It might sound counter-intuitive because competition and using multiple vendors drives down prices for customers, right? Think again.

We didn’t invent the supply chain, but we’d like to settle an important question about it: For eFiling services are you better off using a single, preferred vendor or multiple vendors?

The question is as old as supply chains themselves and the answer may be a simple one in many industries, but in the world of law firms the choice is more complicated. Law firms stand apart from other industries because of the complexities that permeate legal processes. Likewise, those intricacies transfer to the eFiling “supply chain”.

Selecting a good eFiling service provider is a critical decision for law firms. A poor-performing vendor can rob a firm of precious time and money as well as damage its reputation.

 

79%

­Percentage of organizations that achieve significantly above-average revenue growth because of superior supply chain capabilities.

 

Good vendors are good for growth.

To help guide you toward the right choice we’ve created a short list of advantages for the two models you’ll want to compare. First is the single, preferred vendor model, in which a firm selects one vendor from among many that provide similar services. Second is the multiple vendor model, in which a firm selects two or more vendors that provide similar services. As you learn about these models, consider how each one complements your firm’s business goals.

 

Single, Preferred Vendor Advantages

Pricing Discounts

Strategic buyers spend to win, and they know that getting discounted prices on eFiling services helps achieve success. When a law firm spreads its dollars among multiple vendors, it can make volume-based discounts difficult to earn. In contrast, directing that spend to a single, preferred vendor substantially increases your firm’s value and makes it more likely that vendor will offer you a volume discount.

From a strategic standpoint, amplifying spend not only places you in a stronger position to ask for volume discounts, but it also makes it more likely you’ll receive additional perks such as hands-on, personalized customer care, or first access to new technologies.

But why restrict pricing discounts to eFiling? A normal business day for your firm probably includes process service, document retrieval, courtesy copy delivery, county recording, and more. Finding and using a single, preferred vendor who excels across the board in litigation support enables you to manage many services easily from one account.

And, more importantly, because of the volume of your work is spread among several different services, you expand the number of services on which you may receive pricing discounts.

More Time for Billable Tasks

Billable hours are the lifeblood of any law firm and every minute that staff members spend on overhead tasks drives up the cost of doing business. Over time, a law firm may lose significant amounts of billable hours to activities associated with the multiple vendor model. Those activities include time spent managing vendors, inefficient communication, system incompatibilities that hinder integration, and monitoring the quality of work from several sources.

There are also short-term and startup activities that cut into billable hours such as conducting vendor interviews, soliciting bids, and learning a new vendor’s systems. Using a single, preferred vendor model dramatically reduces billable hours lost to these activities.

Another important advantage to working with a single vendor is that litigation support staff train only once on a vendor’s system and can repeat those tasks many times. This makes each staff member more efficient, and thus, productive over the long run improving the firm’s return on investment.

Many firms may also find it difficult to reconcile billing with multiple vendors, which will drain billable time from staff, in addition to time lost to managing the operational details of each vendor relationship.

Visualize Better Performance through Partnership

Selecting a single, preferred vendor means both the firm and the vendor commit for the long term – participating in a true partnership. That commitment provides an incentive for the vendor to optimize every aspect of the customer’s experience, from the online portal interface to customer support and billing. And, when you choose to work with a vendor who sees you as a true partner, you unlock the potential for system-to-system integrations that will save you even more time and money.

How much more? The answer depends on your needs and creativity, but here is an example: You make reconciling invoices and expenses for fee motions so efficient that it saves the cost of one full-time employee.

How is that possible? One way is to pull data directly from your single, preferred vendor’s litigation support services platform directly to your own law firm’s system. If you’re using a multiple vendor model chances are slim those types of synergies will be offered to you.

eFiling is just one point on the compass where the benefits of a single, preferred vendor partnership begin. Firms can use this relationship to automate workflows, automate cost control and visibility, eliminate data duplication of entry, and improve many different business outcomes.

The net result for your firm is a consistent level of service, quality, and favorable costs that set up your own clients for a high level of satisfaction. If you have a vision for improved performance across the board, this model can help make it real.

 

Benefits of Using Multiple Vendors

There is a lot to like about partnering with a single, highly efficient vendor, but there are also distinct advantages to working with multiple vendors. Here are three that deserve a close look.

Safety Net for Your Work

Service disruptions lurk in the shadows of every industry and tend to appear when you least expect them. Natural disasters, power outages, and ransomware attacks are just a few examples of events that can at least temporarily bring your eFiling vendor’s productivity to a screeching halt.

Using multiple vendors for eFiling can minimize the risk of service disruptions by enabling a law firm to transfer its work from one vendor to another. This can be helpful not only as a response to a hurricane or ransomware attack but in the more likely event that a vendor’s service, quality, or performance falters and threatens your eFiling supply chain.

While having multiple vendors spreads out the risk of service disruption, it’s important to ask yourself which is more probable: a disruption caused by a force of nature, technology breakdowns, or a business closing shop? If you have a single eFiling vendor whose services are web-enabled and operate in the cloud, chances are your eFiling will continue uninterrupted regardless of the weather or server-side attacks.

Get a Better Bargain

Pitting rivals against each other is a time-tested business strategy that has survived simply because it works. When several vendors know they are competing for your firm’s business, each one must offer a compelling reason for you to choose its brand. Many times, that reason is price, and a vendor that offers a favorable price likewise offers you a tool you can use to drive a competitor’s price lower.

In the long run, however, this strategy may backfire if a vendor that delivers jaw-dropping low prices in the beginning becomes complacent and allows those prices to rise—or allows its quality to slip. It’s important to monitor price-driven deals over time to make sure the quality and value of service remain consistent.

Give Yourself Room to Move

In the same way that multiple freeway lanes help smooth the flow of traffic, stacking your supply chain with multiple vendors safeguards against bottlenecks. Protecting against jammed workflows is especially important for eFiling but it is also vital for litigation support services that may require human intervention, such as expert document review, process serving, or skip tracing.

For these types of tasks, the multiple vendor model provides a built-in safety valve that allows firms to simply shift work from the underperforming vendor to an alternate vendor. This is done without jeopardizing capacity, and the transition is undetectable to the law firm’s clients. Such a move may, however, may force you to use eFiling providers that are difficult for you to manage or do not offer data you can use to benchmark their services.

 

Best of Both Worlds

Firms that like the flexibility of multiple vendors but also want the reduced administrative costs and potential volume price incentives of a single vendor may find a middle ground by using a single, preferred vendor that excels in several areas. This “best of both worlds” scenario may be attainable from a single provider that has an established history you can confirm independently.

So, how do you make those confirmations? It’s simple; just ask the vendor and its current clients about the following:

  • How many courts does the vendor eFile with directly?
  • Can you place multiple order types though a common workflow?
  • Does the vendor have a high eFiling court acceptance rate?
  • What is the vendor’s accuracy of service?
  • Does the vendor have world-class hosting capability that offers scale, performance, security, and compliance?

If you need even greater assurance that a single eFiling vendor can provide the reliability you need, look for one that offers a satisfaction guarantee. A vendor confident enough to say, “If service is not done right, it’s free,” is a vendor that takes client satisfaction seriously.

 

First Time eFiling? Download This Guide

The transition from traditional paper filing to electronic filing is easier than you think. Download our eFiling Beginner’s Guide to learn:

  • How eFiling Works
  • How to Prepare for eFiling
  • How to meet court eFiling requirements

It is recommended for eFiling beginners as well as those with experience.

 

Your Choice in a Nutshell

At the end of the day, the best way to understand which vendor is right for you is to clearly understand your own firm’s needs. Then, determine which vendor can fulfill those needs at a sensible and sustainable price. Once you make your choice, monitor the relationship to make sure the vendor delivers as promised.

To help you prepare for your vendor interviews be sure to read 6 Things to Look For In An Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP) for insightful questions you can ask about service performance, domain experience, software capability, and more. If process serving will also be a consideration in your vendor search you’ll find a battery of helpful tips to guide your interview questions in What to Look for When Hiring a Process Serving Company.

The best vendor model to choose will almost always be the one that aligns with your firm’s business strategy. Regardless of which model you choose, 21st century law firms that select an eFiling vendor with whom they can leverage innovation and common goals is the one with whom they most likely will experience a win-win.

 

You’ve Just Scratched the Surface
Our sales team can help find even more ways to transform your court eFiling into a strategic asset for your firm. Book a demo or schedule a call with a Rapid Legal team member to learn how the full scope of Rapid Legal’s portal capabilities can work for you.