Over the last few years, there has been an increase in law firms growing through mergers and acquisition of other firms. However, despite operating as a single brand, they have continued using their own separate versions of InterAction. The multiple instances of InterAction are often across different offices, regions, and sometimes also practice areas. In most cases, local offices have historically pursued different approaches to CRM and BD, so they configured InterAction to their own individual working practices.
We are finding that many of these customers are now re-visiting their InterAction CRM systems to create a single, central hub for all their business development (BD) data as firms see the business imperative of having a global view of their clients, relationships and BD efforts.
Merging multiple installations to create one central system – that also has the buy in of all the users – can be challenging. So, here are some top tips to help you smoothly navigate through the process:
- The most common mistake? To take a technical approach
Often, firms merging different versions of InterAction make the common mistake of thinking of it as a purely technical exercise – but mostly, it’s a business process exercise. Yes, you need to push data from one system to the other, but before that you need to align the system configuration so that it accurately reflects the entire firm’s business processes, best practices and even key objectives. Establishing a standardised configuration for the merged system is key.
- Think about the project team
The right blend of project team – one that represents all business stakeholders, headed by a Partner level executive to drive the programme forward. Merging multiple instances of InterAction across regions becomes more complicated, so you must consider who the best members will be. Say you have InterAction environments in the UK, US, and Australia – which individuals would play the most effective role to help pull together a programme approach that will work across the different time zones and territories?
- A robust gap analysis – or lack of – could make or break
Don’t circumvent a thorough and robust gap analysis – as it’ll help you to determine what the new centralised system should look like, taking into account the ultimate design and configuration of InterAction that will work for the entire firm. And yes, it’s a time and labour-intensive exercise, but worth it for the long run. To illustrate from a design standpoint – in one instance of InterAction, the activity of “meeting” may mean a face-to-face or phone call with a client. In another instance of the system, the same activity of a meeting may be categorised as a client follow up, prospect meeting, BD interaction or any other. So, in the new configuration, how should the activity be categorised?
- A ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for a clean slate
Accurate and up-to-date data underpins the success of any CRM programme. Merging of multiple versions of InterAction genuinely presents the perfect “clean slate” opportunity for data cleansing – don’t simply do a wholesale migration of data. Cleanse the data – remove out of date contacts, de-duplicate entries, identify which historical marketing, BD and working lists should be migrated, determine the new data configuration via a data mapping exercise and even conduct a User Acceptance testing for it.
- Change management – timeliness is critical
Change management is often an afterthought. Also, many CRM project teams use training and change management interchangeably. The goal of change management is to secure buy-in of the whole business to a new way of working. So, make the case for the new business processes, illustrate how it will help the individual users, and how the new system will enable the firm to meet it growth objectives, and so on.
- Integration with other business-critical systems – don’t underestimate its complexity
Typically, in addition to InterAction, firms also use email marketing systems, practice management systems, accounting solutions and such. When moving to a new installation of the system, ensure that you also re-integrate with the other business-critical systems. Don’t under-estimate the complexity of these integrations and weave them into the overall project plan.
We at LexisNexis routinely help firms undertake such projects. We have well-oiled processes and methodologies and can advise on approaches to take and pitfalls to avoid. We can smoothly conduct everything from gap analysis, data mapping, integrations with third-party systems and testing through to go live. Get in touch with us via your Account Manager if this is an area you are exploring for your firm.