The primary point of a database should be to allow managers in a law department to see the department’s work more clearly and to manage it more effectively – to take better decisions – based on the data (See my post of Sept. 10, 2005: myths of matter management systems.). If all a database does is collect data and report it, to be sure some purposes are served, but the most effective use of that database remains untapped.
Hence, for example, a matter management system provides some payback if it allows a general counsel to collect spending information more easily and compile reports on that spend. The more valuable level, analysis, can reveal concentration of spending, which might suggest opportunities to obtain discounts from the firms paid the most or possible firms to cease using; imbalanced workloads, which might suggest remedial training, different hiring patterns, or different decisions about how work is assigned; and the efficacy of different billing and bill review techniques.
Consolidation of data helps, effective reports help more, but most helpful are analyses of data and appropriate action.