The P4W User Group: Driving communication and collaboration
The P4W User Group is made up of legal professionals who are interested in using Tikit’s P4W practice and case management system to its full potential in their firms. The group enhances communication between Tikit and the P4W users as well as providing users with the opportunity to collaborate with other firms. Jane Pritchard, P4W User Group Chair and Partner/Head of Housing, Community Care, Business Development at TV Edwards, describes her vision for the user group in 2017.
Why did you put yourself forward to be the chair of the P4W User Group? Why do you feel the user group offers the perfect platform for better communication and collaboration amongst P4W Users?
The user group was already very successful before I joined, but I could see opportunities as to where we could go with it and make it more accessible at a grassroots level. I also felt I could contribute to opening up lines of communication and making the user group more dynamic. You don’t have to be a technological whizz to be part of the P4W User Group. I am not from an IT background. Although I chair the user group and am involved in lots of IT project work, I am a lawyer and a partner. The user group committee comprises of four people, two of whom are lawyers and two IT specialists – one is a software developer and the other is focused on operational IT. I have used many different legal software packages. I have found that the success you have with developing software for your practice is down to how well you liaise with developers. This can be hit and miss on an individual basis, whereas with the P4W User Group, there is strength in the number of users and the platform that they have to facilitate collaboration.
This year’s theme for the Regional and National User Groups is communication. Why do you think communication is so important when it comes to product development?
Our regional and national events focus on the roadmap for development, which is highlighted by the development team. The events spark debate on how that roadmap should progress in future and also on recent developments to date. They are not just about communicating with the P4W developers; it is also about communication between the users, looking together at how we can best use the software. The communication with the development team at Tikit is essential, but also the communication between the users about how we would look at using the software helps to lead the development in the right direction and influence software development change. Law firms have partnered up with organisations with a similar profile, for example similar sized firms or those with a similar type of client base. Through the user group, I have discovered firms who were previously not on my radar, who are not in my city but who face the same obstacles with specific parts of the software and we started to work together. Members of the user group also get to beta test proposed changes before they are rolled out nationally and impact all the users.
What does the user group do to keep a good stream of communication going between fellow users and Tikit?
Outside of the main national meetings, we also hold ‘extra-curricular’ meetings, where we meet up on a more informal basis. We hold these meetings without Tikit being present and set our own agenda and look at items on which we would like to see further development. Very often, collaborative project work has arisen from these meetings. I encourage members at these meetings to look at the profile of other firms, and the kind of work they are doing, to effect partnerships. These informal partnerships can then be a useful source of support outside the meetings. People can raise queries within our specialist LinkedIn group on their own projects or on the latest developments with the product. We also hold webinars and influence the choice of topics of the webinars that Tikit runs. These webinars can take the form of virtual meetings, where user group members can collaborate easily without having to attend meetings in person. We have even found, for example, that lawyers waiting around at court can attend these web meetings. When people join the user group, we set up a meeting with that new user so that we can start immediately identifying how we can help them and who they might best work with. We also set up site references. So, if people contact us and they are struggling with a certain issue we can put them in touch with a firm that has already implemented the software and they can go in and see the software working in a live environment. We also have a very good line of communication with the Tikit development team, so we can contact them on behalf of the user if that helps.
How does being a part of the P4W User Group help your firm and fellow member firms become more efficient and more profitable?
The key to this is collaboration. We collaborate on project work at both macro and micro level. At the macro-level this enables us to make cost savings by sharing information on both projects that have been successful and those that have hit a dead-end, so that lessons may be learned and users can make smart decisions about how to go ahead with their projects. The ethos of collaboration is vital – while we are competitors, within the user group we are colleagues and peers. We want the best for firms that are using the software and we don’t let the fact that we are competitors get in the way of sharing information and helping each other out. We also look more widely at business systems and processes, as these are a key part of the success or otherwise of a Tikit software implementation. On a micro-level, the user group has set up a project group made up of 16 different firms that is working with the Tikit on a new and exciting development of the P4W software, FormShare, which will help us to communicate better with our clients. Outside of this group, that kind of collaboration is quite rare in the SME sector, but everyone benefits from it.
What do you feel are the main points firms attending this year’s user groups should be taking back and communicating to their firms?
There are a number of themes around communication that firms should be discussing. How well do we communicate with our client markets through our website and social media? Are our communications with our clients and third parties sufficiently secure? How can we optimise our client communications and at the same time save money and boost productivity? Are we testing our communications strategy in practical terms to ensure that it is being applied consistently to all clients by all teams in all practice areas? Are we maximising our use of the support network that the user group provides?
The user group plays a key role in the development of P4W. How would you like user group members to get involved in the coming year and help move P4W forward?
Firms should start by looking at how the user group can help them. It is worth spending time looking for other members who are similar in profile and setting up communication channels to support each other throughout the year. I would like to see members contribute to the LinkedIn group, not only by asking questions but also by sharing ideas. It would be great if members would respond to the surveys we send out, so that we can better meet their needs. Keep in touch with the user group and let us know which enhancement requests are your priority so that we can pass that on to Tikit.
For more information about the user group or to contact Jane or another member of the committee, click here.
The next National User Group Conference #NUG17 is on 16th –17th November 2017. To book your place, or to receive more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.