When Simkins had the opportunity to modernise its cost recovery system the choice boiled down to Equitrac, PaperCut or nQueue. Nick Wright, IT manager at Simkins LLP describes the journey and the outcome.

Simkins LLP was founded in 1962 as one of the pioneering firms for the entertainment and media industry and is still best known for its market-leading practice in that area. Today the firm works with clients from a broad range of industries and offers a full range of legal services in corporate and commercial law, property law, employment law and dispute resolution.

From the early days of accounts clerks sticking their 2B pencil in the air and adding a random surcharge to a bill ostensibly to recover costs and of secretaries having to say how many pages of A4 they have typed, cost recovery has always been a necessary evil in the professional services world. However, requirements are changing. As an industry we are generating less paper; we are scanning more but copying and printing less.

As the IT manager for Simkins LLP, I recently faced an opportunity to modernize our cost recovery. Our multi-function printers (MFPs) were nearing the end of their life and it was envisaged that we would need to re-purchase our cost recovery mechanism with any new devices. The firm had implemented Equitrac a few years ago, but the system uses external touchpoints for users to authenticate and enter matter details, which caused a certain amount of frustration among our attorneys. Having worked with solutions in the past that were embedded in the MFP, I was keen to research alternatives.

A colleague and I attended the Legal IT show earlier this year, primarily to look at practice management and customer relationship solutions, and we happened on the nQueue stand. At first, I was just tempted by the offer of a free plush kangaroo, but when I spent time talking to their business development manager, Nicola Smith, about nQueue and their solutions I realized I was looking at a more focused product for our cost recovery. We also made time to attend Nicola’s presentation centring around reducing the paper usage in law firms; I’m already sold on the idea, however it was very useful to be able to confirm to the partners that paper misuse is a real issue and that addressing it is worthwhile.

The choice boiled down to Equitrac, PaperCut or nQueue. Concerns around the recent acquisition of Nuance by Kofax largely ruled out Equitrac. Papercut—although heavily pushed by the MFP suppliers—is not really legal focused and, critically, does not have direct links into our iManage document management solution. Seeing a demo of nQueue’s Embedded solutions, meeting with their team, and learning of the very competitive price they were able to offer us made the decision remarkably easy.

We were keen to implement quickly on new Xerox MFPs, so to avoid delays we were able to secure a loan machine from the supplier in order to move forward without impacting the users.

Led by Nicola and its director of products Phil Hewson, and supported by their CEO Rick Hellers, nQueue’s team has implemented the solution swiftly and assuredly. Even when we identified a couple of bugs, they were able to replicate the problem and have a new build ready the following morning for testing on site. Phil and his team have always been quick to respond and, and do not seem frustrated by my sometimes-changing goal posts!

Improving the efficiency and the accuracy of recording those costs is extremely important. While one might argue that there are fewer costs to recover these days, I believe it’s just that there are different costs to recover. Just as there is a cost to printing a single page of A4 in black and white, there is a cost to scanning a page of A4 and sending it via email. We are thrilled to have found a solution to help us manage and recover those costs efficiently, not only so we can get our bills out quicker, but so that we really can understand the cost of doing business as we scan more but copy and print less.

Nick Wright is IT Manager at Simkins LLP, a leading media and commercial law firm. He has experience in most aspects of IT, including servers, desktops. security, virtualisation and mobility. Prior to Simkins LLP, he served as Head of IT for The Royal Air Force Museum and IT Manager at the law firm of Page White & Farrer and for the Sci Fi Channel.

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