Fieldfisher is a law firm focusing on four key sectors: technology, financial services, energy & natural resources, and life sciences. Founded in 1835 as Field Roscoe and Co., it has more than 1,500 employees across 25 international offices, including one in every major European hub as well as offices in the US and China. The firm has been named as one of The Times Best Law Firms for three consecutive years (most recently in 2020) and has featured as one of the Financial Times' most innovative law firms on a number of occasions. Around 900 of its employees work across its four UK offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Belfast.
Fieldfisher had to adapt quickly to changing working practices during the 2020 pandemic. The IT team found itself having to support all of the firm's workers as they moved to work from home.
With an eye on the growing problem, the company made preparations in mid-March, a week before the UK government announced the lockdown. Probrand, which has been a preferred supplier to Fieldfisher since 2015, shipped 150 monitors to employees at home.
As it became evident that staff would need to work from home for some time, the firm began getting requests for more equipment from employees. "Once we knew that lockdown would last several months, it was clear that to maintain productivity our employees needed some extra assistance and IT equipment to support their home setup," explains IT director Mabel Harvey.
Pre-pandemic, Fieldfisher was a regular user of Probrand's innovative IT procurement platform, but this was geared for delivering hardware to its offices. "As lockdown continued, we realised that people would have varied requirements, so giving them the opportunity to select their own equipment was important and a strategy we wanted to support," explains Josephine Dodd, who handles procurement at Fieldfisher.
When Fieldfisher explained its challenge on April 2, Probrand configured its marketplace platform to deliver a personalised experience exclusive to Fieldfisher employees to support a delegated procurement strategy. This meant remote workers could pick and buy products they needed delivered to their home addresses. Employees benefitted from price comparison across multiple suppliers plus real-time price and stock visibility – which was critical during the pandemic.
The marketplace enabled the procurement team to set employee spend limits and curate a bespoke catalogue that only Fieldfisher employees could access, including monitors, chairs, and keyboards.
The project took just five days to complete, with the dedicated user experience going live on 7 April. After testing it that day with IT employees, Fieldfisher began ramping up user adoption, onboarding 500 employees in a week.
Creating the catalogue was just one part of the challenge; the other was sourcing the equipment. "Around the country, printers were just flying off the shelves and ink was going in and out of stock, the volatility of supply and demand was incredible" Dodd recalls. “Our Probrand account manager continually monitored products in stock and sourced out-of-stock items for Fieldfisher using the company’s buying power and supply chain contacts. All suppliers around the country were in the same boat," she recalls. "He worked tirelessly to ensure that whatever was in stock made it out to our employees."
Employee welfare in a pandemic
"Soon after lockdown began we had a number of employees telling us they were finding it uncomfortable to work," Dodd recalls. “Many were sitting on dining room chairs and getting backache. The implications of being able to respond were far reaching", says Dodd.
“The flexibility of the platform meant we could quickly move to support employee welfare with appropriate IT kit amidst the pandemic. We added further options for chairs and monitors for home use, which made such a difference to so many, as did Probrand’s supply chain work to get orders delivered next day at time of logistical constraint.”
Dodd continues, “The project saved the IT team time previously spent placing orders for employees. That meant the team could focus on assisting employees remotely and managing the network and applications."
“On average, 500 employees ordered between four and six items each themselves, which would normally take the IT team around 15 minutes of work per employee. So, we saved around 16 days (125 hours).”
“Being able to quickly curate an approved catalogue and enable delegated procurement at an employee level right across the business was a game-changer, saving procurement time amidst a naturally chaotic period."
“It also ensured employees stayed within policy and did not undertake rogue purchases via unapproved non-compliant channels or websites, which might have presented issues for both IT and procurement teams.”
Saving money – cost avoidance
“Management reporting enabled us to monitor spends and usage acutely, and more importantly, we were able to achieve cost avoidance with real-time price and stock plus price comparison across suppliers showing we were getting a fair market rate and value amidst a volatile market.”
The month-long project has seen such success that the business has continued to use it frequently and are looking at how they can utilise it for equipment orders going forward into the new normal.