Through a series of blog posts, we will explore how Power BI can be creatively used within law firms to create insights from data and inform business decisions. Let’s dance with data.
Project management (and the tools that help with project management) are increasingly common in law firms. It’s really the only way to make fixed fee, value pricing and subscription models work.
While practice management systems offer workflow tools, your team may prefer the likes of Trello, Monday, Clickup, Asana etc. These cloud-based tools are flexible, easy and fun to use. They offer seamless collaboration and a host of integration options. All for a very compelling price point.
But you are left with an issue. You have your data living in countless places and no easy way to manage it.
When I first started in legal as a programmer some 20(!) years ago, the best practice was to keep all your data in one place. That place was generally your practice management system and it was considered the singular source of truth.
Since that time, we have seen niche, cloud-based applications multiply. You can now choose the best tool for the job. Rather than relying on one tool to do all the jobs. Which brings with it challenges around integration, double data entry and a singular view of all data. Power BI can give you a singular view of all data, while allowing people to choose the tools that suit them best.
How Power BI can work with Project Management tools
As Power BI connects to multiple data sources and connects them together, it is an ideal tool to combine project management with financials. Those financials may live in your accounting software or your PMS. Power BI can connect to either.
Let’s look at how this works practically
I’m going to use Trello as an example. I personally use Trello for my own workflow, but the principles would apply to other cloud-based project management tools. I find the simple Kanban boards very effective.
Trello, and tools like it, allow unstructured data. Meaning, you can type exactly what you want without limitations on data type, length etc. This makes it easy to use and flexible. However, we need to be able to connect our Trello data with our PMS data. To do this, we need to add some structure into Trello.
In the example below, I have a naming convention in the list title that relates it to a matter. You can use tools to automate this process when opening a matter and apply the naming convention automatically. Alternatively, you could bring the Trello board or card identifier information into your PMS into a custom field through the automation process. There are a variety of ways to do create that automation, but they fall outside the scope of this post. The main thing to think about here, is to ensure you create a way to link the project management tool to your PMS or accounting system.
Trello can be exported in a format called JSON, which is readable by Power BI. I can then use some code to extract the matter number. This will allow me to connect to my practice management information.
The below example combines some matter and invoice information with the status of the Trello cards. I have only one Trello card sample, but if you had more then you can start to aggregate that data. Then you could use this to manage workflow and predict cashflow.
For the technically minded, there is a fabulous blog post on how to connect Power BI to Trello by FourMoo. I think this is very useful as a proof of concept.
Project management and the tools that support it are becoming increasingly important to law firms. With so many great cloud-based tools available, it’s good to know that there is a way to connect them with your financial and practice management data. This provides your team with a powerful dashboard to manage their matters.
If you are looking for a solution that pairs your accounting or PMS data with your project management application, please get in touch with me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Join me as I explore more about how Power BI can super-charge your reporting and give you valuable business insights
About the Author
Robyna May is part of our Power BI team, her role sees her taking raw data and developing it into clear visual representations that can be used to inform strategic decisions.
Robyna has over twenty years’ experience in the Australian legal sector, both working within firms and supporting firms. She has worked as a project manager, IT manager, knowledge director, legal firm practice manager, technical consultant and software developer. This broad range of experience allows her to see both the technical and practical sides of any project. In each of these roles, she has had a keen interest in pulling data from various sources and presenting it in such a way that allows decision makers to have a clear, birds eye view of their practice.
With degrees in both IT and Law, she has a deep understanding of how law firms work and how technology can support them. She regularly writes and presents on topics associated with the intersection of IT and law.
- Posted by Verlata Administrator
- On October 20, 2020
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