Stephensons invests £2m in management package

James Boxell reports

Stephenson Harwood is ploughing £2m into the purchase of a firm-wide practice management system.

It will spend half of the money replacing its existing front and back office computer systems with a single package, the Keystone Practice Management System, the rest will be spent on other hardware and on training.

The new system, which will also cover Stephenson Harwood's international offices, will bring together all elements of the company's business.

Stephenson Harwood's IT director Andrew Withers claimed that the new integrated package, provided by Keystone Solutions UK, would enable simple tracking of all the firm's business from beginning to end.

"This new approach will greatly improve the existing situation where the accounting system and bits of front end are separate," he said.

"With the new system, fee-earners will be able to directly access information about on-going matters at their desk, while accounts will benefit from automatic billing."

Withers said he expected the Keystone package to be fully implemented in the third quarter of 1998.

Stephensons' chief executive John Pike said the new system "will radically improve both our administrative and client-handling capabilities as we move into the 21st Century, and help support our considerable expansion plans."

Partners at the firm chose the management system after evaluating competing products on offer from Resolution and Elite and deciding that Keystone was the most flexible.

Both Ashurst Morris Crisp and DJ Freeman have spent around £1m each on the Keystone package in the past year.

DJ Freeman finance director Vince Potter said the firm believed it was the best way of bringing its accounting and practice management systems together. He added that DJ Freeman was only at the first stage of installing the system, but that so far it had proved to be "better than anticipated".