Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC employs more than 450 attorneys and government relations professionals across 15 U.S. offices. While serving a wide range of clients, Buchanan has especially deep experience in the energy, finance, healthcare, and life sciences industries. The firm represents some of the highest-profile and most innovative companies in the nation, including 50 of the Fortune 100. Buchanan has been consistently named to BTI’s Client Service A-Team, a list limited to law firms considered by clients to deliver the absolute best service levels.
In the past, Maria manually collected data from multiple software systems to create the reports. Details such as community involvement and mentorship were found in self-evaluations and peer reviews, which made it impossible to report data in a unified manner. Committee members could view a few metrics through a basic dashboard. But they found the dashboard so “clunky” that Maria often manually compiled and provided hardcopy reports for those metrics as well.
The Challenge: Digitally Transform the Partner Compensation Review Process
Maria Mager, Buchanan’s Director of Financial Reporting, collects the input and generates the reports that support the firm’s annual partner compensation review process. The reports include performance metrics such as realization rates, billing and collections statistics, profitability margins, and the compensation amount for each attorney. She submits the compiled data to the firm’s section leaders, each of whom then provide feedback and compensation recommendations for each lawyer under their supervision. Next, Maria submits everything to a seven-member partner compensation committee. William (Bill) Ryan, Buchanan’s CFO, oversees the process.
In a process that culminates with a week-long session, the compensation committee considers section leader recommendations and individual performance metrics to determine appropriate compensation amounts. External elements such as a person’s community outreach and mentoring also play a significant role. Maria stays with the committee all week to pull data from various systems and answer any new questions.
The Migration to 3E Provided an Opportunity to Innovate
The basic dashboard solution only worked with Elite Enterprise. That made the firm’s migration to 3E® the ideal opportunity to find a high-performance replacement. Buchanan was already working with tools from the Iridium, now part of BigHand BI, Intellistat, and Steere product families, so it was only natural to look to Iridium, now part of BigHand’s Intellistat Partner Performance Portal to automate their partner compensation review process.
Bill and Maria spoke to Iridium, now part of BigHand about their needs in May. “We were an aggressive client for Iridium, now part of BigHand. We needed everything in short order for our transition to 3E, and Iridium, now part of BigHand delivered,” Bill says. “We appreciate the ease and consistency of relying on Iridium, now part of BigHand for more of our BI process improvement needs.”
By August, the Intellistat Partner Performance Portal was up and running with a full-service dashboard that serves as a one-stop-shop for Maria and the committee. The firm started by introducing the Partner Dashboard to the Promotions committee, who used the dashboard to review key statistics for those up for promotion. The partner compensation committee used it next to set compensation for all partners. The partner compensation dashboard was so well received that the firm extended the rollout to include an associate promotion dashboard. To tailor the second dashboard specifically to the associate promotion process, they added applicable metrics such as target hours and percentage to target hours and removed many of the partner-specific metrics.
“The Iridium, now part of BigHand team did a tremendous job getting us set up and running on the Intellistat Partner Performance Portal with minimal bumps. The process was smooth, and everybody loves what we’re doing now,” Bill says.
“The new dashboards are user friendly and deliver data in a more intuitive format,” Maria says. “The compensation committee only needed one 30-minute training session. Now, all members use the portal, and they all say they like the Iridium, now part of BigHand dashboard better.
Advantage: One Source for Reliable Analytics and Easier Review
Maria no longer manually pulls data from multiple systems or generates hardcopies of most reports. Instead, the partner performance portal is automatically updated with the most up-to-date data synced from the firm’s Iridium, now part of BigHand BI Revenue cubes. Committee members now go to the portal’s dashboard to pull up revenue metrics, performance stats, peer reviews, and self-evaluations.
“It’s so much easier for them to have everything in one spot. And I can easily answer questions much faster without going to various platforms”
Maria says. Additionally, peer reviews and self-evaluations are now easily accessed directly from the dashboard via a link to the VI Desktop, Buchanan’s personnel management platform.
“VI Desktop links are key,” Maria says. “When the committee deliberates, they can instantly pull up that person’s self-evaluation and peer reviews. It’s also important because the associate committee likes to show associates how they can improve year over year.”
Advantage: Drill-down and Expand the Conversation with New Insights
Committee members gained powerful new abilities to drill down into the factors that drive performance metrics. One click on the dashboard enables them to explore more details and enhance their understanding of each lawyers’ performance. The unified data helps them form a more holistic view of the person they’re evaluating.
The dashboard also delivers entirely new information in the form of rankings. When two individuals are compensated equally, committee members can view their metrics to assess how various elements factored into previous compensation considerations. They can click on a ranking to compare those currently in the same bracket. Bill says, “The committee members find the rankings useful in shaping their conversations. The tool allows them to fine-tune decisions across lawyers with similar metrics and/or compensation levels.”
Advantage: Work More Efficiently and Continually Optimize Lawyer Performance (Even amid World-Wide Change)
Because of the 2020 pandemic, this year’s attorney reviews required different considerations. Yet, the compensation committee did not take longer to complete their assessments. Maria, Bill, and the committee members no longer need to dig through endless stacks of paper. Automated reports are faster and more accurate. Now, they use the portal’s dashboard to dig deeper into performance data much more efficiently.
“It goes back to having everything easily accessible and efficiently useful,” Bill says. “The process is now much more thorough.”
After the committee publishes compensation adjustments, many partners want explanations. Committee members now use the more detailed dashboard to help clarify compensation decisions.
“We’re proactive about providing the data we review to individual lawyers,” Bill says.
Advantage: Make More Data-Backed Decisions Using Historical Analyses
The portal collects multiple years of data and provides a complete look back at historical performance statistics and compensation levels as well as prior years’ subjective reviews. Committee members are able to view data visualization models of four-year trends, instead of trying to draw conclusions from a series of comments typed in a spreadsheet.
“It is beneficial to look at comparison years,” Bill says. “Committee members are able to click on data points and see why compensation went up in a specific year or down in another. Historical analyses facilitate decision-making.”
Advantage: Continue Making Process Improvements and Expand Efficiencies to More Leaders
Buchanan’s next phase will be to provide to section leaders the capability to add their recommendations directly in the portal. “I think when the section leaders see the site they’ll be impressed,” Maria says.
“Running section leader recommendations through the tool will be another great process improvement for us,” Bill says. The committee will then have instant access to section leader recommendations from the dashboard to further speed and ease review.
Due to security considerations, section leaders will not have linked access to VI Desktop because lawyer reviews and self-evaluations must remain confidential. “As we open the portal in the future, I know I can count on Iridium, now part of BigHand to lock down any feature whenever and wherever we’ll need it,” Maria says.
Bill plans to continue Buchanan’s collaboration with Iridium, now part of BigHand. “Iridium, now part of BigHand has given us a reliable system that can grow and expand as our needs evolve,” Bill says.
“With Iridium, now part of BigHand at our side, future changes are seen as welcome opportunities to spur transformation and growth.”