Over the years, we are frequently asked by prospects and customers about “best practices” followed by companies as they relate to a legal spend management program. General counsels face a wide range of business objectives such as cost control, driving efficiencies, better decision making, and process improvement. Implementing a legal bill review program can have compelling benefits in each of these areas. Below are some of the common issues we see among companies and how a legal spend management program can solve their problems.
The legal department is missing savings opportunities found in their invoices.
With the assistance of a legal spend management provider, the company should first create a set of billing guidelines or review their existing guidelines. In these instances, Stuart Maue will make recommendations on improving guidelines or assisting the company with creating a set of billing guidelines. Additionally, as the invoices are reviewed by a Stuart Maue attorney over a period of time, the attorney will gain an understanding of where firms have problems in their billing. Using this information, we can continue to make suggestions that will improve their billing guidelines.
Moreover, general counsels are concerned about the time it takes their internal staff to review invoices. If inside counsel does not have the time to review invoices, companies may be leaving a substantial amount of money on the table. If internal staff is responsible for the review of invoices, there may also be a lack of standardization in the internal invoice review process. By using a legal spend management provider that includes attorney review, the general counsel is ensured an efficient review of invoices as well as a standardized methodology for review.
Budgets are not being received in a timely manner or not received at all.
When general counsels struggle with receiving budgets from law firms, a budget application for both the law firms and the company can be an easy solution. If requested by the client, Stuart Maue can use controls on our budget application to impose budget restrictions. For example, if a firm tries to upload an invoice for review before uploading a budget, the invoice is rejected and a message is sent to the firm stating that a budget is required. Additionally, by adding the necessity of an approval on the budget before invoices are uploaded for payment, a company can be assured that they will receive a budget from each firm.
There are too many over budget matters.
Many companies struggle to keep matters at or under budget. For some clients, Stuart Maue uses notifications for both the law firm and inside counsel when a law firm goes over budget. The notification requests that the law firm create a new budget and Stuart Maue will block a firm from billing until a new budget is approved. This assists companies with keeping matters on budget and over budget matters to a minimum. With budgets assigned to each matter, Stuart Maue can also track budget-to-actual performance by the firms. Tracking budget-to-actual numbers assists general counsels in keeping over budget matters under control.
Next month we will continue to review other “best practices” followed by general counsels as they relate to legal spend management programs.