Parker Bullen were pleased to participate in a case study on behalf of InfoTrack which was subsequently published in LPM Magazine.
One of the main obstacles to growth in any modern business is the complexity of processes and IT systems necessary to their functioning. Law firms are not immune to those challenges and ensuring uniformity across geographically separate offices at Parker Bullen was the task given to IT manager Julian Ganley. He explains that the firm hired him in 2016 to untangle its tech and help it grow into the next decade.
“We’re currently a £3.6m turnover business and we’re aiming to grow organically to £5.5m in the next five years – we’re not really looking at acquisitions.” As conveyancing is a major part of the firm’s business – approximately 30% of its staff work in that area – Julian says that getting that right was crucial to the firm’s growth plans.
However, the firm’s IT setup was holding that endeavour back. Julian explains that, when he arrived at Parker Bullen, it was using three different case management systems (CMS) across different departments. “Everything had to be duplicated to deal with invoicing and time recording, which was very time consuming,” he says.
Julian’s goal was to streamline the firm’s IT setup and find a single CMS that could cover all of its caseload – Tikit’s Partner4Windows platform was eventually chosen because of its 27 third-party integration capabilities. And, when it came to looking for a new search provider, the firm wanted full integration there, too: the solution to that piece of the puzzle was bringing on InfoTrack.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
Although Tikit, which went live in September 2019, was a vast improvement on what came before, it was only the first part of the integration puzzle, as the existing search services used by the firm were unable to integrate with the new CMS. “Everything, in relation to slip processing, had to be manually entered into Tikit. All of our quotes had to be manually created. That meant a lot of administrative work but also potential errors – which then had to be credited and charged to the client account again.” After implementing InfoTrack’s systems, however, all of that changed.
In addition to its CMS, he says that the firm had been looking to bring its website into the new decade. “The initial design for the new website included our own quote system, which wouldn’t have integrated with InfoTrack – it would have been a manual entry system. But, while our managing partner was developing the website, he identified that we could integrate the online quoting system directly with InfoTrack if we used Perfect Portal, because all of those systems talked to each other.”
Julian explains exactly how the integration of its various new systems intertwine when creating a conveyancing quote: “Perfect Portal is integrated with InfoTrack so we can go to the Perfect Portal page, key in the property details, and then InfoTrack will pull the correct searches for that particular postcode. That information goes straight back into Perfect Portal; it’s itemised in the quote facility, then it goes out as an email to the client with a PDF attachment; the quote, with our fees, is stamped into that alongside InfoTrack’s search fees. The two systems together work brilliantly.” And much of the quoting process is also dynamic: “Now, if any of the search fees change, the website will pick that up automatically, because of these integrated systems.”
Being able to integrate this trio of systems not only delivers the individual benefits of all three, it also stacks their efficiency gains on top of one another, Julian says, as it creates a “single source of truth”. “InfoTrack pulls relevant information out of our CMS – and it only needs to be entered once. The administrative overheads of having to key the same information into three or four different websites is so time consuming, and the potential for errors is a major liability too. Conveyancing jobs take less time now – that’s very important to us,” he explains.
He says that the biggest time-saving gain due to automating processes has been in slip integration: “The charges that InfoTrack makes come straight into Tikit and the account, so the conveyancing person doesn’t have to do anything at all. The slips get sent straight to accounts for approval.”
And with those efficiency gains the firm has been able to make better use of its human resources, he says. “Now that the search process has been streamlined, we have junior staff members taking on those tasks to a larger extent. The fee earners are freed up to do more fee earning.”
Meshing these complex systems together seems daunting, but Julian explains that, when it came time to integrate InfoTrack’s software with Tikit and Perfect Portal, InfoTrack did all the work: “They mapped all the API links within their system into our system – they basically did all that for us.” He says the delivery and implementation went so well that, despite having weekly meetings scheduled with the firm’s InfoTrack account manager, there was little to discuss: “It got to a point where I didn’t need to talk to her – everything was going so smoothly.”
Overall, Julian says there’s been very little disruption. “We do have people who struggle with change, but I’ve not heard a peep out of anyone while we’ve been moving over to InfoTrack. The times we have had queries with specific searches they’ve been addressed by InfoTrack’s helpdesk. They’re very hands-on, which is really helpful; our staff can have an online chat or just phone them up, and they’re able to screen-share to see what’s happening,” he says.
Julian says that Parker Bullen still has more to gain from its partnership with InfoTrack, however. There are a number of features it hasn’t tapped into yet, including an anti-money laundering facility and an online AP1 and SDLT form submissions system, which it will come to in good time. “Currently we’re taking a one-step-at-a-time approach, but we’ll be taking a look at those things later in 2020.”