Law Firm Data - Data Quality Underpins Everything

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The importance of accurate business data is well known, yet so many law firms still do not proactively manage and maintain the firmwide quality of their key business data – a recipe for disaster. Poor quality data can mean inaccuracies in the information available to your team, and inaccuracies can cost you time, money and even damage the reputation of the business.

Numerous research articles discuss the need to good data for use in business intelligence, business development and marketing, e-Discovery services and more, yet, when asked, management teams regularly express data quality concerns, citing this as an impediment to these initiatives, but many have not implemented firmwide policies and tools to resolve it. In fact, a lot of firms don’t know where their issues lie, or how they can even begin improving their data quality.

Why is this?

Firstly, many law firms understand where there data quality issues are most prevalent but do not know the scale of these issues, or importantly, the best approach to resolving these. Data quality issues can be caused by a wide variety of different complications and factors. It might be as simple as human input error, or you may have entirely incomplete or inconsistent data parameters and processes between different departments in your firm. Data quality issues can have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences across your firm, so the first step for any firm is to identify the current state of your data quality, and pinpoint exactly where it is that things are going wrong, update data entry procedures and processes accordingly and, where possible, implement data governance processes to monitor these processes.

Secondly, data quality is much better in certain systems than others. Most obviously the financial metrics in a law firm PMS have been put together with data quality in mind, and to reflect your needs to create an accurate dataset. Firms need to apply the same level of rigour to other key business such as case management or CRM services. The challenge here is educating users on the importance of this information alongside the financial metrics.

Finally, for some reason, data quality frequently becomes important for a short period when firms are moving from a legacy system to a new one or consolidating systems after a recent merger or acquisition but once complete becomes a lower priority. Improving your data quality and input systems is rarely a simple process that can be carried out overnight, and many legal firms find it hard to commit to a comprehensive data strategy. This is understandable, however, for organisations who have taken the time to set up robust systems and train their team in quality data practices, the results are clear.

So, what does this mean for your firm?

Through discussions with several law firms, it is fair to say that they understand the implications of poor data quality but find the impacts difficult to quantify and therefore ultimately commercialise. 

Conversely, further to our recent blog on data analytics, any data analytics initiative needs to be underpinned by a robust data governance strategy consisting of agreed data policies, procedures and taxonomies to deal with incorrect and inconsistent data terminologies, poor data entry practices, improved data automation and better referential data quality across multiple systems.

With data analytics now seen as important to any law firm strategic initiative it also now the time for law firms to evaluate their current data governance processes and approach to data quality. 

Get in touch with the team at IDS to see how iData services can help you re-evaluate and execute data strategies that work for your legal firm.

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