Morton Fraser is a top ten independent Scottish law firm with revenues in excess of $29 million. The progressive firm has a commitment to clarity: clarity of pricing, clarity of client communication and clarity of advice.
As part of its progressive model, and supporting its clarity commitment, Morton Fraser is keen to empower attorneys at every level to take responsibility for all aspects of the client relationship. From ensuring the accurate time recording required to better understand operational costs and business capacity, to driving down aged debt and minimizing the age of Work in Progress (WIP), the firm is encouraging responsibility across the business to underpin good, client-focused decision making.
Morton Fraser required a financial reporting solution that provided not only a top level perspective for the Finance Director and Chief Executive, but also information to support department heads in managing their business and to provide attorneys with rapid access to their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
How BigHand Quantum is providing Morton Fraser with key financial information into operational costs and business capacity to help with the firm’s strategic planning. Having reviewed the market, Morton Fraser opted to implement the data agnostic BigHand Quantum financial data warehouse (formerly known as DW Reporting, Quantum), which was developed specifically for the legal market. The target was to go live as quickly as possible, to tie in with the new practice management deployment, which was set to be deployed in June 2017. McClure expands, “Working with BigHand’s small, nimble team has been really refreshing – enabling us to cut through the bureaucracy and get things done quickly.” Indeed, despite the tight timescales, BigHand Quantum was rolled out within weeks of the practice management solution, going live in July 2017. It uses data from the practice management system and is refreshed overnight to provide everyone across the business with the insight required.
While traditionally law firms have used time recording as the basis for billing clients, with the rise in fixed fee contracts, the accurate recording of time is now key both to understanding the costs of manufacture of legal services and gauging the business’s resourcing capacity. He explains, “Hiring decisions are increasingly informed by this information - I work closely with the Chief Executive, looking at the Time KPI to understand and identify capacity concerns across the business. If a department head insists the team is stretched, for example, but the KPIs reveal there is a 20% capacity in that team, that points to other issues in terms of time recording that need to be addressed.”
The firm is using fee information to track progress against budget and flag any areas of potential concern, as well as tracking WIP to identify aged WIP that may be hard to turn into fees.
It helps management to focus on specific teams or individuals demonstrating a problem with older WIP. Finance is also making extensive use of BigHand Quantum to analyze and sort aged debt – for example debt over 120 days – to better identify potential problems and prioritize debt recovery efforts. As a result, Morton Fraser’s aged debt has reduced significantly in recent months.
In addition to flagging up the age of WIP to draw attorneys’ attention to potential areas that need to be addressed, Morton Fraser is also using the BigHand Quantum dashboards to further reinforce the need for attorneys to meet expectations regarding accurate time recording. While in the past, attorneys would be entitled to a bonus if they hit 80% of chargeable time targets, the bonus is only provided now when 100% of target is achieved.
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