Business Development in Practice Management or CRM?

If you are a smaller firm, we believe there is a distinct advantage of having business development features included in your practice management system. While you are running a small practice, there is frequently more than you can easily get done in a typical workday.

Finding the work, doing the work and managing the practice, including the team members as well as administrative tasks, can be challenging. The same problem exists in larger practices, but at a larger scale. Some practice management systems, such as STAR Practice Management, APS Practice Management, or Templeton PracticePro 365, have business development features included.

Some large firms, such as Eide Bailey, for example have used NetSuite and Salesforce CRM as tools to transform their practices. On the other hand, some firms have tried to manage business development and client interactions inside practice management systems that are too restrictive to complete all the needed tasks effectively.

Consider that business development software should handle these items:

  • Tracks all contact information including business name, email, phone numbers, web sites and referring relationships
  • Assists in managing calls, appointments, meetings, tasks
  • Provides a place for documentation on all client interactions from all channels including email, text, and phone
  • Manages security so that all team members can see what they have the right to see and not have visibility into confidential information – this feature is more critical in a family office or high-net-wealth practice where information should only be available on a “need to know” basis
  • Manages email and social marketing campaigns
  • Integrates with your website
  • Integrates with your phone or Voice over IP (VOIP) system including SMS (text) messages
  • Integrates with your operational systems, which could include time and billing or another invoicing system as well as accounting
  • Assists in delivering proposals, engagements and marketing materials
  • Integrates with your workflow, document management, portal and other operational systems
  • Captures lead sources from multiple sources including your website, face to face events such as personal interactions, community events, as well as the marketing events and activities of your firm

While this list is not complete, it provides guidance on features to consider in any business development system for your firm. Consider that some practice management products include business development features.

They become an integrated part of the system, and the culture of business development is included throughout the product. The following diagram represents this:


Your decision revolves around several issues:

  • How proactive is your firm in business development?
  • Do you want fewer systems to manage?
  • How much volume does your firm handle in suspects and prospects?
  • Do you have a well-defined target market?
  • Do you want the system simple enough that partners and rainmakers can use it?
  • Will you have much clerical or marketing support?
  • How much marketing automation does your firm need?

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