In part 1 of our legal case management software checklist we focused on the essential functionality that your software solution should provide. In part 2, we first pay attention to some optional modules and functionality that can be valuable for your firm. We will conclude with some general considerations with regard to the service providers and the services they provide.
Most service provides offer a range of additional modules, which often focus on specialized tasks, and therefore are optional. The reporting capabilities of a package are sometimes included and other times optional. They usually give a good insight in the maturity of the product. Further modules may focus on firm management, productivity, or logistics. Larger law firms will also be interested in knowledge management and data mining.
If your firm specializes in certain fields of activity, like, e.g. debt collection and recovery, mergers and acquisitions, liquidations, etc., special modules may be available that are specifically designed for those purposes. Sometimes other service providers offer such extended functionality, and you may have to work with more than one service provider.
If you are planning to use software solutions by other service providers, you must investigate whether these can be integrated in, or at least communicate with, your chosen software solution. We already gave the examples of third-party accounting software and optional specialized modules, but it also applies to more common scenarios. Most firms use Microsoft’s Office 365. And many people rely on either Gmail and Google Calendar, or on Outlook and/or Exchange for their email and calendar. If this applies to you, you will want a solution that offers a seamless integration with these applications as well.
These days, many companies use public cloud services (DropBox, Onedrive, Google Drive, etc.) for a number of reasons: to share documents or collaborate on them, to make backups of their data, etc. Does your software solution provide an integration with these services?
Security and Data are also important considerations. Does the software provide an easy user and permissions management solution with different levels of access? Are the data encrypted? Are email communications encrypted? Can the data be easily imported and exported? If you are looking at a cloud solution where the service provider hosts your data, what rights do you and the service provider have to the data? Can the service provider keep your data if you default on your payments, e.g.?
Thus far, we have given an overview of functionality requirements for your checklist. There are other important considerations, too. Apart from the functionality, you have to look at the User Experience (UX), e.g.: How intuitive and easy to use is the software? How are support and training organized? Are there manuals, tutorials, webinars or podcasts? When can the support desk be contacted and in what ways (phone, email, live chat, remote access, …)? The price, too, is of course an important consideration. Are there any hidden costs or costs that will increase over time? What about upgrades: what is the frequency, what are the conditions and what is the cost? Does the provider offer you a free trial period, and if so, for how long?
Last but not least, it is always a good practice to investigate to investigate the service providing company itself. What experience does it have in the field? How is its viability as a service provider?