Friday, February 12, 2010

The Power of UTBMS (Uniform Task Based Billing Codes)

In Response to the Rees Morrison's blog entry ("Drawbacks of Uniform Task Based Billing Codes for fees as used by legal departments") Bill Sowinski, the head of Decision Support Services for CT TyMetrix notes:

"While [Mr. Morrison] makes some good points about the challenges regarding UTBMS codes, I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. The codes are a powerful tool for analyzing patterns and comparing performance. Over the years I’ve had the benefit of working with a number of clients who have captured their firm’s activity at the UTBMS code level. Through this detail, together with clients, we’ve been able to conduct analysis and generate reports that routinely result in a collective “WOW!”

UTBMS information is, of course, useful to compare how law firms deploy their resources for work on similar phases of like matters (e.g. percent of partner, associate, paralegal time and fees) but also reveals the average and median rates, both blended and by individual as well as by level of resource for that legal work. Examining activity at this level across firms invariably results in the revelation of diverse practices with the best and worst practices being immediately apparent. When addressing such issues with firms, the client has the data and the data is based upon that firm’s actual invoice entries. (We counsel our clients to identify precise billing entries for precise timekeepers and share it with law firms.)

The information is also useful for examining billing on diverse matters as the UTBMS information can be used to compare the performance of multiple firms working on the same matter as well as compare individuals within the same firm working on the same matter.

We provide three UTBMS standard reports to all of our clients. Those reports can analyze information across a year’s worth of data for one or one hundred firms in seconds. Those reports can analyze rates, resource level use and individual lawyer tendencies at the click of a mouse. Today’s Business Intelligence applications are making this information widely available and we strongly suggest the information be strategically used not just by legal departments, but by law firms as well.

It is true that the more careful firms are in coding their time the better the analyses, but our clients routinely stress the importance of coding properly and address any coding issues with the law firms. We’ve not experienced significant coding problems and we have tens of thousands of firms that submit invoices through CT TyMetrix. If you are interested, I would be more than happy to show you the reports and analysis available through the use of UTBMS."

1 comment:

  1. I think that we can all agree that the UTBMS codes are imperfect. That is a bit like saying democracy is an imperfect institution. To quote Winston Churchill, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." I'm suspicious of the theoretically perfect being held out as the replacement for the current best option. I don't see an alternative offered here. Is the solution to take unstructured time and billing data and hire a consultant with years of experience reviewing such data to cull through and divine useful comparisions? Apparently a subcription to "General Counsel Metrics" subscription would solve all comparison problems.