Trowers & Hamlins was keen to embrace new thinking around better time data hygiene. Although time recording performance was good across the firm, it still felt that further improvement was possible. Trowers & Hamlins wanted to get all fee earners performing consistently and compliantly with its time policy; but it was also sensitive to the burden and challenge that contemporaneous time recording presents to its teams. If the firm could find a frictionless way to ensure prompt and accurate posting of time, then it could unlock the benefits of enhanced revenue, faster collections and reduced write-downs – without impacting fee earning staff.
Richard Peecock, Finance Systems Manager at Trowers & Hamlins, explains: “Most billing queries and issues go back to the original time entries on the matter. We recognised that if we collected better data from the outset, this would save us problems down the line.
“There are good arguments for this rigorous approach, both from a recoverability point of view and from a management point of view. First, it is well known that the longer the gap between working your time and recording your time, the harder it is to capture things accurately, with a resultant drop-off in data quality. Secondly, a lot of the management matrices are around your work in progress and lock up days. It’s the lifeblood of a firm, really. It follows that if you’re not on top of your time, you’re not really going to know the true value of those.
“Anything that can help you capture time more accurately, leading to better data and in turn better billing quality can only be a good thing – for the fee earners, the firm and its clients.”
Time Policy Manager came recommended to one of the Trowers & Hamlins’ partners by another Pinnacle client. After the demonstration, it was clear that its ability to proactively enforce multiple time policies across the firm could be that ‘frictionless’ solution the firm was looking for.
Richard says: “To me, the genius of Time Policy Manager is its simplicity. It just does what it says on the tin, and it is brilliant.”
Time Policy Manager is highly configurable to fit around law firms’ time policies, existing time recording software and the broader IT landscape.
To run effectively for Trowers & Hamlins, Pinnacle configured the product to work with its browser-based Elite 3E Workspace time recording software and Citrix environment. The grace period, which determines how soon the application chases missing time, was initially set to only provide prompts for old time as a starting point.
Pinnacle worked closely with the Trowers & Hamlins’ IT team to identify any cultural or technical issues during the testing phase and addressed them before the production deployment.
“The consistent timeliness of the time captured is a seismic change,” says Richard Peecock of Time Policy Manager’s impact.
While there were some initial concerns how the product would be received across the business, Richard says there was ultimately very little resistance. He says: “Getting the backing of management for Time Policy Manager was a huge contributor to the successful rollout. Time recording can be a delicate area for any law firm, but here we just wanted everyone to understand that this was about improving where we could.”
Since the initial rollout the firm has further reduced the grace period: it now has over 600 fee earners recording and posting their time faster than before.
The biggest business benefit to date? The reduction in unrecorded time being missed when billing. Explains Richard: “Every month when we have a big push to get bills out, we can see that the only notable time missing is from people who are on holiday.
This also contributes to better client conversations and a greater ability to manage expectations around ongoing matters: everyone knows that at the end of the month the time that should be there is there. Richard explains: “It gives teams internally more confidence in the numbers they are looking at.”
Robert Cohen, Head of Product at Pinnacle, led the deployment of the solution at the firm. He says: “We had a very smooth rollout of Time Policy Manager with Trowers & Hamlins. The team gave us prompt access to everything we needed and their partners supporting the deployment made a huge difference. We know how powerful Time Policy Manager can be in terms of the operational improvement it makes and the intelligence it provides, but it has been great to see how much Trowers & Hamlins recognised that within a very short period of time.”