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Setting a Precedent - Business Intelligence at Zelle Hofmann

Published
  • May 01 2005, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER:  Warren P. Knowles, technology implementation manager for Zelle, Hofmann, Voelbel, Mason & Gette LLP.BACKGROUND: Headquartered in Minneapolis, Zelle, Hofmann, Voelbel, Mason & Gette LLP is a premier dispute resolution and litigation law firm with six offices across the United States. The firm excels in handling complex litigation and disputes on a national and international basis.

PLATFORMS: Dell PowerEdge 1650 (Pentium IV, 2.0 GhZ, 1GB RAM), Windows 2000 SP4. Running against SQL 2000, SQL 7.0 and Novell EDirectory databases.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Generating accurate reports from our financial system posed a major challenge for our accounting department. We had four different tracking and reporting products, none of which were compatible with the others and each with its own expensive support contracts and dependencies on outside consultants. The out-of-the-box reporting solutions did not give us the exact data we required, and our accounting department often found themselves spending hours combining data from multiple reports to create one report.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY:
Hummingbird BI allows us to consolidate our financial reporting procedures into one product and streamline reporting, providing flexibility and improved delivery to attorneys.

STRENGTHS: The attorneys and partners benefit from the user-friendly interface of Hummingbird BI to create superior financial reporting quickly and efficiently, thereby improving productivity. We use Hummingbird BI to create comprehensive reports that give users data the way they've always wanted to see it, and that significantly reduced processing time and paper. Additionally, the easy to use BI Web interface allows anyone to run reports - not just users familiar with our financial system - freeing up valuable time for our accounting staff. Recently, the BI Scheduler utility has become central to our reporting process. We use it to trigger active e-mail report distribution based on dynamic criteria recognition. This fast and efficient delivery method allows users to automatically receive reports when data or processes have changed or been updated.

WEAKNESSES:
A certain level of technical proficiency is required to develop and design a reporting base. Starting from scratch with BI and trying to achieve the goal of replacing all of our current reporting methods required advanced knowledge of BI and the databases we were reporting against. BI's capabilities and its potential to reinvent our reporting strategy proved to be very challenging for our firm's limited technical resources.

SELECTION CRITERIA: For years, we purchased, experimented with and implemented numerous reporting tools. Expensive contracts, lack of control and overall void of a centralized reporting product led us to Hummingbird BI.

DELIVERABLES: Hummingbird BI provides us with a customized, matter-centric data model and a comprehensive set of pre-built reports specifically designed for the legal industry. Our attorneys can access data across multiple reporting systems easily and quickly, conduct on-the-fly queries and analysis, and generate reports on time and billing, client or matter-related, financial, practice area or attorney-based data. Hummingbird BI also allows us to report on our Genifax electronic fax system for billing purposes. Also, our IT department has created a custom report that provides a detailed summary of each attorney's continuing legal education.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Hummingbird was very excited about our ambitious plan to develop BI as an enterprise reporting platform. Our account representative was actively involved in our project plan and constantly made Hummingbird's BI experts available during our implementation and development process. Their support expedited our implementation and rollout process greatly.

DOCUMENTATION: Installation and configuration documentation was detailed and complete enough to get the product up and running. However, because BI is the machine that processes the data you already have, each installation will be entirely different. The magic that needs to happen after the program is installed can't necessarily be documented because each installation is unique.

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