When best in breed becomes your biggest headache: the case for one solution software

Monday 28 September, 2020

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One Solution Software

Insight Legal Chairman, Brian Welsh gives us his thoughts on why he believes that a one solution system is the way forward.

As a key player in your legal firm, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase ‘best in breed’ during conversations about your software infrastructure.

On paper, it’s a solid approach. Go out and find the very ‘best in breed’ system for each purpose and use them all together to get the job done. In reality, it can lead to a headache that a boatload of Nurofen can’t shift.

It all begins and ends with the struggles of integration. Each software system you use is developed by a company with their own direction, goals and priorities. They didn’t build their magnificent system specifically to play nicely with others, they made something that would work brilliantly for the job they designed it to do. As someone whose clocked up 30+ years in this industry, I’ve had all sorts of fun and games trying to integrate software systems, and those are hours of my life I’m never getting back.

The challenges of integration don’t stop at merely getting the systems to talk to each other either. Once you are able to clear the set-up hurdle, your next issue is the evolution of those different pieces of software. I’ve worked on projects where various providers are working at vastly different paces. If your providers haven’t established a joint agreement about the pace that they will develop and ship software, things can go wrong. Say your accounts system software is a big player in their niche who is consistently pushing forward, but you are integrating their platform with another system who move at a snail’s pace. If the second system can’t keep up, your accounts platform will leave them for dust, and you’ll be spending a lot of time either trying to reintegrate them or setting up a new system that can do the job.

You’ve also got to consider mergers and acquisitions. If a provider is sold off to new owners or merges with a competitor, the direction of that company will inevitably change. Perhaps their focus will switch, or the new owners suddenly decide to pull the plug on the integration. Either way, you are going to have to navigate those changes, possibly multiple times, if you are using a variety of different providers.

Having done my fair share of ‘best in breed’ experiments, I believe that a one solution system is the way forward.

When a company develops a ‘one solution’ software package, they’ll spend significant time thinking through how each area of the platform will work together seamlessly. They’ll consider your project management needs and be able to provide comprehensive support for each facet if you run into issues.

By sourcing your software from one company, you can be reassured that everything is moving in the same direction. They’ll be consistent about when they ship software, so you won’t be left high and dry when your time recording provider moves quicker than your case management platform and the integration flounders.

You can still retain specialists for jobs like anti-money laundering, court bundling or searches, but those are only required a couple of times per case.

For your day-to-day, bread and butter tasks, a mainstream one solution system will ensure the workflow and project management run much more smoothly.

Let’s be real, you are unlikely to find a one solution provider who is going to be the best at every single aspect of their offer. But what use is having the very best in breed for every niche if you can’t integrate them successfully and guarantee the integration will work smoothly over a long period? In my view, from a user experience and productivity point of view, one solution works better. I’m excited to see how providers developing these platforms in the legal industry move forward and hearing client feedback about the user experience. It might not be good news for the purveyors of sore head medication, but it’ll be a blessed relief for the rest of us.