At Bellefield, we’re relentlessly committed to innovation and the new technologies, ideas and practices that are shaping the future of legal. In this new topic series, we’ll showcase firms that have implemented innovative solutions at their firm.
Ward and Smith, P.A. is a full service law firm with 5 offices in North Carolina. The firm is known for its dedication to leveraging technology and their collaborative environment which fosters growth, innovation, and productivity. Their achievements have been awarded by Law Technology News and ILTA. Ward and Smith's award-winning business intake process exemplifies its dedication to business process efficiency.
This Q&A with Charles Collins, Applications Development Supervisor at Ward and Smith, focuses on how to eliminate duplicate data through information sharing between the timekeeping and CRM systems.
"We have found that simple solutions can sometimes have the biggest impact on our users. Through identifying the bottlenecks and inefficiencies of this process, we were able to quickly provide a robust and streamlined solution that has increased productivity by 75%. This solution has also allowed us to more reliably capture marketing data from Attorneys." - Charles Collins.
Tell us about your project. What makes it “innovative?”
Our Marketing Activity Tracker is a solution that bridges the gap between our Time Entry (Elite) and CRM (Intellipad) systems. The goal was to eliminate duplicative data entry and allow for a seamless method for sharing common data between two systems that do not communicate with each other. The purpose of the application is to identify time entries completed by attorneys, which are classified as marketing activities. Once identified, those activities are entered into our CRM system, and profiled with additional supporting information by the firm’s Administrative Assistants. This application streamlines the data flow between the two systems and allows us to track all of the marketing activities performed by our attorneys.
By presenting this data to our Administrative Assistants in a consolidated view, we enable faster processing and entry of the supporting data. This also eliminates duplicate data entry, which was present in the manual process that we used to follow.
Prior to this application, our staff had to manually review a paper report of attorney time entries, determine what was valid, and then manually enter that into our CRM system, rekeying all of the information. With this new application, we have eliminated the need for data entry by automating the flow of information from our time entry system to our CRM.
Here is a simple example to illustrate the process:
We have a task that runs automatically each morning. This task identifies all time entries profiled as marketing activities. Our staff uses the Marketing Activity Tracker to view all of these types of time entries, which have not yet been pushed to the CRM. The staff has the ability to filter the list by attorney or office location. At this point, time entries are viewed and assigned an Activity Code (pulled directly from the CRM). They have the ability to add individuals attending the activity, modify the timecard narrative/comment (if needed) and submit. Upon submission, the entry appears in the CRM as an activity for each attendee and event.
If the entry does not meet the criteria for entry into our CRM the staff can remove it from the list.
The Add\Edit Attendees button presents the user with a dropdown list of all individuals in our CRM. They can filter that dropdown by First or Last Name. For each event our staff can select up to 10 attendees.
How was your solution implemented?
The application is a web-based .NET application that uses SQL to facilitate the back-end flow of data between the two systems. With input from the end users (Marketing and Administrative Assistants), we designed the form to automate and streamline their existing process, thus eliminating their pain points.
What can other firms learn from your experience?
We have found that simple solutions can sometimes have the biggest impact on our users. Through identifying the bottlenecks and inefficiencies of this process, we were able to quickly provide a robust and streamlined solution that has increased productivity by 75%. This solution has also allowed us to more reliably capture marketing data from Attorneys.
Do you have a story to tell? Let us know about the innovative solutions that you’ve implemented at your firm here.