Forecasting in Uncertainty. This last two weeks has changed our worlds entirely. Many of us are working from home, struggling with billing hours, dealing with clients, financial strain and even lay offs. This is not a time to push sales, but it is also not a time to panic. While stress may be causing you to to wonder about the future of your business, our forecasting product remains here to help. We want to give you our onePlan/proCube product for three months, to help you weather the storm.

The impact of this situation can be modeled out. As the premier Business Intelligence company for Professional Services organizations, we are happy to use our products and expertise to assist you during this uncertain time.

ADDING expenses right now is not an option for your firm. 9DOTS will create the necessary models to help you. Changes like this are unpredictable. Protect yourself and your firm with timely, fluid and accurate forecasts to maintain forward motion with confidence. With 9Dots Forecasting, you have the features and capabilities you need to produce dynamic forecasts to run your business.

This is literally what we do: forecasting in uncertainty. We can help you during this time, and help you make sure you are prepared if something like this ever happens again. We want to help you the best way that we know how: solving problems with our solutions.

Please contact us here and don’t worry about expenses for three months.

4 Quick Budgeting Tips.  Don’t worry. Budgeting season isn’t here yet, you still have time. But we all know what it is like when we push things off thinking time will slow down. It never does, does it?! That’s why 9DOTS is going to ease you in. Today we are starting with some quick budgeting & forecasting tips for businesses from thought leaders & CEOs. For some more detailed Rolling Forecasting Benefits, this is a great, short animated video. 

4 Tips to Implement Today

  1. Be Positive: Easier said than done, we know. But this was a tip on many thought leader’s lists. It is not the most tangible tip, but an important one to start this short, but impactful list. If you spend half of the year dreading budgeting season, stressing over spreadsheets and numbers, despising even going into work, shift your mindset. We know you aren’t going to suddenly love budgeting season. But if you put these following tips into place, everything will seem a bit simpler & you may not dread it too much. 
  1. Keep it Simple: Thought leaders at TrueSky say making your processes too complicated will overwhelm users, “If input leaders feel they are presented with too much data, the budgeting process quickly becomes overwhelming. Considering using a system: does everyone need to see every bit of data? Likely not. By limiting what data users have access to, help make sure they are only focusing on budgeting in the areas they need. This simplifies the process for all, in turn saving the amount of time spent on budgeting. 
  1. Know Your Organization: What kind of budget is best for your company? Think about your organization. Identify areas of improvement. Steve Jordan from Wipfli stresses understanding the risks of your organization and it’s industry, “There are different types of budgets. Some organizations have different financial performance measures. For example, if you operate in an industry that is significantly seasonal in nature, you will likely need to break down an annual budget to a quarterly or monthly approach. Regardless of which way to budget, everyone in your organization needs to be on the same page when it comes to goals.” 
  1. Utilize the Right Tools: EXCEL is OKAY: 89% of users use Excel for Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting. Keep the reliability of the work you do every single day. But recognize it’s limitationsIn tip #4, we talked about finding comfort in using Excel. It is okay to use the tools you are familiar with, especially when it is one that stands the the test of time like Excel spreadsheets. But how long does it take to chop down a tree with a dull blade? Excel is an excellent axe, with a dull blade. Sharpen it. Enhance it with a streamlined budgeting & forecasting software. Your budgeting season will be smoother & data collection simpler.  

Finally, if you start implementing these tips today, step one, “Be Positive” will start to feel a little bit easier. After that, the rest will all fall into place. If you are looking for a new budgeting solution, an improved plan, or interested in more information: check out this download on our budgeting & forecasting software. Or Contact Us, 9DOTS, using this form .

Better Software. Better Service. Better Together.

Today is an exciting day as 9DOTS Management Corp becomes a partner with Clearview Software. Clearview’s “Better Software” paired with 9DOTS’ better service is an out of the box solution that truly makes us as a team, better together.

We now have the opportunity to attack the market place. And not just as a solution provider with BI/CPM tools. But also with a partner that offers one platform for all your needs in the AEC industry. With their expertise AND their software, Clearview is a modern application built from the ground up that is solely focused on streamlining the AEC business and helping their clients improve their bottom line. 9DOTS mindset has been similar in our service. 9DOTS mindset has always been to provide solutions that focus on you the customers. We care about the client, and we believe you can have equal performance in your software as you do the value that comes from it.

Thinking Outside of the Box

In true 9DOTS fashion, we are problem solvers.  Like the 9 Dots Puzzle, we looked for an outside of the box solution to that problem. By partnering with Clearview we went out of the box to become a team of better software, better solutions, & better service. And we are thrilled to add you, the AEC firm, into the mix. It’s time to step away from old software that has been cobbled together. Break out of the box with a single integrated platform that can handle everything your firm needs and wants.

Finally, Check out the video below for a chat with our CEO & our mission with Clearview. We look forward to extending our service offerings, our solutions & software offerings throughout 2020 and beyond!

Budgeting Season Best Practices. Fall is finally here! Cooler weather, beautiful leaves changing. And while fall may be one of our favorite seasons of the year, budgeting season is absolutely not. Your company employees will spend late hours, and long nights, to sort out the budget. How does it normally go for your professional services organization? Does it run smoothly? Or do you feel like your drowning in spread sheets with mind numbing lists of numbers and reports? Do you feel limited using Excel? We understand the limitations of spreadsheets and manual data collection, and that these can often drive you insane. Here are our Budgeting Season Best Practices :

Use The BEST Tools: There have been a few detailed blog posts on our love for Excel. We recognize how awesome it is, and how it has stood the test of time, being used by almost every single business in the world for some type of data collection & reporting. But we also recognize, at times like these, (Budgeting Season), Excel has limitations. There are tools that you can use, that will not completely eliminate Excel, but will instead enhance it. Your budgeting season will be smoother, data collection simpler, and time and resources used CORRECTLY during the fall months. These tools, like our onePlan, offer flexibility, control, are faster & save you TIME.

Expand those tools, by PLANNING: Static budgets are a thing of the past. We realize now that our businesses are always changing. Why plan with old numbers and details? With a continuous planning model, data is constantly updated for you. Answering questions you have quickly and re-forecast based on market change. Use your old numbers to answer the questions through the future. You will be able to course correct half-way through the year, and have an even more accurate budget by budgeting season next year.

Budgeting Season Best Practices

Hopefully this is the last time we have to write about “Survival Tips.” Because it shouldn’t feel like surviving. Budgeting season should feel like just a regular part of your year. Finally, it can be fast, easy, simple and streamlined. Adopting new practices and tools is how you stay competitive in your field. And it is essential to better performance. If budgeting is your pain, let’s heal it! You can reduce your budgeting cycle by WEEKS of time. Bragging about how efficient you are next year will be a lot more satisfying than complaining about the tedious budgeting season.

49f62b3258d94d6d4ac269834a99e685_1424395469_cropped.jpgJim Hasset is the founder of LegalBizDez, which helps law firms increase profitability by improving project management, business development, and alternative fees. He recently wrote a chapter in the book by the Ark Group entitled 2020 Vision: The Future of Legal Services., and a lot of it is really important to note to those law firms out there that are reading out blog. The entire chapter of this book is really interesting, but every point he makes surrounds one clear-cut fact, “firms that improve LPM will have a competitive advantage because its growth is being driven by clients.”

Hasset quoted a statistic that is what drew me in and pretty much called on me to write this blog post. In a 2014 Chief Legal Officer Survey, Altman Weil asked a question: “Of the following service improvements and innovations, please select three you would most like to see from your outside counsel.” There were about six concepts listed. The three most chosen were “greater cost reduction (58%), more efficient project management (57%), and improved budgeting and forecasting (57%).”

In Atlman Weil’s 2015 survey, he asked another question of managing partners: What are your opinions on which of fourteen current trends are more likely to be permanent. The answer? 93% put an increased focus on practice efficiency as number one. Legal Project Management leads you to each one of those trends and improves them exponentially for your law firm–greater cost reduction, efficiency, and improved budgeting and forecasting.  But when the same survey asked “Has your firm significantly changed its strategic approach to efficiency of legal service delivery?” only 37% said yes. 

If you are a law firm that wants more clients (and what law firm doesn’t?) than you have to be better than your competition. There are still so many law firms that have yet to get on the LPM bandwagon, even though we KNOW that law firms that have started down the LPM path have the best opportunity to get ahead compared to those who haven’t. Law firms, if you want to beat the best, you have to be the best! What is stopping you?

2015 is coming to an end, and so has your budgeting season.  If you have been reading along, or even if you haven’t, here are a few facts we learned through different surveys and research throughout the year.

A study by Grant Thorton, LLP shows that only 36% of businesses use scenarios and “what-if” analyses to re-check possible outcomes of a strategy.

A study by F1F showed that, out of 1,200 senior managers surveyed yielded stastics like “17% of large businesses suffered financial loss due to poor spreadsheets, and 78% say that key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets.”

Companies spend weeks or even months completing the annual budgeting process, because it is so important. But too many companies fail to supplement the annual budget with planning activities that could strengthen performance management, gain competitive advantage, and of course drive profit!

Read our white paper to figure out how NOT to be a statistic in 2016, and instead stay ahead of the competition. 

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images-1For years, we heard talk of the infamous “Cloud” and how it will cut costs right at implementation. “It has significantly cut upfront capital investments, initial consulting and on-going personnel costs for the vast majority of solutions.” But cutting initial costs isn’t the only benefit the cloud has. Nucleus Research has done more ROI case studies than any other research company, and they see even more value than reducing implementation costs. And each case study has shown the cloud’s cost advantage has made it highly desired. So desired, in fact, that being modern and different by choosing the cloud is not really considered different. Instead, it has become the status quo to have enterprise applications that are cloud-based. “Instead of touting cost savings when evaluating a cloud app, businesses must now justify a higher cost when considering an on-premise solution.”

In 2016, Nucleus found that customers will be increasing spending on analytics by 36%. “As customers search for new solutions, it is important that they take note of the benefits the clod provides because it addresses pain points specific to analytics usage.” In comparison to an on-premise deployment, cloud analytics  delivers “2.3 times more Return on Investment.”  The initial cost savings are exciting, and a main point of focus when we talk about switching to the cloud, but there are even more advantages. For example, the upgrade cycle. Many on-premise upgrades require spending more money, and tons more work. But a cloud-based solution upgrade is simple and inexpensive to change.

Nucleus believes the biggest advantage the cloud has to offer is integration. “Streamlined cloud applications are much easier to integrate, delivering on the promises of Big Data.” Their study found that 86% of analytics users are unhappy with data preparation capabilities, and 92% desire to add additional data sources. “Cloud analytics solutions often have more pre-built connectors that allow users to pull from more data sources more quickly. Many new cloud applications are able to more easily integrate even disparate data streams for a more comprehensive analytics solutions that can provide better insight with a full view of the business.”

This integration gives organizations access to an unlimited amount of information and delivers efficiency, which makes them more powerful as a whole. “Plus analytics is increasingly being integrated with strategic business applications. That has a bottom-line effect on ROI. Better yet, integration itself cuts costs significantly.” The cloud provides an easier path. With the many options that are now available for integration with cloud analytics and other applications, ROI will continue to improve. Initial costs are low, but you can focus on even more value of the cloud for the future.

 

Original article appeared at nucleusresearch.com.

 

 

PI_Jan15_art3PwC has posted their findings from their 2015 Annual Law Firms’ Survey. Through interviewing the Top 100 firms, they have discovered that a top priority for the future of law firms is to focus on pricing and profitability.

Firms are continuing to invest in business improvement programs. The focus of these programs for Top 10 firms is to drive profitability and enhance support services, whilst firms outside of the Top 10 continue to feel pressure to reduce costs to remain competitive. “A growing number of firms have identified the problem and the solution. Pricing capability and sophistication at a firm-wide and individual partner level is being harnessed and for those firms it is having a swift and significant impact.”

It all falls back into the main idea that communicating and understanding your clients is what leads to a successful law firm. A one-size-fits-all process is no longer the most useful. It results in unhappy clients, and a less profitable law firm. “This depth of understanding the client is a critical precursor to being bale to create and articulate to the client an effective pricing strategy or methodology on a particular matter.”

Providing partners with the right tools and methodology for pricing decisions is also considered key. The article discussing the study mentions that pricing improvement has a very quick ROI. “The PwC report found that even IT projects whose objective is improvement of matter pricing, have an average ROI timescale of only four months.” A lack of correct pricing tools “results in what most firms regard as an unacceptable level of what the report referred to as Unplanned Fee Income Write-offs.”

But, the good news is there is a problem AND a solution. With the right tools, they write-offs are significantly reduced. “Pricing capability and sophistication at a firm-wide and individual partner level is being harnessed and for hose firms it is having a swift and significant impact.”

spreadsheet-hell

 

Traditional spreadsheet practice for Planning, Forecasting and Reporting is falling by the wayside. Microsoft Excel is powerful, but for the exponential data your organization has it’s power is just not enough. Strengthen your organization by understanding the ways that tiresome, stressful spreadsheet use can actually hold your company back.

 

  1. Spreadsheets are very susceptible to human error: Incorrect numbers and calculations not only cause a domino effect of mistakes throughout, but they cause speculation of your credibility. When you rely heavily on spreadsheet use, these mistakes can be detrimental. Today, your usual workday and work environment is fast paced. There is no time for error when entering your spreadsheet numbers, but it takes TOO much time to
    stress over every detail to ensure perfection. You need information in real-time. With a business intelligence solution that still uses the familiarity of excel, but eliminates the chance for mistakes you will be leaps and bounds above the competition that still uses spreadsheets, and you have an even smarter way to analyze your data.
  2. Heavy reliance on spreadsheets does not give you the ability to forecast as often, and be as advantageous, as you can: With a business intelligence forecasting solution, you won’t start a budget from scratch. Your organization could continuously forecast at least 18-24 periods forward, and months of crunching numbers can be consolidated to days or even hours. Real-time information and rolling forecasts means your business can focus on today, tomorrow and even manage the future.
  3. It’s challenging to add a dashboarding tool to your processes: But dashboards are actually a great, easy way to analyze data. It’s nearly impossible to view and understand multiple spreadsheets at one glance. With a dashboard, you can see charts and graphs that make all of those spreadsheets make sense. Eliminating the time you’d spend to understand cells of spreadsheets, and adding time to your regular work day.

Eliminate heavy spreadsheet use and empower your business.

 

Clients are constantly calling for better efficiency and cost-effective delivery of legal services.01_homeSlide So why would any legal firm turn down an offer for legal project management, “a rapidly-maturing discipline that is the proximate consequence of the enormous pressures in-house legal leaders now face to trim budgets, choke back rampant costs and long-entrenched inefficiencies, and, particularly, keep a tight leash on outside legal spend.” ?

According to Pam Woldlow, there is no reason, and here are her Top 5 Bad Excuses for turning down Legal Project management:

1. My clients don’t want or need LPM: 

“While all clients may not understand LPM nomenclature, they all want what LPM delivers: better project scoping, better planning and budgeting, better communication and collaboration, and tighter monitoring and control of budgets and costs. Why else would we be seeing such a dramatic increase in RFPs, demands for hard budgets and serious movement towards more cost-effective alternative fee arrangements?”

2. If we are efficient, we won’t make as much money. (And the corollary: if we are efficient, we won’t be able to meet our annual hours requirement). 

“Clients notice which lawyers are careful stewards of their money and which ones deliver great services and great value. They also notice the lawyers who dawdle, churn, reinvent the wheel, communicate poorly, and manage matters indifferently…Efficient lawyers are sought after; inefficient lawyers face tough sledding.”

3. I’ve practice the way I do for decades, and I’m not going to change now. 

” This increasingly obsolete perspective ignores the inevitable collaboration needed by firms that have expanded exponentially, dispersed geographically, and have engagements  involving ever more cross-office participation. The fact that the Single Leader Approach no longer works – and that it does nothing to effectively disseminate accumulated knowledge — is not keeping lawyers threatened by change from insisting that it remains the one true service delivery path.”

4. All my matters are unique, and LPM imposes a bunch of lockstep protocols that will standardize all legal work and devalue my legal judgement. 

“The astronomical growth of Legal Process Outsourcing and other alternative legal delivery vehicles clearly demonstrates that in fact law is a lot more commoditized than most law firm lawyers prefer to think.”

5. LPM is all about monitoring and metrics, and my mamma didn’t raise me to be a math major. Also, LPM will impose a whole new learning curve and add a ton of additional work to my already overburdened schedule. 

“Law is not about clean room manufacturing protocols; it’s about the nuanced affairs and interactions of human beings. Fear not: lawyers will continue to be indispensable. LPM, while it may make productive use of templates and technologies, is fundamentally a matter of common sense and collaborative communication, consistently applied. It sharpens up legal processes, not legal content.”

Woldow concludes her article by making sure her readers know that from all of those she’s spoken to and all of the research she’s done, those who have mastered LPM tools say that “LPM eases their burdens rather than increases them.”