If a law department does not have a matter management system for tracking external spending, it may have to rely on the company’s accounting system – or systems (See my post of Sept. 14, 2005 about the attorney-client privilege and transfers of invoice information to accounts payable.). The vexations start when there are more than one accounting package that tracks legal spending by different business units. Companies can proliferate SAP-type systems when they acquire other companies and keep the legacy software (See my post of Sept. 10, 2005 on myths of matter management systems, #9.).
One company I worked with had at least seven different sources of information about payments to law firms. If law departments in companies hobbled like that have to pull together total spending figures, they pull their hair out while they pull the numbers out. Law firms have different vendor numbers, the accounting coding schemes vary, personnel have different levels of carefulness and completeness – in the end, directional correctness is the best you can achieve.