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Dundas & Wilson
eBECS and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Deliver Cutting-edge Client and Contact Management Solution
As the global financial crisis struck, 400-lawyer law firm Dundas & Wilson found itself needing a clear view of its client and contact relationships. With this clarity, it was able to market itself effectively, identify fresh opportunities to serve clients, and communicate efficiently with clients and contacts. Delivered by eBECS, an investment in Microsoft Dynamics CRM provided this transformational step change in performance and true business returns.
For leading UK law firm Dundas & Wilson, this reshaping of the financial, client and legal markets provided new opportunities and therefore drove a renewed focus in increasing the effectiveness of its client-facing IT systems. At a time when the firm needed to be fully leveraging its contact and client base, and showcasing the firm’s skills and abilities, its marketing systems for doing so were poorly integrated.
“Client and contact information was scattered around the business, with the marketing department and individual lawyers and legal teams using their own Microsoft Office Access databases,” explains Tom Clowes, head of programme management at Dundas & Wilson.
“We’d organise a marketing event, and would then require each individual lawyer to suggest contacts to invite, which inevitably led to duplication and further work. Or we’d need to send legal bulletins to particular clients regarding a change in the law, and would again have to build the circulation list from scratch.”
And while such inefficiencies had been tolerated in the past, a tougher economic climate—and a changed legal marketplace—meant that finding an alternative approach was vital.
With the legal market changing, for instance, meaning that core lines of business such as merger and acquisition activity were contracting. Corporate clients, too, were increasingly requiring Law Firms to work to fixed budgets—resulting in calls to better match lawyers’ skillsets to particular pieces of client work, in order to maintain profitability.
And better collaboration between the various law firms working for a particular corporate client was also an emerging requirement, with fixed-duration ‘panels’ becoming commonplace further adding complexity to the information required.
“We needed a richer and more sophisticated way in which to view clients and contacts—as well as track the quid pro quo in respect of referrals,” sums up Clowes.
For clients—especially large corporate clients—the focus was on developing a single, firm-wide client ‘view’, detailing key client relationship holders, billing activity, ongoing work, marketing campaigns and current opportunities.
And for contacts, the firm needed to be able to categorise them in a richer and more granular manner, recognising—for example—that a competitor could also be a lawyer in a firm with which Dundas & Wilson was obliged to collaborate with on behalf of a specific client. But only for a specified duration, and only in respect of work for that client.
Accordingly, Dundas & Wilson called in Microsoft Gold Certified Partner eBECS to help identify the best solution for its needs. The answer: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4, tightly integrated to users’ existing—and familiar—Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 desktops.
“The eBECS people readily understood how a law firm operates, and quickly identified improved ways of working,” says Clowes. “Best of all, they helped us build the business case to put to the firm’s partners, emphasising the advantages of leveraging our lawyers’ existing familiarity with Microsoft Outlook. We could give our staff better access to the information that they needed, in a way that was already familiar to them.”
And the business case was compelling—especially in the changed legal marketplace, and tougher economy, in which the firm found itself operating.
Lawyers could use the software to store and access client information held by different departments, for instance—ensuring that information on panels, events, opportunities and tenders could be shared. Business development staff could use tools in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to track the progress of a tender, keeping tabs on contacts and prospective clients. And the marketing team could manage multi client events, the budget for which might be drawn from several departments.
Internal efficiencies would be boosted, too, with the firm being able to create workflows within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, to automate business processes such as updating client details, creating mailing lists, and notifying employees of changes in the status of a client.
The decision made, and go-ahead given, eBECS worked closely the Dundas & Wilson project team, planned a phased deployment. In May 2008, the solution was deployed to the first 100 users, and was extended to every practice areas and office by the first half of 2009.
The firm’s 400 lawyers now have comprehensive client data at their fingertips, says Clowes, enabling them to provide clients with a more personalised service. In addition, it has become much easier to identify opportunities for clients to benefit from other services from the firm.
The effectiveness of marketing activities, too, has been enhanced. Marketing campaigns are more easily managed and monitored, with lawyers finding it easier to manage their events, with user-generated views and reports.
Client-service leaders, too, have a 360-degree view of practice initiatives, accessing views across different areas of practices, ensuring a coordinated approach for clients.
Impressively, too, says Clowes, new users require minimal training. Lawyers can use the familiar Microsoft Outlook interface with a minimum of training—taking less than an hour to get started in most cases.
“In fact, the results have been so impressive that in early 2013 we took the decision to upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,” he says. “With personalised dashboards and reports, the ‘look and feel’ of Microsoft Outlook 2011, and much greater flexibility in terms of workflow and data presentation, the business case was just as compelling as the original move to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.”