customer demand better knowledge management; lawyers who have all the information they need at their fingertips. The days of having to descend into basement archives to look up details or walk into a colleague’s office to catch up are long gone, with legal project management software becoming the norm for law firms. avant-garde lawyers. For those still mired in traditional methods, the COVID-19 pandemic presented an ultimatum to adapt or die – assuming it wasn’t already too late.
By its nature, the practice of law generates large amounts of data over time, most of which must be retained indefinitely and remain immediately accessible. But that data needs to be organized in a way that it can be retrieved at any time, easily understood, and stored in silos only to the extent necessary, to enable cross-checking and integration of related knowledge.
Knowledge Management vs Legal Project Management
Knowledge management has always been an integral part of the operation of any law firm, but the technology available to support it has come an extremely long way in a very short time. Lawyers are busy professionals who don’t have time to sift through tons of unrelated or irrelevant data. Managing the solution should therefore be as simple, efficient and orderly as technology can make it. Fortunately, information management and search capabilities have become much more powerful over the past few years, making it easier and more efficient to explore to find exactly the information you want, when you need it.
Legal project management software goes beyond knowledge management to streamline the planning, execution and closure of individual projects:
In the initial phase, project management tools can be set up offering instant access. It can mean anything from the scope of the working hypotheses, the objectives, the deliverables and the initial documentation, to define the expectations of the client.
During the phase where the actual work is done, it is important to be able to track progress against the original plan – both from a scope and budget perspective. Powerful project management dashboards can be customized to track status, risks and costs over time and communicate this information to relevant stakeholders.
Activity tracking makes it easy to manage assigned tasks and track dependencies. By keeping everything in one place, collaboration and communication is streamlined as the entire team works through one platform.
In the final phase, a legal project management suite should document all remaining completion tasks. You can capture customer feedback, measure project progress against the original plan, and capture both best practices and lessons learned.
This information can be used to inform future marketing efforts and client presentations, demonstrating your company’s ability to deliver work and improve efficiency through technology.
Finally, the data captured can help you identify opportunities and challenges – information you’ll need to implement continuous improvement and gain competitive advantage.
Choosing the right legal project management technology for your firm
Technology can be a huge enabler of effective legal project management, but identifying the right system for your practice can be challenging. Any solution you choose should both allow your business to run more efficiently and ensure that you are more sensitive to change.
Here are the most important features to look for in a legal project management solution:
- Secure document management reduces version control issues, ensuring that all parties are working on the most up-to-date draft of any document. Most importantly, it keeps key documents safe, ensuring compliance with governance standards and regulatory requirements such as GDPR and CCPA and providing peace of mind for both your business and its customers. It lets you track updates, changes, and questions in real time with fewer attachments sent back and forth.
- Integrated communication tools keep all project communications in one place. Colleagues can collaborate remotely, whether across the office or across the country – or across the world. Cloud-based file access makes it easy to get the answers you need, wherever you are.
- Job scheduling and tracking functionality help project managers to systematize projects, manage tasks and track progress. This allows for a clear visualization of upcoming steps and actions and who is responsible for managing each. It also makes it easier for project managers to manage multiple projects at once and for lawyers to immediately identify what needs to be addressed next.
- Simple workflow and automation tools allow everyone in the company to easily create workflows and automate programs without the need for coding knowledge. Automating repetitive manual tasks saves time and effort, simplifying complex processes and reducing workloads. This allows colleagues to focus their time on issues that require their unique knowledge and expertise.
- Real-time project monitoring dashboards give at-a-glance updates on projects with real-time data, not static reports at intervals that may not provide a clear picture of progress.
- Easy Access management also gives customers the visibility they need. Making it easier for customers to self-service by finding the information they need in their spare time relieves pressure on your colleagues and provides more convenience for customers. Secure document storage means you can provide them with this access, safe in the knowledge that they can only see what you want them to see.
While these are must-have features, law firms should also consider their unique needs. When faced with a variety of options, flexibility may be among the most important. Adopting technology like HighQ can help your business adapt to stay competitive and allow you to rest easy knowing you’ve found a solution that reflects your current – and future – approach to LPM.
Learn more about why innovative law firms so often turn to HighQ.