Dynamics CRM and the Law: From the Small Firm to the A.G.’s Office

We would like to paint for our readers a picture of how solutions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Office 365 can reduce repetitive effort in the office, increase the speed and accuracy of your efforts, and provide you with critical data for making accurate and decisive decisions. To illustrate this, we want to show you that Microsoft Dynamics CRM is proven as a flexible solution that is perfect for developing the custom solution to suit the needs of your practice. There are no anecdotal examples of Microsoft Dynamics CRM being used by very small law firms yet because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a server product which also requires other servers. The licensing is expensive to have Dynamics CRM on your servers, and there is much technical work. Now, however, Microsoft offers Dynamics CRM online which works with Office 365. For a low monthly cost smaller practices can now have access to this enterprise software.

Larger law firms with on site Dynamics CRM have been using custom systems like CRM4Legal to manage their practices. The video below shows you some of the capabilities of Dynamics CRM in practice management. We at the Web and I are able to provide the same functionality as customized for your business in just the way you need it. We can implement this for you on Microsoft Dynamics CRM online, making this technology affordable for any size practice.

The Attorney General’s office of Pennsylvania uses Dynamics CRM to manage their caseload along with complex workflows, forms generation and processing, and a heavy load of transactions. The video below shows you how Dynamics CRM handles this complex and demanding environment.

Your firm takes in a lot of data that is lost or disorganized on arrival. Microsoft Dynamics captures it and makes it available for future use. This helps in two ways, entering information only once and re-using it many times saves time, and single event data entry reduces opportunities for errors to be introduced. Right now you have a wonderfully document based business, which is almost paperless, and Dynamics CRM is the fast path to a paperless office.

Your practice has business processes that are time honored. Take for instance a Home Care Application Checklist with Pooled Income Trust. When needed, the current business process requires first finding the checklist on the server. Then, you have to locate the form templates associated with the checklist. After that, you have to locate the contact mechanisms to deliver messages and submit forms as required. You may also in some cases have ancillary case law sources that you may need to check in order to fine-tune your approach to suit the clients’ individual needs. With Dynamics CRM (and also possible on Office 365) this checklist can become an automated workflow. Multiple people can be engaged in a workflow, so you can perform the parts of the work which you do, then a seamless handoff will occur to your assistant(s), and then their completed assignments will be added to the work and returned to you in an approval pipeline for you to review, approve, and release to the next stage. Every form associated with the process is built in to the workflow, and after the data is collected the form is available for immediate print, e-mail, fax, or Adobe *.pdf Acrobat document.

You have mailing lists and mail merges that you will need to do from time to time. Keeping multiple lists involves added complexity when one party is on multiple lists. When that party updates their contact information, you would traditionally need to find them on each and every list you have and update their contact information. With an enterprise system like CRM and Office 365, you can update a contact in one place and have the record propagate to each list. When those mailing lists are related to sales, Dynamics CRM has the campaign management features to help you track the success of each campaign. With two years of data that you can collect, we are able to provide you with predictive modeling for future campaigns with +/- 5% variance for a professional practice of one. This means that eventually your data collection efforts will provide you with enough decision-making data that you can maximize the impact of your marketing budgets.

Sales leads, follow-up, and issuing quotes become something new in CRM: a sales pipeline with graphical views can show you how much money is at stake in each sales stage, and it is dynamically updated automatically based on the quotes you issue. This is what that looks like.

Some firms use answering services and assistants to help answer phones and process some correspondence. With CRM, all communications with your accounts and with individual people will be available in one place, a list called activities, which are associated with mail letters, telephone calls, faxes, e-mails, expenses, subpoenas and process service. More activities can be added easily if they suit your business needs. Since you can send and receive E-Mail and faxes right from CRM, you can automatically track those types of correspondence automatically. With rich communications history that results from proper documentation, you will always know the complete history of any account. With the expense records being recorded in these activities, a perfect dataset exists for auditing of your invoices to make sure that every expense has been billed for, and that each expense is associated with the correct account in a format suitable for your tax accountant and for your own internal analyses. In addition, the work you do is tracked when you record the services of work performed in your office or in the court. That means that you have documentation for everything invoiced, and it is a natural result of the use of your schedule.

One axiomatic truth about law practices worldwide is that the management of common forms that will be used many times is necessary. Some of these forms have version updates, and tracking these versions to make sure that the latest version is used is an additional burden. CRM collects enough information about your clients that you can then automatically create every form your client will need at the touch of a button. When we know the data needs of each type of client you have, we can make sure you have an easy way to collect everything you need from your client once, and then be able to issue any forms instantly. If a new version of a form comes out, we only need to put that form up in one place to update it system-wide for all future uses of that form.

Case Status Organizer templates are a great way to have a document-based tracking system to help you organize the workflow of your practice, giving you the insight you need to prioritize your efforts and turn an overview into easy-to-execute details. Dynamics CRM takes that same philosophy and takes it to the next level with a dynamic system of statuses that come with built-in charts and graphs.

The Web and I is a Microsoft Developer authorized to develop accounting modules for Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics CRM. We can provide you with as simple or extensive a system as you need. Smaller practices who hire accountants for taxes will still need the following core accounting features:

• Chart of Accounts
• General Ledger
• Budgeting
• Accounts Payable
• Accounts Receivable
• Collections
• Banking
• Credit Cards
• Assets

We are ready and able and now in the process of working with Microsoft in the creation of accounting modules and complete accounting solutions for Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.