LONGFORDS RETURN TO LAWFUSION
“After six years as happy users of LAWFUSION, we moved to another software supplier only to return to LAWFUSION less than a year later because the new package didn’t live up to the expectations we were sold.”
Ash Alam, Partner, Longfords Solicitors
Oldham based law firm, Longfords Solicitors offers a range of services to businesses and individuals across the region. Their expertise includes commercial and residential property, property disputes, freezing orders, professional negligence, debt recovery and personal injury, to name just a few. With a 20-year presence in the area they have a solid reputation, and a growing team.
A CLASSIC CASE OF THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER…
This case study could perhaps be described as a classic case of ‘the grass often appears greener on the other side, but rarely is’. Both parties – Longfords and Select Legal Systems are very pleased to be reunited, and both have learned valuable lessons during the past two years (2018 and 2019) from this experience.
LOOK AND FEEL
Ash Alam, the Partner responsible for IT at Longfords said, “The new package I moved to was marketed as web-based browser software (although later I found out it wasn’t fully web-based) and they have a huge and well trained sales team. The software itself is very pleasing on the eye and the demonstration was slick and impressive.”
“LAWFUSION on the other hand has incredible functionality, and although it looks fine, its look and feel hasn’t been given top priority, although vast improvements have been made. At the end of the day, with hindsight I’d rather have the functionality. Once I made the move I quickly realised there was a lot my new package didn’t give me that LAWFUSION did.”
Mike Craven, co-founder and Director of Select Legal Systems Limited said, “LAWFUSION celebrated 25 years in business in 2018 so our software has well and truly stood the test of time, but over the years we’ve had to make many a judgement call – i.e. do we focus on a modern look and feel for the product, or do we focus on functionality? Although we accept both are important for different reasons, having surveyed our users regularly a resounding preference for functionality has always come across. Rightly or wrongly, we have concentrated on functionality first and foremost, whilst addressing the look and feel of the product steadily module by module as our second priority.
“Many of our modules are on a par with modern software standards in terms of look and feel, and in 2019 we began a full scale overhaul of the accounts side of the system, developing a new menu system, posting screen and dashboards.”
THE DATA CONVERSION
Ash Alam, Partner at Longfords continued, “I found the data conversion skills of my new supplier to be greatly lacking compared to the LAWFUSION guys. Migrating all your data across from one system to another is a big step and very daunting for a law firm. It has to go smoothly as your business of course depends heavily on its data. When I originally moved to LAWFUSION the team at Select took all the pain away and the data transfer went very smoothly indeed. You could say I was spoiled, because this was not the case with my new supplier when we moved away from LAWFUSION. All my LAWFUSION data was made available to my new supplier for the data migration, but they did an absolutely awful job with the transfer. They didn’t do any email extraction, and they took only balances and clients from accounts. It was totally unacceptable despite them having access to it all.
“As a result, I decided not to cancel LAWFUSION as I felt I had to keep it running. I didn’t have the confidence in my new system and I became increasingly worried as time went on that I was getting very behind with my accounts. I was also faced with the time-consuming task of moving all our emails and scanned correspondence over to the new case management system, despite Select Legal providing all of this electronically. My new supplier simply wasn’t up to the job, and didn’t really seem to care that much.”
Mike Craven, Director of Select Legal added, “We have vast experience converting data over from most of the legal practice management systems out there. Of course the success of the data conversion task depends entirely on the availability and access provided to you by your previous supplier, and we’ve heard a lot of horror stories about firms trapped with their software supplier because they cannot get their data. However, we will bend over backwards to help you retrieve your data and efficiently migrate it over to LAWFUSION. The team has successfully tackled even the trickiest of systems currently in use by law firms, and Select has many happy clients who would be willing to speak to you about their data conversion experience with us.”
Ash Alam also said, “Once I signed up with my new supplier I found I had different people to deal with. They farm out their training to third-party contractors and the training we received for the new system was terrible, so much so that I decided to cancel it.”
“Compared with LAWFUSION training, the training we received for our new system was at the opposite end of the quality scale. The LAWFUSION training I have received since originally going live with LAWFUSION in 2012 has all been excellent. It is always very methodical and structured. The people who trained me on LAWFUSION are all employees of Select Legal and they know the system inside and out. Some of them were involved with the development of the software in the earlier days, so they have a lot of knowledge. Disappointingly, this was not the case with my new supplier.”
Mike Craven, Select’s Director said, “Some of our competitors mix several different law firms together in their training sessions. However, we find that tailored training to meet the firm’s needs works far better for our clients, and provides their users with many benefits in terms of early understanding and long-term knowledge retention.”
Ash Alam from Longfords told us, “What I didn’t appreciate at demonstration stage was that my new system wasn’t truly integrated. So once I’d made the decision to move from LAWFUSION, the costs with my new supplier started to mount. They expected me to pay for the new case management system, as well as a separate Xero subscription for accounts, and on top separate Microsoft Office subscriptions.
“Because all LAWFUSION modules were actually written as part of one fully integrated software system, and it has fabulous integration with the Microsoft Outlook and Exchange products, the pricing for my LAWFUSION set up is all inclusive, including my Microsoft licences.”
“But it’s not just the costs that caused me a problem with the lack of integration from my new supplier. Although they offered me a bridge between the new case management and Xero Accounts, the Xero support was virtually non-existent and so I never got round to having it configured. It just never happened.”
“Also although I could log onto my new system wherever I happened to be via a web browser, I couldn’t work on accounts as I had limited functionality due to the lack of integration.”
Select’s Director, Mike Craven added, “Some vendors get carried away claiming their ‘bolted-together’ software packages are seamlessly integrated. If you come across this it is wise to dig a little deeper and ask for more detail beyond the marketing spiel. Some ‘bolt-on’ applications are simply ‘interfaced’ rather than ‘integrated’ and there is a stark difference. Integrated tools utilise a common database in real-time, with minimum file duplication. ‘Interfaced’ software modules, which were generally never expected to work together in the first place, often simply extract and transfer data between programs that are completely separate and sometimes are even on different technology platforms making them difficult to design, test and support.
“All LAWFUSION modules are fully integrated in the truest sense of the word and we have worked hard to integrate a number of key third party packages too such as Microsoft Office and Exchange of course, but also Laserforms, Oyez Forms and many others for different areas of law.”
Ash Alam told us about the support Longford’s received from his new supplier, “Due to the fact that my new supplier had sold me a number of disparate pieces of software that weren’t integrated, meant support wasn’t integrated either. Although for some aspects of the system I had access to a community forum which was based on webchat which worked quite well. For other aspects of the system the support was less than ideal. I could only email them, I couldn’t speak to them as I don’t think their support staff were UK-based, and they weren’t as responsive as I’d expected.
“Having been highly satisfied with LAWFUSION support for six years, this new scenario simply wasn’t acceptable. We missed the personal touch.”
THE SOFTWARE ITSELF
Ash Alam compared the two software systems by saying, “There is absolutely no doubt that the software from my new supplier has a great look and feel, and to be fair it had aspects of good functionality too. However, it lacks the substance in terms of the overall functionality that LAWFUSION has to offer.
“Although I was led to believe my new software was pure web browser software I soon learned I had to install desktop software to make it work effectively. Also many of the features we had grown to rely upon within LAWFUSION either did not exist in the new product, or took longer to execute. It also goes without saying that the lack of integration available with my new system of course was far from ideal, making it difficult to use.
“The case management side of my new system appeared to be very much like LAWFUSION, it has workflows, precedents and Laserforms and they branded up my outgoing correspondence with Longford’s logo making it tamper-free, so admittedly it all looked great. But in reality once I’d made the move, none of these niceties stacked up against the overall integrated functionality and user-friendliness of LAWFUSION case management, or any of the LAWFUSION modules to be precise.”
“My new supplier offered me a mobile app for Longfords users who need to stay connected to the system and progress cases on the system whilst out and about. However, I learned there was a fundamental flaw with it on the email side of things. I would have been able to email a client from the app whilst away from the office, and my outgoing email would be saved automatically to the relevant case. However, if that client replied to my email, their reply would need to be added to the case manually, which for a busy fee earner is not ideal.
“The LAWFUSION app has been available for a while and although I have not implemented it yet, I am sure, from what I have seen, it will deliver all my needs and that I will be invited to provide input to shape the app for the future.”
THE HARD SELL
The final word from Ash Alam on why he left, and why he came back to LAWFUSION, “The best thing about my new supplier was their sales process. It was very slick, professional and persistent. I received many calls from them, regularly over a two-year period. I always told them no, why would I move when I was very happy with LAWFUSION. They chased me relentlessly and caught me on a day when I had encountered a minor misunderstanding about a small admin issue with Select. I agreed to a demonstration, out of curiosity more than anything, not really planning to move away from LAWFUSION. However, the salesman made me an offer that seemed too good to be true. It turns out it was, and the rest is history!
“Not quite a year into my new system, there I was with the ridiculous situation of running, and paying for, two systems side-by-side, as I still didn’t have the confidence to switch off LAWFUSION. So I spoke with Mike Craven, one of the Directors at Select and he was only too willing to help. I moved back to LAWFUSION in August 2018.
“Since then communication between team LAWFUSION and Longfords is vastly improved. A number of new features I wanted to see as part of LAWFUSION have been added, based on my feedback. I have joined the LAWFUSION Accounts Focus Group this year (2019) and am taking part in the new ‘wish-list’ voting system.”
Mike Craven, Director of Select Legal said, “We were delighted to welcome Ash Alam and all his colleagues at Longfords back to LAWFUSION. We’ve all learnt a lot, on both sides of the fence, from this experience. Not only have we included a number of Ash’s wish-list ideas into our software development enhancement priorities, but we have also amended our Account Management processes to ensure we regularly remind our clients of our ‘open-door’ policy for them. If something isn’t right, we want to know about it. We know that despite best efforts no supplier gets everything right all the time, but we do promise that we always try to listen to, and meet, our clients’ needs as far as humanly possible.”