Experience management software provider Foundation Software Group in April launched a new client management application, as client insights are pushed up the value chain from “nice to have” to “mission critical”.

The new application leverages the related experience, expertise and relationship information stored in Foundation’s firm intelligence platform to provide a full picture of a firm’s relationship with their clients, including related matters and associated lawyers.

Client analytics provide insights and relationship indicators to assess health and inform client strategy.

The application lays across all core systems and users are able to search for information using natural language, searching, for example, for relevant parties or to find who has billed the client what.

The application can help with staffing by looking at representative matters and who has worked on them.  It also shows how many practice groups and partners a matter touches – it’s “sticky” if it touches more than three – and can be used to create a report of what a firm is doing with clients across all of its practice areas or, perhaps more interestingly, highlight the “white spaces” where there is no activity.

Catherine Zinn, chief client officer at Orrick, said: “We take a broad view of CRM, looking at it as a process best supported through multiple perspectives and technologies.  By using Foundation Client Management as the top layer in our CRM technology stack, we can get a full 360° view of a client’s relationship with our firm, enabling us to improve client service and identify potential”.

Foundation counts among its clients around 21 of the Am Law 100 firms, including Akin Gump, Baker Botts, Blank Rome, Duane Morris, Hunton Andrews Kurth, McGuire Woods, Orrick, Pillsbury, Seyfarth, Sidley Austin, Skadden, and Troutman Sanders.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider about the new application, co-founder Nate Fineberg said: “Competition among legal service providers has never been greater and clients are demanding proof of experience – saying ‘if you’re going to do this work I want to know you’ve done something similar before.’  They want to see the last five deals.  Who were the lawyers and what were the outcomes?  And you need to access that information easily or you can’t compete.

“Foundation has become mission critical.  I can’t take any credit for the market, but the rising tide is good for us and demand is there.  We also have a really good product.”

In terms of whether the new client management application means that Foundation now competes as a CRM tool, Fineberg says: “Is CRM a strategy or a tool?  We say it’s a combination of process and tools.  In legal there’s a lack of understanding of CRM and it’s a challenge for law firm management.  There’s also a lot of overselling being done.

“The challenges that firms are facing are the same as 15 years ago.  It doesn’t matter if your software is in the cloud or on-premises, you still have the same challenges.  We think CRM is a combination of strategy, process and products.  We don’t feel like we compete with other CRM tools, we complement them.  We see ourselves as bringing it all together.”