At ILTA ’08 in Grapevine, Texas, David Gregson, the chief information officer for Kilpatrick Stockton, spoke with Rich Rifkin from Contact Networks about the success of their ContactNet initiative, and the bright future he sees for Enterprise Relationship Management at professional services firms.
Kilpatrick Stockton is a full-service, international law firm with nine offices across the eastern United States and in Europe.
Rich Rifkin, Contact Networks: What prompted Kilpatrick to investigate Enterprise Relationship Management systems?
David Gregson, Kilpatrick Stockton: Well, the firm has gone through a strategic change in business focus. It’s really focusing on new team structures, enhanced client service, and professional development goals around cross-selling. So, that prompted us to investigate ERM systems to give a tool to the attorneys and their team members to find out who knows who and what relationships actually exist to companies outside the firm.
Rifkin: What was it about ContactNet that ended up making your decision so easy?
Gregson: Well, it was easy because ContactNet was the only system that kept our data behind the firewall. And so, I really wanted to make sure that our data was secure, so that was easy. I also knew of ContactNet before; it’s a best-of-breed tool. I knew it was an easy system to implement, didn’t take a lot of effort from my IT staff, and more importantly, didn’t require any effort from the attorneys to actually keep the system updated. So that was very easy.
Rifkin: Who has access to the system? Is it a firm-wide tool, or is it just business development and marketing?
Gregson: Everybody has access to it. Business development and marketing do use it, but really it’s used by all of the attorneys. Attorneys actually leverage the information on the system to find out who knows who, and where the relationships exist.
Rifkin: How do they access ContactNet – is it out of the box with the browser, or is it integrated with your other systems?
Gregson: It’s fully integrated with our portal system, our client pages, as well as right on the home page of the firm’s Intranet.
Rifkin: What’s been the reaction and the response to ContactNet since it’s been introduced?
Gregson: It’s been super positive. A lot of the attorneys are using it, and like I said, bus dev is using it a lot, and we’ve integrated it into our client tracking systems. So it’s been really widely used.
Rifkin: You have had experience with ERM and CRM systems. What are your views on how these two systems fit together? Are they complimentary?
Gregson: CRM systems are used to track professional development – meaning, client development activities. We use it to manage our team’s priorities effectively. Whereas ERM systems really help us know where relationships exist at the firm, and know who knows who.
Rifkin: What do you envision for the future? What are your long term expectations for ERM?
Gregson: We’re going to tightly integrate as much as possible with ERM and CRM, so that there will likely be a way for us to leverage the information from both systems as they are linked together. But, I expect ERM systems will continue to develop and will layer on different reporting and analysis and new pieces of information.