Keeping critical technology systems online and up-to-date is a huge burden for any law firm. An ongoing necessity, it’s like eating spinach and working out: not necessarily pleasant, but good for overall health. It’s a major pain point and — like diet and exercise — it’s an area firms constantly wrestle with.
Application managed services allow firms to offload the work of updating and maintaining their applications and integrations into expert hands. This is an especially smart move for firms running Elite 3E.
“But what if my firm has its own IT team?”
An application managed services agreement is still an extremely smart move for firms with established IT departments. Here’s why.
What Makes Elite 3E Systems Special
Elite 3E is a Thomson Reuters financial management system. It can be used by firms of all sizes but caters primarily to large firms. With a wide array of capabilities and functionality, it addresses multiple locations, varying currencies, different languages, and large user loads. It’s a workhorse, which is why over 300 firms rely on it worldwide! However, like many software products, Elite 3E evolved into what it is today over years of iterations and amalgamations. The result is a very complex system that requires a niche set of skills to maintain properly.
Most law firm managers don’t know or care about Elite 3E’s technical niche-ness. They’re focused on its ability to meet their firm’s financial and practice management needs. Therefore, they often have the false belief that their in-house teams can handle Elite 3E as easily as they might handle other business applications.
The Elite 3E Reality
As 3E experts, we’re frequently called in to help when a firm has a crisis. We usually see one or two of the following scenarios at play when we arrive:
Scenario #1: Ignorance is Bliss
The in-house IT team is extremely capable but doesn’t have any background or expertise with the Elite 3E system. This creates a false sense of security. Everyone believes the system is being adequately and properly maintained, but it isn’t.
Scenario #2: The One that Got Away
The internal team includes people with Elite 3E experience. This is a boon until these employees move on, taking that information with them. The firm is left floundering and facing huge setbacks in terms of time, cost, and knowledge base when issues arise, as they inevitably do.
Scenario #3: The Ticking Time Bomb
The internal team is doing their best, but they’re busy supporting attorneys and staff. Elite 3E is a big system. It requires a major time commitment to properly perform the needed maintenance. It’s easy for critical operations to get shuttled to the bottom of the to-do list, leaving the system vulnerable to breaches, slow performance, and shutdowns.
Reacting to Crisis
All three of these scenarios put firms in a reactive position. They invariably create a crisis and a need for an immediate solution. This is where it’s easy for firms to compound the problem instead of solving it. Their focus is on the short-term fix instead of the long-term health of their 3E system, thereby creating a situation akin to yo-yo dieting: the immediate crisis is addressed, but the system’s overall soundness is still in jeopardy.
We see firms reach for two temporary fixes:
Temporary fix #1: Recruit and/or train new IT employees.
It makes sense to seek out and/or replace employees savvy in 3E. However, recruiting, onboarding, and training all take time and incur large costs. In the meantime, firms run the risk of the system crashing, performing poorly, and/or continuing to degrade. Last-minute hiring or training can also create a huge lift for the employees once they’re up to speed; they have to play catch-up.
Furthermore, firms using this strategy to patch internal skills gaps are left with longer-term issues to address. They have to invest time and money to ensure that their Elite 3E knowledge base is up-to-date, that they know any ancillary add-ons, that they can support and maintain all customizations, etcetera. And again, there’s the risk of losing any investment if the new or upskilled employees leave. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Temporary fix #2: Buy vendor hours in bulk.
The natural solution to a tech problem is to hire experts, right? On the surface, yes. Though often effective, this solution is extremely costly and time-consuming. It often leaves the firm with no documentation of what’s been done, as that knowledge stays with the vendor. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee the work was done thoroughly or correctly. And how is accountability determined? How many times have you heard “it’s your customizations/data that are the problem”? In the short term, these vendors manage to make your system’s symptoms go away, but there’s no guarantee that underlying issues are really fixed.
These temporary solutions work in the short term about as well as a six-month gym membership. They allow a firm to function, but they don’t establish a foundation for long-term system health and success.
Stop the Insanity!
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” This is essentially what we see Elite 3E firms in crisis doing. They reach for seemingly easy fixes to address complex issues and then wonder why their system’s ROI is in the dumps. They don’t stop to consider a more enduring solution to the cycle.
Unlike internal upskilling or ad hoc projects with external vendors, application managed services offer Elite 3E firms a proactive alternative to system maintenance. These holistic service agreements allow firms — big or small — to finally step off the vendor merry-go-round and into the stress-free stability of a sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective solution for keeping their financial management system up to snuff.
In short: we’re proponents of application managed services because they keep law firms out of crises. Period.
Here’s a rundown of some of the benefits offered by application managed services:
A tried, tested, and systematic maintenance approach.
You get a detailed discovery of your current Elite 3E environment, including its customizations and integration points. This “snapshot” of your system affords you an in-depth understanding of your current support processes.
Consistent, proactive monitoring.
Having ongoing information regarding the health of your system makes it possible to make smart decisions about upgrades, add-ons, performance, customizations, and more. Monthly reports and check-ins also illuminate pain points, performance issues, customization concerns, and other issues before they hit the crisis point.
Continuous expert support.
Entering an application managed services contract ensures access to a team of experienced Elite 3E technicians — that you’re not responsible for training! It provides a continuity of information; your system and its support processes are documented and shareable. You get DBA services, instance management, and true customization support. And, bonus! These experts can liaise with other IT vendors so that you don’t have to.
Onsite upgrade support.
Upgrades have to happen, especially for firms using older versions of Elite 3E.* However, they need to be done correctly in order for firms to reap the benefits. An application managed services agreement gives you access to experts who can manage the upgrade process (including integral QA testing), provide post-upgrade support, and deploy incremental changes going forward.
The long and short of it is that application managed services contracts give Elite 3E firms a manageable, reliable, and cost-effective solution for optimizing their Elite 3E systems without overwhelming their in-house teams. They also help firms make the most of Elite 3E’s extendable platform by delivering incremental, continuous improvements via configurations, customizations, enhancements, tuning, and more, ensuring the system stays relevant as the firm grows in addition to extending its ROI.
*The Silverlight platform is being end-of-lifed, which means the end of support for this version.
Why Choose Helm360: The Shameless Plug
We promote application managed services because we know how beneficial they are to big firms. As a Thomson Reuters Product Partner and Certified Elite 3E Implementation Partner, we have over 20 years of experience working with the Elite 3E system. We use this knowledge and expertise to help 3E firms turn the corner from reactive to proactive on a regular basis. It’s a transformative process!
So, why choose us? Here’s what we bring to the table:
- A scalable, hybrid onshore/offshore, cost-effective delivery model with 24/7 support.
- A global pool of top-notch talent who are trained on the latest Elite 3E information and developments.
- Application managed services contracts that can be tailored specifically to your firm. You only pay for what you need.
- A customer-centric approach. We become part of your team.
A less than healthy Elite 3E system can bring a firm to a standstill. Shifting your outlook from reactive to proactive can prevent expenditures, productivity loss, and endless anxiety. Just like an effective diet and exercise regimen is specific to each individual, so too are application managed services to each firm; each agreement is tailored to fit. A robust, up-to-date 3E system can move your firm towards its goals. Give yours the care it needs with Helm360’s application managed services.