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Bromfield quits IRIS

We're getting unconfirmed reports that Tony Bromfield has just quit as MD of IRIS Legal, just over 6 months after taking over the hot seat. Bromfield replaced Arlene Adams who managed 18 months before abandoning ship.

37 replies on “Bromfield quits IRIS”

Charles …
better get some more space on the server for the 'Anonymous' comments to follow on this thread …

Martin Leuw, the chief exec of the IRIS Group, has just phoned to confirm this is true – apparently we got the note up on the blog before IRIS had managed to inform all their staff. A replacement is being recruited but in the short-term Leuw will be taking over the role. We're hoping to get a full statement shortly.

Martin Leuw – are you reading this?
How many more stupid mistakes are you going to make?

I wonder if Greg Adams has a view on this?
Bet he is pleased he took the job.

How could Martin Lewd read this the blog is banned – isn't it!!

Good idea – give him even more targets to fail. Do you think anyone INSIDE Iris respects Chris?

There's something you need to read into his background. He sells packaged solutions. ILE is a complex solution Tony, Chris or anyone else at Iris couldn't get their heads around. Bringing Greg in means that they have given up completely on ILE and are focusing on a simple, off-the-shelf ILB package. No workflows, no data conversion just accounts and documents. Only a fool will believe any more of their hype. Look at the acquisitions of Opsis, AlphaLaw and others – it all points to the same, small end market.
They have to keep making noises about their wonder products (“coming soon on the new revised product roadmap”) to stop the exodus of customers. Iris has a HUGE debt that needs to be serviced, and if they loose any customers paying annual maintenance, they are in deep trouble and I don't expect their masters will allow good money to go after bad on more development costs.
Look at the recent trend of departures at high level. This is the sign of a company in full panic mode, not one building for the future.
I for one wouldn't be risking my company's future on a company that I bet will be up for sale within the year.

It was interesting to see that other Iris employees hated Tony Bromfield. Nice to see to he has also been exposed has ineffectual and incompetent! How anyone could appoint this chap to a senior role has always been a mystery to everyone in Iris.
Next step: Iris to pull out of the Legal Services market altogether??? Martin Leuw is certainly getting desperate…

The reality is that this is a terrible mess and everyone knows it – talk to most firms, suppliers and consultants and they'll all say the same. 3 CEO's in 3 Years says it all and morale is at rock bottom.
The simple thing is that CSG made a fast buck for it's shareholders in a time when you could load a company with massive debt, hide the long-term fundamentals and sell on for a profit. That was in the halcyon days of 2006/07, wind forward to IRIS Legal 2009 and the whole thing looks a bit silly.
The key thing that many believe now is that IRIS Legal has passed the point of no return and is simply in a terminal spin. Roll up the next corporate clone to do their stint but on current form we've had someone who managed 2 years, then 18 months and now 6 so I guess they might not make it beyond 3.
You just have to look back over this blog to see that time and time again everyone was saying the same thing but IRIS just carried on regardless……..the rest is history.

They have demonstrated absolute brilliance in always doing the daft thing and choosing the wrong people. They really haven't a clue.

No forget about Chris Rose – Bring Back Steve Chivers – he's the man for the job

I wonder how all this (Arlene, Bromfield, the decline of ILE etc) affects the other constituent companies within IRIS Legal.
Perhaps it's time for the likes of Laserform et al to drum support and cash for some kind of management buyout before their reasonably unsullied names are dragged in to the dirt and their products irreparably damaged?

Martin. if you do read this blog, try bringing back Jim Chase if you can. He had respect amongest the clients and staff, a good handle on how the business ran, and a good grasp of the required techy stuff.
Been falling apart ever since left.

A Laserform buy-out doesn't work for 3 reasons:
1. like all Iris acquisitions, the product has suffered from years of under-investment and too much needs to be spent to get it up to scratch.
2. what management? These are the same people who are managing ILE
3. Iris won't allow it. The plan has always been to build up a large customer base through acquisition, move all the customers to one product and can the others, close down most of the offices (and lose the staff) then sell the legal division as a going concern to LexisNexis by 2012.

The main reasons Iris Legal is failing spectacularly are:
1. Poor senior Management-the Iris Legal Senior Management Team is 100% devoid of talent, no-one in Iris respects them but they are 100% 'Yes Men/Women'.
2. The ILE Product: Constantly changing roadmap, clients misled and lack of understanding of client needs. Oh, and there are huge functionality gaps.
3. The problems of acquisition companies were not solved and no 'Shared' culture fostered between ex-Aim, Videss staff etc.
4. Following on from 3, people are usually the most important resource – not at Iris…you are just a commodity to be used and abused, hence the rock-bottom morale.
Oh, and did everyone know that Iris have just announced a number of redundancies within their ILE team? They are about to pull out of the enterprise market…that is a 'no-brainer'.

Could someone give me some understanding as to what is happening with ILE? Is ILE the Company's Core product or not? Is V10 being sold and if so to whom? Does ILE work and if not what is it that does not work and why?
I ask as an exasperated user of ILE V10 and all its huge faults. I understand we are being reassured that all is well and will be sorted in the next service release but nothing improves. We have had no reliable management reports for 2 years!
Please someone with some inside knowledge tell me whats going on before it is too late.

Unbelievable ! IRIS have managed to take over highly profitable, well respected companies, and within the space of two years have turned them and their products into a poorly implemented embarassing mess, that is hemorrhaging money – These guys should be MPs !

Perhaps the likes of Boynes, Crouch and Cass could scrape some pennies together if they're still there?
Surely the quality of the Laserform forms product, however good or poor you rate it, can't have changed too much is Cass is still working on it?

If you were to look at how IRIS got in to this mess you should recall that Jim was instrumental in having AIM acquired by Vin Murria and CSG. Wonder if Martin is still grateful for his intro to Vin looking back on it now ? Still what goes around would come around.

Actually Jim Chase was one of the managers of AIM, he wasn't one of the owners and so had no involvement in the acquisition by CSG – or any of the subsequent deals. – Charles Christian

The bottom line is that the big wigs at IRIS had no understanding of the legal software market or the sales cycle in legal IT ( 3 months to 3 years – if you're lucky). They will, no doubt, find out the hard way!
Sadly the losers will be the customers and the frontline staff in the businesses prostituted by their former owners.

It just gets worse for Iris: after appointing and losing another incompetent MD, then making 20 staff redundant….now Morrish & Co (the ILE 1.8 product champion AKA eary adopter) have now decided to ditch ILE and revert back to V9. This is the end of Iris ILE as we know it.
No surprise, the Iris Product Management team are a complete joke: they refuse to comunicate with clients, are woefully led and think that they know best what the clients want rather than the clients.

As an iris employee my colleagues all seemed very happy with Tony. I see this more as a fact that he has given up. The mistake Iris made was upgrading the v9 clients to ILE before it was fully ready and had all the v9 functionality

The realy ironic thing about all this is that there is still a great deal of loyalty to the various “brands” within Iris, and I suspect a fair amount of ex employee,s who would be tempted to return if there was any form of leadership at Iris.
Just look at all the entries there is here every time Iris is mentioned. yes there is the obvious competitor stirring things, but a number of entries are clearly from staff ex staff and clients.If they did not care they would not bother writing.
So Martin, the brands and to some extent the products still have a vestige of value left (not just in terms of support revenue). Find someone who understands the legal sector who wants build it for the long term. I know short term revenue is important, but in the mature legal market customer loyalty is probably the most under rated asset you have. Clients want to belive that Iris can deliver.
Oh on the subject of Jim Chase. The sale to CSG was nothing to do with him. Ironically Aimlegal had a very good year the when it was sold to CSG.
Oh and rumour has it that Vin is buiding another vertical market supplier to sell on to someone, medical pratice system? Not sure that Iris will buy that one though……

I would totally concur with the above statement. Ex-employees, such as myself from AIM/Evolution, would be more than happy to consider a return should the loved Evolution product be re-born… We knew what we were doing and whilst you can't keep everyone happy all the time, the company and product in the main worked very well – why? – because we know the legal market very very well, its a no brainer… Bringing in non-legal IT staff was madness. And Martin, you knew this because a number of our clients were telling you this, both at the roadshows and directly!

I understand that the Iris Legal redundancies have now spiralled from 20 to 'a significant number', though there still hasn't been any formal communcation. The incompetency of the Iris Legal senior management team have led the company into this appalling mess so dare we hope they are among the redundancies? Closely followed by the inept Iris Legal Sales team?? No, I would assume it is those operational members of staff who actually add value to the Legal division!!!

Why anyone is surprised by all of this beats me. With the debt levels Iris has, combined with the broken product strategies, low client satisfaction and weak senior management, it's only a matter of time before the Private Equity vultures start circling to slice off the profitable parts.
In the meantime, the market polarisation continues – Elite finally has 3e working so watch out Aderant at the top end – Thompson Elite can now make hay. In the midmarket LexisNexis seems to be quietly getting on with things with dna and visualfiles back on track and winning business. Rumour has it that their soon-to-be-launched BPM top-end product is going to kill the traditional BPM vendors.
So that all leaves the bottom end of the market which Iris is making a hash of.

When Videss was owned by Paul Sanderson the company was going somewhere. Chris Rose, Graham Moore, Graham Morris and others dealt with the company professionally and had a decent package on their hands. The end of that came when Paul sold them all out! It has gone from bad to worse once Iris took the company over. What I do not understand, is why, no one, not even their customers or Aim customers could see this coming? Did they really think that once a company as huge and as detached from the legal sector as Iris is, took them over, that the product and the staff knowledge would remain? Of course not! The whole legal software sector was waiting for this to happen. It was just a matter of time. As for Aim staff returning, it is not going to happen. This is not part of the big plan that Iris has. Come on, wake up and smell the coffee… Good bye Aim, Good bye Videss and hello new 'un-named' system launch! Paul Sanderson, look what you have done and all for the sake of money in your pocket. You may well be laughing at your timing to get out but what about the legal firms stuck with a product with a finite life?
Chris Rose, man for the job… err anyone who has had dealings with Chris would know that is a no, no! Nothing against the man just not the man for the job. Thing is, is there such a man/woman for the job and does Iris really care?
I suggest that all of the legal firms with either of these products take the step into looking for another one to replace such within the next 18 months.
None of this had to happen. Iris are too big to listen, too big to care about the small companies and too narrow minded to go back.
Good luck to any law firm with any product owned by Iris but don't expect to see it still around in 4 years time as I very much doubt it will be.

I am not a vendor, a client nor an employee of IRIS, but am becoming increasingly bewildered at the perception that there is some level of currency to be had from poking at IRIS whenever anything happens there.
Whilst we cannot ignore the fact that the MD of IRIS Legal has gone I am reticent to draw too many conclusions from any of this. It appears that others do not feel the same and this leads me to ask why?
There is no doubt that the anonymous nature of this posting offers all -including me the facility to say what we feel without recrimination, but it is abundantly clear that this luxury may be being abused by those that seek to profit from an alleged demise or mismanagement. My perception is that the gossips are fearful of the effect such a large organization is likely to have on their own profits and status quo.
Take the point of the debt that IRIS have “taken on”.. To my knowledge there are very few vendors in the sector that have achieved their position without borrowing. IMO the level of borrowing is largely irrelevant as there have been times (as I know) when other vendors have sailed closer to the wind than Iris apparently do, but have still come out the other side.
My final question is to ask why all of you feel the need to poke sticks so quickly at the big, successful newcomer to your playground. Could it be that the new pretty boy might have something new to say to the prettiest girl in class? In my experience it is always best to self improve than to deride others, and in this respect I offer my advice. If this sector really wants to do IRIS out of its potential then getting your own houses in order would be a priority as my 25 years in software consultancy and 15 years in legal tells me that we have been waiting for someone like IRIS to come in and shine the light.. I see a lot of bunnies running for the roadside..

and as a consultant I am sure that you will be recommending Iris Legal software at the first opportunity.

What a complete nonsense of a comment.
If your experience in the legal IT sector was worth anything you would realise the significance of CSG/IRIS entering this market and ballsing up so royally.
This isn't about a new vendor coming to market and eying up the pretty girl. This is about a new vendor entering the market by buying up established and respected brands and products and then proceeding to screw them and their respective clients.
I agree with you that the legal IT sector needs a big shake up. IRIS has simply proven it isn't the firm to do at the moment.
That isn't to say they can't get their house in order and turn things around eventually.

Well thats rediculous – what everyone is doing is either performing the nature of blogging, as indeed you yourself is doing, venting one's spleen as an ex-employee or informing readers/bloggers of their own subjective opinion (or informed opinion if you are part of IRIS or were…). There is nothing “pretty”about their ILE product in the “playground” at all! Its more a monster from the deep looking to suck up plankton but they are actually doing is repelling them with all of their U turns a year ago and poor customer satisfaction. I also need to look up the definition of successful as I may have the wrong one… The only thing they are successful at is making the wrong staff redundant, employing non-legal staff in their place and giving customers what they don't really want..

I liked this line…
“take the point of the debt that IRIS have “taken on”.. To my knowledge there are very few vendors in the sector that have achieved their position without borrowing. IMO the level of borrowing is largely irrelevant as there have been times (as I know) when other vendors have sailed closer to the wind than Iris apparently do, but have still come out the other side.”
There is no other purely legal vendor that has ever taken on this level of debt – there are Third World countries with smaller debts.

Not sure whether this deserves another string but just heard that IRIS have bought out AM Systems in Ireland

A bit tenuous but if you equate GDP to Revenue and Public Debt to Corporate Debt Iris has a debt which is just under 500% of GDP. This is actually worse than any 3rd word country. Zimbabwe is under 250% (according to Wikipedia and others).

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