With 2017 well underway, we want to sincerely thank our customers for all of the valuable feedback and collaboration you shared with us during 2016. Last year saw many improvements and new features for Cael LPM, and all of those things wouldn’t have been possible without our users.
Many new features and enhancements were added every month, and a complete history of release notes can be found on our Cael LPM updates page, but we’d like to take a moment to highlight some of last year’s key milestones, which included:
- Cael Client View, the web portal facility by which a law firm’s clients can directly view high-level progress information concerning client matters being run by the client’s law firm within Cael LPM. This module received important user feedback from pilot users and is now being canvassed as another tool to strengthen collaboration between law firm and client, and increase the efficiency by which matters are progressed.
- The first release of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), enabling clients to write their own programs to retrieve data from Cael LPM matter plans and include them in in-house data-analysis systems, custom reports or other landing pages.
- The Monthly Budgeting tab allows clients to allocate, over calendar months, sums from an overall Task Budget or Estimate, to model how fee funds are likely to be consumed over the period, vs. one lump sum.
- Checklists at Task level were introduced during the year, and have proved popular with clients who run regular matter types in Litigation and M&A practices. An API was extended to include Checklist information in its data extract, enabling clients to write Word macros to produce formatted checklists for distribution as matter management aids.
- The Profitability tab was enhanced to include simple profitability analysis on both the estimate and the budgeted plan. This enhancement provides users with the ability to analyze profitability differences between an estimate and what may be proposed as a fixed fee.
- Cael LPM, as a convenient location for matter progress information, has been extended by the inclusion of metrics like WIP, Billed+WIP, and percentages of Actuals against Budget and Estimates, on main panels. A number of minor formatting changes to numbers, like rounding and consistent use of decimal places, have also be incorporated.
- Normalization of date and time stamp information on screens and reports in the user’s time zone across Cael LPM is in progress. Dates and times for Notes and Discussions posts have been converted, and this is being expanded throughout Cael LPM to also include dates and times within Emails, and on Matter Version stamps.
- Additional columns have been added to the Matter List, and now includes Actuals, Budgets, Estimates, and % of Actuals to Budget. This enables users to see matter progress information at a glance without having to open the matter, or run a report.
- The narratives of Reports, and their order on a client’s system screen, can now be configured. Client Admins can now include specific advice and instructions to their users on which reports are best for their needs, in the client’s own words.
- Individual Participants, and their Project Managers, can now be alerted when their Actual fees exceed their allocated Estimates within a Task by a nominated percentage. This enables individuals to begin discussions on adjusting scope, or spreading work, to meet the estimate.
- Improvements have been made to tools to remap timecards, from Unassigned Time to Phases and Tasks, and between Phases and Tasks. Matter Managers can also now speed the development of matter plans for existing live matters with the ability to manually initiate the automatic mapping of timecards to their respective Phases and Tasks, rather than having to wait overnight for the process to be completed.
- A range of new reports, or updates to existing reports, was developed for clients throughout the year, though this support will be wound back as 2017 progresses. We ask clients to start importing data from Cael LPM directly into their own reporting systems (using the API tools), to produce reports in exactly the format and content required, with a turnaround time Elevate cannot presently match.
- A top-level switch has been introduced so that Matter Managers can switch off notifications from Cael LPM matter plans if a Participant’s involvement in a matter was incidental and there is no further role to play in the matter. This will cut back on the email traffic that a user sees, and only engages users still active with the matter.
- Long running matters, with timecards extending back years, can be added to Cael LPM for management of their later stages by the introduction of a filter, by which only timecards from a nominated date forward will be brought into the matter plan, without requiring a plan to be built to cover matter stages which have long since been completed, billed, and closed.
- Linking to a client firm’s internal intranet directly from within Cael LPM has been supported by the addition of a link location on the top-right of the screen. This feature enables users to work from one location.
- Warning messages have progressively been included in Cael LPM to assist Matter Managers as they build matter plans, such as warning when changing a Rate Type will override some manually set rates, when changing a matter Client will change Client Rates, and asking whether security settings applied on a Secured Matter should be carried over to a clone of the matter.
- Finally, the team has been undertaking numerous improvements to system performance, focusing on optimizing the design and retrieval speeds of the Cael LPM database.
We have also been working on some important enhancements slated for release in early 2017, including:
- The first release of a Matter Planning Wizard, to guide users through the process of building a base matter plan and obtaining a high-level estimate of fees and profitability before fleshing out remaining matter details. This will be released to clients, in Beta form, in mid-January 2017, and is the first of a program of improvements to speed the development of matter plans.
- The Wizard release is also the first vehicle for deploying the New Matter Plan UI, which will eventually replace the current Cael LPM matter plan user interface. The new design makes use of wider screen sizes, clearer colors and fonts, better information spacing, Summary and Detailed views, fewer functions hidden under menu options, and easier entry of matter plan data.
For 2017 we will continue to enhance Cael LPM with intuitive, easy-to-use features for lawyers to plan and manage matters. We are already developing stronger collaboration and discussion tools that enable in-house and outside counsel teams to work together more easily. The objective is to reduce the amount of email traffic taking place outside the matter, and recording information directly in the matter plan itself. Also in the works is a change in the design of Cael LPM matter plans to enable estimating and budgeting at Task level, and thereafter manage the matter at Phase level. This model reflects the way clients prefer to initially plan and then subsequently run/monitor larger matters.
Progressively over the year, as the scope of these projects becomes clearer, we will embark on creating Dashboards and Homepage improvements, to display matter and workload information relevant to each user type. We will also redesign the Rules, Alerts, Events and Notifications feature, to report across a range of matter performance, at levels preferred by clients.
Beyond that, features like supporting multiple chargeout rates for each participant (to enable time-increasing rates for long term matters, and specific discounts at Phase and Task level), and additional APIs for closer integration with a firm’s other business systems, are also planned.
In partnership with our users, the Elevate team is committed to making Cael LPM the most helpful tool of its kind for law departments and law firms working as one legal team.
We thank our clients for their continued support, feedback and partnership as we continue to push the innovation curve, learning every day and juggling numerous requests to improve our product.
Arnold Mitt (Cael LPM Product Manager) and the Cael LPM Team
“In partnership with our users, the Elevate team is committed to making Cael LPM the most helpful tool of its kind for law departments and law firms working as one legal team.”