Gaining a Global View

Hogan Lovells currently has a global data warehouse enabling a more comprehensive view of operations. The data builds each night within six hours, extracting source data from the two software systems and consolidating into a single data warehouse. Using Elite Business Intelligence, the two operations centers are able to produce reports relatively quickly. The U.S. center has been able to import its existing reports into the warehouse and run those using global data. Wilson Allen guided Hogan Lovells through the challenges and enabled the firm to complete the project without losing weeks poring over data and charts and getting lost in analysis paralysis. The firm knew what everyone was doing and what the next steps would be.

Looking Ahead

Wilson Allen continues to refine the data warehouse as new needs and issues arise. Looking ahead, Hogan Lovells will consider the merits of consolidating on one enterprise software system, or simply enhancing the software currently used for reporting. For now, the firm is enjoying the benefits of a global data warehouse that provides management with the information and visibility it needs.

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