Monthly Archives: March 2017

Mar 22

The Value of Electronic Resource Management (ERM) Tools for Law Firms

By Michael Feit | Best Practices , Resources

There is great value in providing metrics to management on the utilization of library resources. To be a truly modern library, you need to be able to access and analyze real-time data about your online subscriptions and library services and how they are being utilized. With many Electronic Resource Management (ERM) tools on the market, if your firm doesn’t already have one in place, it may be the time to consider such an investment. While the upfront expense might seem significant, presenting the purchase to management in a business case and showing return on investment that the ERM will provide can go far to help management better understand the value of the purchase.

The data analysis and insight an ERM tool provides in evaluating electronic subscriptions for renewal or cancellation may in fact help to offset the actual costs of the ERM purchase. In terms of contract negotiations for electronic subscriptions, ERMs provide you with the raw data regarding actual usage of your online vendors.  This is powerful information and can help guide your decisions on whether to retain or cancel an expensive subscription or try to negotiate a lower fee if usage is low. You can pull reports and chart usage with ease based on a wide variety of criteria, including office location, practice group, individual user, and date ranges. The canned reports allow you the flexibility of charts and graphs to help explain to management library expenses, especially at budget time. ERMs can also fulfill many other functions.

Key benefits and capabilities of ERMs:

  • Help manage your contracts.
  • Review research queries within databases to identify users who may require additional training.
  • Utilize password management tools to make it easy for users to hop onto databases by having their passwords pre-populated and allow users instant access to firm-wide resources.

  • Identify the top users of online resources to inform them of database enhancements and additional training.

  • Analyze usage, allowing the library to market any under-utilized online resources.

  • Avoid out-of-contract costs by including warning screens and messaging in online databases to direct your users to alternate resources when they go to excluded content.

  • As many ERMs allow for client/matter number validation, track and bill clients for time spent performing research on databases.

  • Promote mobile research and access to online resources and passwords.

  • By tracking research and reference queries, many ERMs allow users to submit research requests online, which provides a centralized place to manage library research requests and allows for easy reporting of statistics.
  • Track metrics that make it easier to communicate the value of the library to firm management.

A few key players in this space are Priory Solutions (ResearchMonitor)OneLog, and Lucidea (LookUp Precision). As described above, the ERM product suite is robust. You do not have to buy everything at once. Assess your immediate needs and go from there. Purchase and implement; then see how the product allows you to calculate metrics. Show that data to management. In doing so, future ERM module purchases will be easier for management to understand because they are already seeing the power of the ERM tool. `

Mar 21

Measuring The Modern Library – What exactly do your metrics show?

By Michael Feit | Best Practices , Modern Law Library

Change is the only constant. There are changes we can forecast, and there are those to which we must react. Utilizing metrics and analytics will help support everyday operations, and changes at the firm that effect the Library. This data can come from an array of sources: Budget, Electronic Resource Management (ERM), User Feedback and even Associations Surveys.

Let’s start with the budget since this is almost the end of the year and most of our clients are finalizing renewals and expense projections. Consider just how meaningful is your budget? Does it truly reflect your operations? Are you capturing and monitoring revenue streams as well as expense? Are you billing for research services? If so, are you analyzing this data to identify which attorneys are passing on costs, and who is writing off client related expense.

For those with an ERM in place, whether monitoring reference requests or analyzing user data to assess ROI, ERMs are a valuable tool in the arsenal of the Modern Library. Robust reporting capabilities allow the Librarian to slice, dice and analyze data providing a better understanding of what is working in the Modern Library and what might need adjusting, like contracts for online resources seldom used or identification of training opportunities.

Since the Library provides many services, soliciting user feedback is valuable in figuring out what is working and what isn’t bringing value. The Modern Library is responsive to change when it needs to occur. A simple “how are we doing” at the end of a fulfilled request provides real time information and allows for agile change.

With the recent publication of the 2017 Biennial AALL Salary Survey & Organizational Characteristics, valuable metrics regarding salary, staffing patterns, Librarian attorney ratios are available allowing you to benchmark your Library. Are staffing and salaries where they should be for a firm your size?

The value of all these metrics lies in the data the Librarian can use to justify staffing, budgets and to assess the general ROI of the Library. For law firm Administrators, hard data turned into informative charts and graphs can tell the story of the modern Library in a visual way that is powerful beyond the numbers.

Mar 20

Tough Choices: Navigating Difficult Decisions in the Legal Information Market 

By Michael Feit | Contract Negotiations , Sole Provider , White Papers

Achieving optimal results in legal information management and costs requires tough decisions. The decisions may be small, as to which content or products to keep, or grand, like the consideration of eliminating or flipping a vendor.

When a library audit is completed, it may become apparent that retaining a resource that is rarely used is not worth the costs. However, on the flip side this could upset the 1 or 2 people who do utilize it. If deleted, an alternative option may be as simple as a different product, or it could be more time spent by accessing a local law library.

Another difficult choice is the decision of whether to eliminate Lexis or Westlaw (for firms who currently retain both) or to flip to the alternative (for firms who currently retain only Lexis or only Westlaw). In either instance, this is a complex change-management process. The downsides include a lengthy process from start to finish, the amount of time necessary within the process by key personnel to execute, and the general adversity by many towards change. The upsides: the process forces a firm to really review each and every resource–how they are used and the value they bring, substantial savings with available funds to purchase more complementary resources, and price correction. To correct the pricing path your firm has been on, the firm might need to eliminate a vendor for a short period of time or indefinitely. If your firm has been with a vendor for a while, flipping to a new vendor may present the best outcome.

Feit Consulting’s Legal Information Market Trends Series addresses the questions and concerns facing law firm administrators. Each report is a tool that offers guidance and insight with supporting data from interviews and/or surveys. Learn more about these tools here.

Mar 07

Lost Content No Big Deal

By Michael Feit | Sole Provider , Surveys

When Feit Consulting began studying the sole-provider trend, we expected that content replacement and workaround costs would be significant.
In Feit Consulting’s Sole Provider Experience Survey, 50 firms responded to the question, “How did you handle lost content?” Surprisingly, only 56% of firms needed to purchase print, and 22% said lost content was not an issue.
Mar 01

Modern Libraries: Paradigm Shift for Legal Information Professionals

By Michael Feit | Modern Law Library , White Papers

The concept of library modernization is more than downsizing space, cancelling print and right-sizing resources. It is a paradigm shift in the way law librarians and knowledge managers assess and deliver services within their organizations. As clients demand efficiency of services and lower costs, firms have been forced to take a closer look at how they themselves do business.

The role of library services within firms has shifted. No longer passively waiting for requests for assistance, librarians have taken on the role of innovator and change agent as they assist their organizations in assessing and creating information strategies to improve workflow and cut expense. Librarians have become interdepartmental collaborators, taking on new roles in Competitive Intelligence, Client Intake and Knowledge Management, to name a few. Staffing models run the gamut, from embedded researchers in practice groups to outsourced services. And as library responsibilities continue to evolve, so do the core competencies demanded of library staff.

In Feit Consulting’s future white paper, Beyond Virtualization: Transforming the Modern Library, our team of experts will discuss challenges and opportunities as well as the various approaches to the changing role librarians can play in the context of the Modern Library. Click here to learn more about this upcoming resource.