Deciding it’s time for e-Billing

Nathan Wenzel | March 25, 2016 | Articles

Raising the Bar

We understand why general counsel at some companies put off buying a legal e-Billing system as long as they possibly can. Software from legacy vendors can be clunky and hard to setup. At SimpleLegal, we’re raising the bar on what should be expected from a legal operations platform that offers e-Billing and spend management capabilities. Here is our take on why you might benefit from e-Billing:

Greater Organization and Operational Processes

If your invoices are sent to several different people and places (accounts payable, finance, HR, different members of the legal team)… If answering the question, “What’s the status of my invoice?” takes way more time than it should… If budget and headcount conversations are more difficult because you don’t have easy access to reports and data showing expense by matter or expense by matter type… If tracking down law firms for accruals estimates is a time-consuming process…

…it’s time for an e-Billing solution.

Why In-House Legal is Adopting e-Billing and Spend Management Software

e-Billing has become so popular because there are tangible results. Teams with a legal operations platform with e-Billing and spend management capabilities are better budgeted, more organized, and have a much better understanding of their legal spend. A general counsel at one of our customers was told that he had the best system of any department in the entire company for tracking his expenses.

  1. Saving Time and Money: Companies can save considerably on outside legal spending when they have easy access to intuitive data. One SimpleLegal customer was able to analyze billing information across multiple firms doing similar work. By making a few changes, they were able to save over $100,000 on their outside legal spend.Many companies can add to these savings with negotiated QuickPay discounts from their firms (and then actually hit those QuickPay payment deadlines thanks to their streamlined process). Firms offer as much as a 10% discount for paying in a timely manner. Modern applications save in-house counsel hours by automating the cumbersome process of invoice approval routing, accruals, and manually updating Excel sheets. Customer also benefit by reducing time spent dealing with invoices by 21% according to Blue Hill Research.
  2. Low Risk Investment: In the past, legacy e-Billing vendors would charge the law firms a toll to submit invoices to their clients. Today, very few vendors charge the law firms meaning companies can implement e-Billing solutions without straining the relationship with their firms. Most solutions run below 1% of total legal spend. While some legacy vendors still have add-on charges, many vendors now charge a single monthly subscription fee making budgeting and planning easier.
  3. Budget and Headcount Planning: As good data becomes more critical, corporate counsel will rely on metrics to measure performance of outside counsel against budgets and to formulate alternative fee structures. With reliable data from e-Billing, budget and headcount discussions can be a conversation built on a foundation of objective information. Planning future headcount and budget needs without data is a debate without facts. At a certain size of legal team, having an e-Billing solution for legal is as important as having CRM for sales.
  4. Reports: Having access to data in just a few clicks instead of spending weeks pulling together PDF and paper files to 10-key into Excel is one of the major benefits of having an e-Billing management solution. The law firms have the data. They know which timekeepers worked on which matters for how many hours at what rate. Modern e-Billing solutions can provide that data to the client without any extra effort for the firms. With reports, general counsel have easy access to reliable legal data and analytics to explain their budget and plan for future headcount needs.
  5. Simplicity: Modern e-Billing solutions have very little maintenance or down time. On-premise software often required consultants and new hardware purchases with each version upgrade. Cloud-based software (multi-tenant, single-tenant, or private cloud) can be upgraded with zero downtime, zero consultants, and no new hardware to acquire.Painful software implementations that took years have given way to cloud-based solutions with far shorter implementation timeframes. Small legal teams can be up and running in no time — especially with the help of a strong implementation team that takes a partnership mentality and consultative approach to customer experience.
  6. Security: Many companies can benefit from the economics available through multi-tenant, cloud-based software. Third-party security tests (pen-tests) can confirm the safety and privacy of your data. Some companies will have specific security and data retention requirements that require a single-tenant solution. Others, for regulatory or policy reasons, will require entirely separate hardware which can be made available in a private cloud. Modern eBilling providers can accommodate each of these requirements.
  7. Law Firms and e-Billing: Electronic billing sometimes called electronic invoicing has become commonplace in the legal profession—first in the U.S. and now internationally. Law firms use an internationally recognized standard, Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standards (LEDES), to submit invoices directly from their billing software. LEDES is a simple file format with specifications that support hourly billing, flat fee billing, expenses, multiple currencies, and tax.
    Learn more about LEDES file format.

    Modern e-Billing tools require only minimal setup for law firms and make it easy for them to submit invoices without requiring any training. Often the only change for the law firm is to select a different invoice type in their billing software. Bills not in LEDES format (usually PDF invoices) from smaller firms can also processed by many systems. Law firms generally have good relationships with leading e-Billing companies that have intuitive interfaces and responsive customer support. e-Billing and spend management applications also make it easier for law firms to get invoice status updates without having to call the customer directly. Learn how you can evaluate an e-Billing solution for your law firms, ensuring ease of use and adoption.

See how a single intuitive platform makes it easy for vendors and your legal team to view invoices and submit budget proposals, giving you even more control over spend predictability:

In Conclusion

Modern legal operations management software not only provides e-Billing that will give you the ability to organize, centralize, and contextualize legal spend, it provides access to other key features like matter management, vendor management, advanced reporting and analytics, and so much more.

When you have the ability to get reports by lead attorney, law firm, matter, phase and task code, and even by individual timekeeper, your department has the objective data required to have far more productive conversions around budget and headcount. Get started today by scheduling a demo of SimpleLegal and see how our solution can help you overcome the common challenges faced by modern teams.