Legal departments seeking greater transparency into legal costs are often overwhelmed by the abundance of products and so-called "eBilling solutions." Our experience has shown there is no single eBilling solution that is appropriate for every legal department. Rather, a structured research and selection process is crucial in ensuring that a legal department selects, or develops internally, a tool with necessary functionalities.
Many factors go into ensuring that a proper eBilling option is selected. For one, in-house attorneys are advised to clearly articulate their specific eBilling needs. Relevant questions include:
- Which eBilling issues were most problematic in the past? Which products/solutions address these?
- Does the department want a solution for the entire legal department or just for certain practice areas?
- What level of billing detail does the department need?
- Should the product have prospective budgeting capabilities?
- How much training is required to be able to use the database?
- Who should have permission to update and edit the billing database?
- Who will have viewer permissions?
- Can all legal service providers (e.g., law firms and other ancillary legal service providers) use the database?
- Is the solution compatible with existing infrastructure?
- How dedicated are providers’ support teams?
- How do the costs of competing solutions compare?
- What is the cost of switching providers or implementing a new service provider?
Furthermore, the legal department is urged to consider that eBilling tools should not be seen as end-all solutions. Technology vendors constantly update, refine and re-issue their products. Sometimes these revisions occur as new capabilities are developed; sometimes vendors hold back capabilities as ways to increase revenue. In addition to specific capabilities, legal departments are urged to consider the economic viability of their prospective providers in making an informed eBilling decision. For example, a product that is backed by a business conglomerate may benefit from greater resources (e.g., large research and development budget, robust client support offerings, well-marketed materials). Conversely, a product offered by a smaller business may be more willing to customize their services specifically towards their clients’ needs.
We have been in the trenches with our colleagues at innovative legal departments, developing actionable eBilling solutions. Believe us, it is not easy! That said, our market research abilities, combined with our experience in effectively sourcing high-quality services at favorable costs has enabled us to guide our clients down the path towards greater billing transparency.