John Guyer of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder talks about Microsoft and Client Profiles, and how this great pairing of companies helped place his firm on a path towards the holy grail of law firm business development – mining relationships.
• Firm: Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
• Providence-Based Regional Firm
• 3 Offices
• 165 Lawyers
• 350 Total Staff
• Previous Technology: Custom SQL marketing database
• CRM4Legal Project: Firm-Wide Rollout
• Business Driver: Technology to support the growing need to identify relationships (and potential business conflicts) associated with rapid firm growth. The need for a firm-wide database of contacts, companies, and related parties to act as the “relationship portal” and to integrate with the firm’s other applications.
There are a lot of applications out there that claim to do CRM. We went down this road very purposefully and we felt very good about it from the very beginning and we feel great about it today. One of the things I look for as much as possible in a piece of software is a nice homogenous solution. What I mean by homogenous is this: I don’t know if you’ve been around long enough to remember the “old days” of technology where a variety of things were used that didn’t work very well together. It was a very “heterogeneous” environment. Microsoft, in those years, was very much a rising star, and as more and more people adopted Microsoft technologies, we had fewer and fewer problems of integration between various key products. Microsoft CRM has benefitted from this development in that, with Microsoft CRM, you have a very homogenous solution that allows you to integrate with the variety of things you have.
Integration with Your Enterprise
I’m relatively new to the legal industry in that I’ve been involved in this particular vertical for about seven years, but I’ve been in software for a long time. I remember to this day, one of my first impressions in legal software was the maintenance release on the service release of a product and it floored me. And it wasn’t unique to one particular product. You see this regularly in the legal space. The software is poorly written, the integration is poorly done, and the more you introduce from the various vendors, the more unstable your environment gets and the higher your maintenance costs go. With Microsoft CRM, we’ve stabilized our environment and reduced our support costs dramatically by focusing on solutions that work together with minimal hooks as possible. By this I mean products that simplify the integration points. This is a strategy that Microsoft uses internally as well where they simplify the amount of integration points to as few a number of standardized conduits as possible. You get that same benefit from MS CRM — it’s a great way to go because it really reduces that complexity.
Simply put, Microsoft has made our world easier by getting as much of the world as possible to use their products. With Microsoft, I don’t have to worry about running an alternative product and hearing the words, “yeah, but it doesn’t work with Microsoft Word” or, “why aren’t we using Office?”. We recently acquired a firm that was using alternative technology and it was interesting talking to their IT staff about some of those same conversations, and those were the types of things they were hearing. If you standardized on technologies that the market is predominantly using you will be better off. Microsoft CRM integrates with Office, it integrates with Outlook, it integrates with Word, and that is a fantastic way to go.
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