In particular, I wanted to highlight two case studies (J&J and Merck) discussing how in-house counsel can make use of software for processing invoices received from outside counsel. Both of these come from the software vendor DataCert based in Houston, Texas and London, England.
The product highlighted is called Advanced Invoice Management System (AIMS) and was implemented by J&J and Merck in the past four years.
DataCert's web site describes the companies mission and products in the following way:
"Corporate counsel rely on DataCert's products and services to manage legal activities and provide transparency into outside legal spend. Originally, the company was established to move and standardize data such as electronic invoices over the Internet. Today, DataCert is a total solutions provider of legal spend and matter management solutions."
The web site also describes the key business problem to be solved in the following manner:
"In addition to contending with a large number of law firms, the accompanying invoices for work rendered have to be routed, scrutinized, adjusted, paid and reconciled with the corporation's billing guidelines. This work puts additional strain on already short-staffed legal departments. Moreover, the work of managing paper invoices provides no accumulated benefit; next month's invoices will arrive with the same issues and require the same amount of work by the same people. Every minute spent handling invoices is a minute spent away from managing the business or practicing law in an environment fraught with legal risk and strained margins."
In both cases, the key features of AIMS are:
While I normally focus on data exchange standards as we use them in the R&D space, it is important to remember that such standards are tremendously important in all areas of the business. This includes the legal environment and in this case the legal billing environment where UTBMS codes and LEDES are used. For new initiates, these stand for Uniform Task Based Management System and Legal Electronic Data Exchange System. Essentially, these standards allow standard codes to be used for the billing of legal work and are essential to any software system focused on time management and billing.
An equally important component when implementing such a billing system is the ability to integrate it with mainstream corporate systems. Jeff Hodge of DataCert has stated that "System integration, arguably the most important e-billing enabler, is the notion of making two or more systems work together. The more seamless the integration, the more useful it is to the users. In e-billing, integration is most common with matter management systems, accounts payable systems, and bill auditing or analytic tools.
Systems integration, properly designed and implemented brings life to an electronic billing system. It creates new opportunities for system architects to continually reinvent and deliver increasing value. The long-term viability of legal systems will increasingly depend upon their ability to seamlessly communicate with main-line corporate systems."
As in most other software categories, there are competing vendors in the legal time and billing management space. These include TyMetrix (Used by Pfizer), Allegient and Mitratech.