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Shoosmiths drop Elite for SAP – amended

Breaking news… Shoosmiths has selected the SAP/TCS (Tata) platform as a replacement for its existing Elite Eterprise PMS. The two vendors in the final run-off were SAP/TCS and Elite with 3E.

• Elite have asked us to point out that Shoosmiths is not on Enterprise PMS. “They are currently running Elite-for-Windows (2.5D version and Informix) which was released in 1997. Less than a handful of Elite’s clients are still on this version.”

36 replies on “Shoosmiths drop Elite for SAP – amended”

What???? are they mad?? – Charles, is this correct or have you just got back from a long lunch?

Charles Christian says… No long lunch here – and by mad, are you suggesting they may have caught holmanfenwickitis ?

it may have crossed my mind :-), although after a bit more thought I realised there may have been some heavy bias in the decision process, and that along with that perhaps a deal in a lifetime had been offered?

If it was a long lunch then it must have started early as the message was posted just after 1pm!

That was 1:00pm Norfolk time – and you know what they say about Norfolk – 100 miles & 20 years from London

aren't Shoosmiths based out that way in tractor country somewhere?

Rumour has it that it was a unanimous decision by the board to move forward with SAP. It would be really interesting to know why Aderant were not seriously considered? Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

If you look up David Bason, the head of IS at Shoosmiths, on LinkedIn, it says this in his profile…
Current
* IS Director at Shoosmiths
Past
* Service Delivery Manager at Axon
* SAP Practice Manager at PCMS Datafit, Inc
The work bit
A senior IT professional with 20 years in the industry and more than 9 years as an IT Director managing medium sized IT departments and multi million pound budgets along with managed services and consultancy experience. I have international experience including the US and Australia, and across many industry sectors including Retail, FMCG and manufacturing. My ability to contribute to development of organisations is enhanced through extensive business knowledge and experience. I am a highly self motivated individual who always sets high standards. Through leading by example, I am able to create committed and loyal teams who strive for excellence. I am a strategic visionary with the ability to implement pragmatic solutions with a ‘hands on’ style. I have extensive experience in managing large infrastructure and business change projects including SAP. I have the ability to align IT with the business and deliver operational services to SLA and best practice.

On the one hand, you've got think that at last there is fighting chance of getting “SAP for the rest of us” after many years of vapour.
On the other, Shoosmiths were (one of) the first to try to put Elite 2.x on SQL Server rather than Informix, and that didn't go too well I seem to recall.

Charles Christian writes… New partners and new IT director – law firms have no corporate memory, which is why they keep repeating the same mistakes. Just listen to the guff firms are saying now about dealing with the recession & how things will be different in the future. Exactly the same as they said after the last legal sector recession in the early 1990s. Will they learn their lessons? Of course not.

You've got to feel sorry for the partners though – it's going to cost them a packet and their Christmas bonuses will all suffer heavily. I wonder if any of them have read this thread…
Anyone willing to place a wager that the project runs way over, blows the budget by 50%+ and the IT director suddenly finds himself another job outside of legal where 'those crazy legal sector people' don't play?

Message to Shoesmiths Fee Earners – you probably just kissed goodbye to system agility and a big chunk of PEP and now have to look forward to industrial-strength mediocrity in your PMS for the next ten years. I can picture it now… “dear mr TCS, I need to make some system adjustments to ensure that I stay ahead of my competitors – just af few tweaks to my draft billing screens”… “No problem sir, we'll have that up and running in nine months and it will only cost you £250K”.

Are they sure they and/or David Bason are going to still be around in May next year?

As FU said, “You might think that, I could not possibly comment”

two points spring to mind….
1) Is this what the world has become in 2009? – a story gets posted about how someone has has made a decision to stray from the accepted norm in their PMS selection and people jump on it and display their cynical negativity without even considering that there could be valid business justification for doing so.
2) I'd like to hear what competitive edge can be gleaned from changing a few draft billing screens. Surely if you want true competitive edge would you not push the boat out and do electronic billing. Go on treat yourself….

Given Elite have also lost Baker McKenzie in the US, it looks as if the landscape is changing from a position where Elite was the market leader to being 1 of 3 with Aderant and SAP/TATA. Good news forthe legal industry, bad news for Elite, as other large firms like Freshfields will surely follow the SAP route, whilst the mid-range firms will continue to select Aderant over 3E.

Charles Christian adds… One extra order for SAP (tho of course we're all waiting a formal announcement by Baker Mack) does not turn this into a 3 horse race – and Elite are likely to have all their 3E ducks in order in their core market in the US by the time the recession is over & firms come back out to upgrade their PMS platforms. We're also hearing rumblings of a potential 4th global PMS vendor (& we're not talking Lexis).

I disagree Charles. Whilst it is only one order, every order now for SAP is almost barometric as we look at depressed market conditions. A&O are now live, as are a few other early adopters, but that seems to make little or no difference to current evaluators. Add to this the fact that Elite still haven't fixed the fundamental issues of conversion, implementation time and multi-currency. Then you have the state of the business – Elite are looking make more international layoffs, whilst Aderant are hiring. I agree with the point about the core (US) market, but They are a wounded animal and it remains to be seen how bad those wounds will be.

Charles, Bakers are Elite's largest global customer. A move to SAP is going to hurt their profitablity big time through lost maintenance revenues – which must be 6 figures per annum. Great to see some genuine competition now in the market though – it means everyone will have to pull their socks up.

Charles,
We share the same interest in Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and Miracles records.
There could indeed be a 4th Global PMS player doing something just in time for the light at the end of the tunnel to be switched back on. A bit more competition and innovation in a jaded PMS marketplace after all these years would be just the ticket.

If this guy is so good why is he working for a regional law firm? It is interesting how his skills in retail, FMCG and manufacturing will be used in an environment where time and billing are fundamental or perhaps Shoosmiths are moving into logistics so that they can make SAP fit. Given the recently reported drop in profits at Shoosmiths it is amazing that they investing in SAP especially where employees who have SAP skills can double their pay compared to typical legal IT staff. I would love to have seen the business case put forward for this project. I can't see how any IT savvy partner would allow this to take place as they are allowing non proven solution in terms of legal success decide how their money is spent at the poker table.

If you were a large firm like Freshfields you would have to think long and hard about jumping to SAP. Just on financial grounds, the licence costs and implementation costs would be in the region of €10's^7 (or 10's of partners earnings). Let's be charitable and say the ongoing support would be the same as the outgoing system. So if you could quantify any competitive advantage SAP would give them at €10^6 or more likely €10^5 it means the payback period in simple terms would be in the region of 10+ years. It would be a brave decision to back that horse.

I have been told that A&O have said that the payback period for the 3E system is in the region of 18 months.

rumblings of a 4th potential vendor? Not a cue for more posters having a go at IRIS surely?

I agree with your analysis regarding a large firm move to SAP. Where a large firm already has all the pms functionality it needs and has established:
· comprehensive business intelligence methods (a.k.a. reporting)
· solid working practices
· good systems integration
and has a pms product which:
· is stable.
· is maintained and is maintainable for the foreseeable future.
· has a well thought out development road map.
then any incremental competitive advantage will be small and the decision to switch pms's just cannot be justified in pure financial terms. If you are coming from a background where your pms does not tick all the previous boxes then the incremental competitive advantage will be greater.
That said Shoosmiths are a horse of a different color and may just be one step ahead of the game here. The decision gives clues as to how they may be thinking.
Bear with me and I will explain my conjecture:
SAP is strong in the field of scalable high volume low transaction value accounting with excellent integration to other commercial (read “non legal”) systems. If you were able to receive high volume instruction by virtue of that integration then you would be able to secure “clients” who would want to take advantage of that integration. Winning two of three large clients with high volume low value requirements (for example debt collection or legal services for a large supermarket chain ..) would give you the significant competitive advantage to make financial sense and justify the investment. Admittedly there would be other parts of the individual puzzles to solve such as the reporting angles and the workflow considerations but rather than slating this decision we should watch with interest to see what evolves.

Freshfields already has the required licences for SAP waiting on the shelf to use as these were negotiated into the deal when they bought SAP for other back office systems. The good old” wooden horse through the gates” trick.

Charles is right, it looks like it will be straight fight between SAP and Elite for global domination – Aderant seem to be suffering the same as Elite 18 months ago, with too few resources and and golden gate still in beta. Let's remember that they still cannot cope with small, single office installations (Boodle, Farrer, Collyer all behind schedule) let alone Hill Dickinson and Berrymans in the pipeline – that is a long queue to join.

More supplier propoganda – I had lunch with the A&O PM a few weeks ago and was told they are live in ALL 26 offices across the globe, on full multi currency – so your fact is incorrect on that score, and suspect the conversions must have gone well too !!.
Good luck to Shoosmiths, yes they will need it, but thanks for bucking the trend.

I understand your suggestion that by installing SAP Shoosmiths may obtain a competitive advantage and it will be interesting to watch developments. My take is that for SAP to deliver what best of breed solutions do already will take a huge amount of development and it will not be the panacea they envisage. My understanding is that to date SAP has not been successfully implemented in a UK law firm other than some back office functionality. With this in mind I find it difficult to see how this 'bespoke' solution will deliver the ROI that the Partnership seek. I guess all will be revealed over the next year or so though a year in SAP terms is optimistic as one UK Water Utility will tell you that their 40 SAP contractors are now into their third year on site as this product just keeps creating projects. So it looks like the IT department will never be short of work. But for the sake of this firm and developments in legal application software lets' hope I am wrong

Charles Christian says: can the last commentator on A&O + Elite 3E repost their comments but without the defamatory remarks about SAP etc. This is a technology sandpit – we don't want those rough boys from the libel lawyers getting involved thank you very much.

Doubt if the 4th potential vendor is Iris as the coffee machine gossip is all about the new contract for sales people. They are saying that they have to achieve 100% of target in a quarter or they could be sacked.

Well it does look like they have thought long and hard about it and have decided: http://www.theorangerag.com/blog/_archives/2009/9/14/4321131.html
Interestingly, judging from Charles's “Other sources” the same argument applies to Elite 3E. Now on the face of it this surprises me. But re-reading this post in the light of a subsequent comment below things have become clearer to my mind.
“I agree with your analysis regarding a large firm move to SAP. Where a large firm already has all the pms functionality it needs and has established:
· comprehensive business intelligence methods (a.k.a. reporting)
· solid working practices
· good systems integration
and has a pms product which:
· is stable.
· is maintained and is maintainable for the foreseeable future.
· has a well thought out development road map.
then any incremental competitive advantage will be small and the decision to switch pms's just cannot be justified in pure financial terms. If you are coming from a background where your pms does not tick all the previous boxes then the incremental competitive advantage will be greater. ”
From where they (Freshfields) stand at the moment (with Tikit Firmware) the incremental competitive advantage of either 3E or SAP must simply be outweighed by the cost. Freshfields comments would also point to the fact that Tikit/Resolution Software must have been quietly adding features and functionality this last decade or more for this still to be the case. Charles's 4th potential PMS vendor?

It seems that Duncan Campbell has now left Tata/TCS – so who's now looking after their legal market projects?

I just came across this post. If only Shoosmiths had taken note at the time. The software still hasn’t come online

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