Merged twice in the last two years, Howard Kennedy is now focussing its attention inwards by updating its outdated systems with a significant investment in technology; implementing a new three-year roadmap; and hiring Maria Allo-Fernandez as business project manager (BPM).
Led by Clive Knott, Olswang’s former IT director who joined Howard Kennedy in April 2014, the top 75 UK firm has bought Thomson Reuters Elite’s (TRE’s) matter management solution Mattersphere and client relationship management solution ContactNet, as it prepares to upgrade to TRE’s Enterprise 3.10 practice management solution.
In a series of further investments, the firm has moved from using HighQ’s online deal room on an ad hoc basis to taking the whole solution, and it is in the process of rolling out BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 (BES12).
The investments are part of a three-year IT strategy plan put in place at the start of this year. The end of this year will see the simultaneous upgrade of Enterprise and roll out of Mattersphere, which need to go live at the same time because Enterprise does not talk to Howard Kennedy’s old Adobe workflow solution. Knott said: “They both have to go live at Christmas but we may finish some parts in the New Year.”
Knott and his team chose Mattersphere because of its easy integration with Enterprise and has been adapting it for the firm, including building in conflict checks that can be kept from other parts of the business where the work is confidential.
Enterprise users have been expecting TRE to announce that the system, which was built in 1998, will be sunsetted. In a statement TRE said: “The official end date for Enterprise has not yet been announced, but we are actively planning for the future. We will be communicating with our clients regularly as product and support decisions are made. It is our commitment that we will provide clients with at least four years notice prior to stopping support for Enterprise.” Next year will see Howard Kennedy roll out ContactNet, which is currently in pilot phase and will be used to build a comprehensive database of contacts by mining relationships from email and other enterprise systems.
The firm’s upgrade to BES12, meanwhile, will come into effect in September 2015. Partners will have the option to continue using a different device and Knott said: “Own devices will be managed through BES12. We’ve got the versatility that you want as a technical team.”
Further developments will see Howard Kennedy’s plot sales team, headed by partner Jodie Campbell, upgrade its technology to become more efficient including generating more templates. Knott said: “We’ll use Mattersphere to give clients the ability to see the plots and what is taking place.” Real estate is by far Howard Kennedy’s largest department, representing 40% of turnover, and the plot sales team help property developers with the pre-sales for off-plan agreements.
Helping with the new road map and implementation of Howard Kennedy’s plans will be Allo-Fernandez, who joined Howard Kennedy in March as BPM from Burberry, where she was a user adoption manager. Between October 1999 and October 2011, Allo-Fernandez worked as international IT trainer and then global service desk IT trainer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. November 2011 to October 2014 saw her work for Freshfields as a project manager while at Evalueserve.
The hire and investment represent a strong statement of intent from Howard Kennedy, which in January 2013 merged with Finers Stephens Innocent, creating a £39m enterprise. In 2014 the firm entered into failed merger talks with Davenport Lyons before merging that same year with London boutique CKFT, bringing annual revenue up to just under £44m.
Called HowardKennedyFSI after the first merger, the firm rebranded last year to return to being called Howard Kennedy.