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How to choose an IPMS

By Sam Nicholson

Choosing an IPMS is a huge decision for a firm. It can be a big investment, and it can be difficult to know whether the chosen software will fulfil all your requirements. Additionally, adopting an IPMS could mean entrusting sensitive data to an external organisation, and ensuring this is done securely is paramount.

So, how does a firm pick which IP management system is right for them? With words first published in the Patent Lawyer Magazine, here are a range of key features to look for when seeking out a new intellectual property management system for your firm.

Equinox Claire and Callie

Getting started and seeking support

It can be daunting to adopt a new system. Your firm has spent years refining its processes into a well-oiled machine and introducing unknown software risks new complexity and issues. The best software providers will guide you through the onboarding process with minimum hassle and choosing a supplier that makes adoption as simple as possible will go a long way when you’re getting started.

An IPMS supplier should be responsive to your needs and take care to cater to your firm’s specific requirements. When you meet with the provider, consider how well they’ve accounted for your needs and the extent to which they can tailor the system to fit your processes. The best suppliers will explain how their software can adapt to how you already operate and perhaps more importantly how it can enhance your practices. Don’t settle for a one size fits all approach.

When the time comes to onboard your firm onto your chosen system, the software provider should make the process as clear and easy to follow as possible. This includes training; you should expect comprehensive instruction on the system before you go live so that you and your team feel confident in how to get the most from the software from day one.

The friendly Onboarding team at Equinox support you through the whole process from your first demo of the system through to data migrations and training, and the support doesn’t stop there. You can also contact our Client Services team for fast,  approachable support whenever you need it.

An IPMS supplier should be responsive to your needs and take care to cater to your firm’s specific requirements

 

Well maintained system

Some software companies go years without releasing an update, leaving their users with a system that is slow and not up to scratch. Updates iron out bugs and keep your software running smoothly. Without them, you will have issues.

When exploring the range of IPMS solutions on the market, ask how often their service is updated and determine the quality of their development teams. A good development team will keep users on the latest version of their software as promptly as possible and clearly communicate how these changes will benefit your firm.

The Equinox development team releases a small update around every two weeks, so you can be confident you’re always on the latest version of Equinox IPMS. Well updated software is more secure and works better, so don’t settle for less!

Data security

Security is a priority. When your firm stores any data within an IPMS, it should feel 100% confident that everything in that system is protected. Whether that data is stored with the software provider or on your firm’s own server, it should be safe with maximum visibility for the user.

Any good IPMS will have a thorough data security system in place. Consider how the provider will store your data and assess the level of support specifically driven towards data management and security. Availability is incredibly important, so ask about uptime too. You don’t want to find that you can’t access your data at a sensitive moment.

For example, at Equinox we have a dedicated Data Services team that takes responsibility for the transfer and management of subscriber data and a meticulous Operations team who ensure the best software security measures are in place. Having teams with specific expertise allows the appropriate level of attention towards ensuring your system and data is kept secure and available when you need it.

Strong support team

If you find yourself needing help using the system or troubleshooting an issue you are having, your firm needs to be confident that it can get effective, prompt support. The legal industry is very time-sensitive so requires quick action, and if there’s an issue at an inopportune moment, its users should be confident that it can be resolved quickly to keep their cases on track.

Take care to consider the quality of an IPMS provider’s support team. Is support available when you might need it? How quickly can they respond to your queries? The strongest software companies have a dedicated help desk that can respond to you and help with your issue as fast as possible.

Our Client Services team is filled with experts in all things Equinox. They’ll handle your issue quickly and work with our wider team to get your problems sorted as soon as they can.

Strong development that grows with you

Responsive intellectual property law updates

The global intellectual property landscape is ever-changing, and an IPMS needs to keep on top of these developments to ensure it can support its subscribers and their clients through legislative updates.

An IPMS relies on pre-sets, which are sometimes known as law files. These are pre-prepared processes for a jurisdiction that align with a firm’s cases and processes to provide prompts and automation where necessary to maximise efficient operation. These pre-sets need to be regularly reviewed and updated in line with legislative developments to ensure that cases are handled properly within the system.

A stronger IPMS supplier will monitor legislative developments and issue updates to users as soon as possible. This demonstrates that their system is being maintained regularly and offers users a vital global law resource.

Equinox operates a devoted IP Services team that keeps its finger on the pulse of international intellectual property law. When a country changes its rules, our subscribers have their pre-sets updated when they come into effect so they can keep their cases in line with the law. This service is supported by weekly news updates that ensure subscribers are kept aware of incoming changes.

Innovative development

A forward-thinking development team will anticipate its users’ needs ahead of time. When new laws or practices come into action, your software should have anticipated this change and been pre-emptively updated to account for change and avoid delays.

With the long-awaited Unitary Patent system anticipated to come into effect soon, Equinox has already implemented development to be ready in advance of the legislation coming into effect. When the time comes, subscribers will be able to hit the ground running without any delay.

When choosing your IPMS, consider how they react to changes in the industry. Will the provider anticipate your needs? Look for strong development experience and an innovative approach to ensure confidence in the longevity of your software.

Scalability

When your firm grows and takes on more clients, your IPMS should scale with you. Some software providers limit the number of users or clients a subscriber can maintain on the system, resulting in additional costs when the business grows. As a result, firms should take care to choose a supplier that scales with rather than against their growth; an IPMS should be willing and capable to help a firm grow.

Equinox IPMS is designed to be scalable: when your firm grows, our IPMS not only keeps up with you but actually helps you continue that growth. Many of our subscribers have seen a seamless transition as they take on new employees and win new clients, as Equinox has offered intelligent optimisation opportunities that support their expansion. It’s fantastic to watch firms grow with Equinox IPMS!

Adaptability and accessibility

Strong configuration options

No two IP firms are the same. One firm will operate differently from the next, with variations as granular as the terminology used in their processes and as broad as how they communicate with clients. Your firm is unlike any other, so why settle for a universal approach? When adopting an IPMS, choose one that fits into and enhances your existing processes rather than forcing your team to adapt.

Equinox IPMS is designed to enhance the processes you already use. When new subscribers come to Equinox, we take time to consider how they already operate and explore how we can configure Equinox IPMS to enhance their processes. This is done by helping select and upload pre-sets from our extensive catalogue and can extend to details as small as changing the terminology used in the system interface. Your IPMS should make as many changes as possible to fit in with and enhance your practices.

Integrating with other services

IP professionals often rely on a range of services to do their job. Be it Microsoft Office or financial services that track payments, an IPMS should integrate seamlessly to make handling a case as simple as possible. Increasingly, software across a range of industries is adapting to a more integrated approach that allows software services to work together, and your IPMS should be no different.

Adopting an IPMS that offers integrations with other useful services is the best way to streamline internal processes. Firms should aim to establish a connected network of the services they rely on. Consider whether your chosen IPMS can integrate with your billing software to make tracking the full process of your cases as straightforward as is feasible.

Forward-thinking IPMS providers are always looking to extend integrations further. At Equinox, we listen to our subscribers to discover what other complimentary services they use and work to make them integrate into our IPMS for a seamless user experience. Recently, we’ve integrated with Billtrader to help our mutual subscribers’ international payment processes, and there’s more on the way.

Accessibility and availability

An IPMS should be easy to use and available from anywhere. A web-based system is the best option as it can be accessed from a variety of devices and does not require a time-consuming software download. This helps your team access the system more quickly and stay responsive when needed. It’s much simpler for home working too, as you don’t need to worry about remote desktops or chunky software downloads.

The interface of the software should be easy to understand and clear to follow. A modern, clear, crisp design for your software may not seem like a major priority compared to other factors, but when you and your colleagues will be using the IPMS daily, ensuring the software is simple to operate is a must.

Choose a provider that gives you confidence in its service from day one

 

Key things to remember when choosing an IPMS

It’s better to adopt an IPMS that can be configured and shaped to fit the way you work. Your firm has spent years honing its practices and your method and approach are why your clients trust you. Your IPMS should enhance how you work and not force your team into a one size fits all system.

When you grow, the IPMS you choose should grow with you. Consider the longevity of your time with the software, if you take on new staff or clients, you should be confident that the software you rely on is ready and willing to support and accelerate your success.

Your IPMS should have its finger on the pulse of the industry and anticipate your needs. You should be confident that your software is kept in line with every jurisdiction you operate in with regular updates to the system and its pre-sets. With legal technology developing to be increasingly integrated, your IPMS needs to follow this trajectory and include as many integrations as possible with other services you use.

Overall, the best way to choose an IPMS is to consider the quality of your experience with the software from your first exposure to the system right through to when you need support. Choose a provider that gives you confidence in its service from day one.

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