At the beginning of every year, Ackert Advisory releases a study on The State of CRM at Law Firms detailing a clear picture of how CRMs are being utilized at law firms. From the study, important trends and challenges emerge, giving law firm executives an idea of how they can improve their CRM usage and business development efforts.
With 2018 upon us, we’re already wondering how the state of CRM has changed. How has CRM adoption evolved? Where is progress being made? Are there any new top concerns?
As a relationship automation platform for law firms, we have a good idea of where CRM might be headed based off of our own observations from clients. To help you see how your law firm stacks up before Ackert’s 2018 survey, check out our predictions on the state of CRM below.
Overall Use Will Increase
In Ackert’s The State of CRM at Law Firms 2017 study, they reported that 75% of law firms had a CRM platform. This was a 3% improvement from 2016, establishing a trend of growing overall CRM use. The remaining 25% consisted mostly of small law firms indicating that larger firms were more likely to have CRMs.
With CRM systems becoming more economical for smaller firms, we believe smaller practices will begin to adopt their own CRM solutions. For example, with cloud-based systems, smaller firms are able to use a system that doesn’t take up significant tech resources, making CRM systems more approachable. As we look ahead to 2018, we think this will continue to grow the number of law firms with CRM platforms even higher, potentially reaching 80%.
The Majority of CRMs Will Be Cloud-Based
The previously mentioned 2017 study from Ackert found new CRM vendors coming online with cloud-based systems. They also cited other research that found cloud-based CRM usage grew 27% year-over-year and anticipate 50% of all CRMs will be cloud-based in upcoming years. But even though cloud-based CRMs were growing in quantity among law firms, few firms actually took advantage of them.
In 2018, we expect more law firms to adopt, move, or upgrade to a cloud-based CRM. Either through implementation of new systems or by upgrading an existing one, law firms will start to see the benefits of having a CRM in the cloud. For example, attorneys and business development teams will appreciate that cloud-based CRMs can be accessed and updated from anywhere and at anytime. Law firm executives will also appreciate the server space and IT resources cloud-based solutions free up.
Number of Active CRM Users Will Grow
While we anticipate more law firms will have CRM platforms in 2018, that doesn’t mean attorneys and business development teams will actually use them. Ackert’s 2017 study found that 93% of survey respondents estimated fewer than 31% of their attorneys actively used the CRM. They also reported poor technical skills as a primary reason for why lawyers don’t use the CRM. That being said, we think the amount of active CRM users at law firms will rise in 2018.
We believe lawyers will become more active CRM users because new CRM systems are focusing on providing intuitive, easy to use user experiences. Where complex CRM systems cause confusion and turn attorneys away, easy to use systems encourage users to come back time and time again. In addition, with more automated CRM solutions, attorneys and business development teams will be able to focus more on using their CRM for insights instead of time-consuming data entry.
Data Security Will Become a Rising Concern
We’re seeing it happen across several industries from retail to finance, but data security is a rising concern for many firms. Just take a look at the breaches that happened at Equifax or Target. Considering the fact that most client data lives in a CRM system, we expect law firms to become increasingly more concerned about the security of their CRM platforms. This means law firms will be more selective when choosing their CRM vendor and may even look to new CRM integrations to ensure their data security.
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