What is quality information?

Quality information is the foundation of any good decision making.  When running a law firm, the quality of the information you use can significantly impact your client relationships, and sometimes even your ability to practice.  Day in and day out there are so many critical decisions to make about productivity, compensation, staffing and more. The cost of not having the quality information you need can be astronomical.   Here are the attributes you should be seeking to ensure you are making your decisions on a foundation of quality information:

  1. Timely: available in an amount of time that allows those receiving the information to be able to act on it in an impactful way
  2. Accurate/Complete: correct information that is presented in a way that allows for thorough analysis
  3. Relevant: relevant to the spere of influence or interest the user has
  4. Consistent/Predictable: the user is familiar enough with the information

Here are some tips to help improve your information

  1. Create a standard set of management reports that you review regularly. At first, limit the report to 1 or 2 areas (for instance billable hours and an AR aging). As you grow confidence in the quality of the information, expand your reports. The key is to build the quality before expanding to other areas.
  2. Limit manual preparation. Each time a person has to manipulate data to prepare a report it lessens the quality. Set up your reporting structure so that the amount of manual intervention is kept to a minimum. Excel and other cost effective products can do this fairly easily if set up the right way.
  3. Have a reporting calendar to set a schedule for the information you want to see. For instance, review your AR every Friday, financials on the 10th of the month and billing on the 15th. This sets expectations for the information required to be available
  4. Require workpapers. While you may not look at each one of them, there should be workpapers to support all the financial information you use in running your firm. Whether bank statements, payroll reports or trust account reconciliations, preparing workapers improves the quality of your information… and it is just good practice.

The data your firm produces is dependent upon an ecosystem of people, processes and technology. As a manager of the Law Firm it is incumbent upon you to make sure your most critical decisions are driven by your intuition and supported by insights obtained from quality information.

Presentation: Getting the Most Out of Your Finance Function

Derek Barto conducts an insightful conversation discussing how law firms generate reliable and timely information to better run their businesses.  In this presentation you will discover how to consistently access your Firm’s financial data and learn strategies to manage the processes involved. 

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