Consolidated Procurement for Decentralized Law Firms – Possible or not ?

Yes, it is possible.

Typically, many large international law firms are split into multiple local offices either by design or sometimes during a the merger and acquisition process.

Like any large company they have challenges managing a consolidated procurement activity that governs the entire process – Some procurement directors find it such a challenge they just assume it’s not possible – thus by default they may not benefit from some of the obvious upsides such as,

  • Monitoring savings from centrally negotiated contracts (which allows local offices to benefit from negotiated discounts via national relationships)
  • Maintaining a central repository for those contracts for anybody in the business to review and look up
  • Taking advantage both local and consolidated reporting using both the centrally reported currency and local currencies

 

procurement for law firms

 

In general, when we get approached by a large law firm, the problems appear to be common – they are either struggling with an older version of Elite or are trying to figure out how to integrate all these disparate systems into their Aderant solution and if not one of these two systems then something very similar.

The majority of views that we see is that it is not possible to consolidate information from all these different local offices into one umbrella system but in our opinion that is taking the narrow view – And in fact to be honest this same problem occurs in multiple different large businesses for example, the hospitality industry where one large hotel company may have multiple hotels around the globe but have challenges in reporting across their enterprise.

The good news is there are solutions for this problem and here at Eyvo we have experience with a number of deployment models for our procurement platform which meets and exceeds all of the typical barriers e.g. We typically hear the comment of “But we are not centralized we couldn’t possibly use a central procurement system !” – And perhaps that is the first knee-jerk reaction but unless you study the problem with a software company that is familiar with it, then you as a client,  will never know.

Solutions

At Eyvo we have a number of different deployment models, for example you could deploy have one system globally which then has its data siloed by attributes such as country, office, region, department etc.  and thus against each individual user profile, you can record which of those attributes that user is associated with and restrict that specific user to data that is linked to those attributes.   This retains data integrity and security (where you may not want a user in London being able to run reports against the New York office’s cost centre) but also maintains, improves, shares and leverages ‘procurement domain knowledge’ around the enterprise.

It does depend on the ‘class’ or ;role’ of the individual user of course, for example, a low level buyer or requester may only be interested in their local information, however a procurement director of the region would want to see the entire region and or a procurement director at the Home Office would want to see an insight an entire consolidated view of the procurement globally.  Such users that have a ‘global’ view we call ‘supervisor’ users.

Another way of working if not using the data silo methodology, is to have individual systems which are each individually physically separated from their sister sites around the world but with then one consolidated system acting as an umbrella system that pulls in the data from all these different locations into one area for reporting purposes.  The trick is making it both easy to use and as invisible as possible.

For example, if your Tokyo office is considering a large IT spend, wouldn’t it be useful for the buyer to run historical reports on the global IT spend around the business to see which IT vendor’s you have the most clout with and thus negotiate better discounts ?  And then go one step further and run a full RFP exercise across the supplier base of the entire firm rather than just using their local knowledge – which gives them a blinkered view of the opportunity in savings.

Next Steps To Centalizing Your Law Firms Procurement Practice

The possibilities are endless when correctly deployed.

Here at Eyvo we specialize in eProcurement solutions for both small companies that have a local or regional presence with perhaps one or two offices and larger firms that have offices all over the world, and for example, need their London office to report in Euros, Pounds and Dollars when the Home Office is in New York and needs to report globally in USD.

Yes it might sound complicated to the uninitiated but at the end of the day isn’t it just basic math ?   And all procurement systems should at least be able to add-up and do multiplication.

The trick is in how you deploy the solution across these disparate locations and how you make it easy for the user.

At Eyvo we have that solved – if you would like to know more please contact us.