Scaling Your Legal Processes – 5 Ways to Get Started.
Scaling legal processes has been top priority for legal teams across various legal surveys over recent years because everyone knows that they can achieve better efficiency, and therefore lower cost by having better processes. Measurable data output delivered through robust management information (for example via dashboards) and scalable processes through automated processes have been the holy grail for achieving growth for any business. But scaling is hard, for companies with legacy and institutionalised processes, as well as younger entrepreneurial growth companies. In this article, we look at where to start in our ‘5 Ways to Scale Your Legal Processes’ using a Diagnostic, Optimisation and Implementation framework.
5 Ways to Scale Your Legal Processes – where to start?
- Observation, conversation and persistence – start with your Diagnostic, gathering as much information as you can. Begin with collating all data and data points such as policies, operating practices and necessary information. Have conversations with key stakeholders – internal and external, business, and legal - so that you can get a gauge of current systems and processes which may be written or unwritten. Observe how things are done in the department and be persistent in your information gathering. Map out key and priority processes, end to end. Mapping out internal procedures and documenting workflows allows you to get a high-level overview of the current state, and you can stress test these in your conversations. Form a broad helicopter view of current state of play and frame your Diagnostic This should be your starting point.
- What do your customers want? – finding the right place to start can seem like a bit of a minefield. But starting with your customers – whether that be your internal business stakeholders, your wider legal team, or your external customers. Take a customer-centric view in determining what is important. Using the ‘boulders, rocks and pebbles’ metaphor can help with prioritisation and set your Optimisation Stop developing products or processes you believe you and your customers need, and instead give them what they want. Start with your customers biggest and priority pain points – your ‘boulders’. Assess the what, where, why, who, when and how and then assess what value and return on investment a change or transformation can bring. You may also want to identify the low-hanging fruit or your ‘pebbles’, that can provide some immediate quick-wins and a lasting impact to customers. This will assist you in gaining trust and credibility as a problem-solver.
- Plan for implementation – once you have gathered all data and information and identified priorities – the next step is to plan for Implementation. A plan should set out goals you want to achieve, the challenges that you will need to anticipate, KPIs and targets. It should also assess the resources and capabilities that you might need for the transformation. Timeframes should be factored in – to be scalable any transformation should have a future outlook and not just for now or the immediate future, but also the long-term strategic needs of your team or company. Scaling a process, product or business requires having the right systems, processes, team and technologies. Planning and mapping out internal operating procedures, documenting workflows and creating detailed instructions for team members is critical for scaling quickly.
- Stack your data and processes – stacking your data and processes that can be systemised will help to achieve measurable scale. Metrics are critical to supporting decisions and demonstrating effectiveness and therefore should be a key part of building scale. You can start by building a dashboard that tells a story of past performance, highlights measurements and trends, provides insight and aids in the decision-making process. Invest time up front to build a data-driven system and processes that can operate without interference, rather than creating a treadmill of work that requires an ongoing investment of time and effort. To achieve stacking, create detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for employees or automate your internal priority processes.
- Technology as an enabler – while going through the above steps, you will no doubt observe or hear about how terrible your existing technology tools are or even that they are non-existent. Use this opportunity to ensure that your technology delivers what you need, is fit for purpose and budget and is scalable. As many have learned, you do not always need to spend lots of money on buying bright-shiny expensive tools. Your existing Microsoft suite may be able to address many of your needs, or you may need to look at the benefits of enterprise solutions versus LegalTech point solutions. Doing a technology audit would be helpful – but not before doing the groundwork set out in 1-4 above. Once you have completed that, when you review the technology tools you will hopefully have better clarity of what you need, what will be used by the team and what fits within your budget.
These 5 simple steps can help to assess your current systems and processes, identify any wastage and inefficiencies, and optimise for a scalable way forward. Change management and continuous improvement will also need to be embedded in the operating model of your team. Having written and living SOPs will help ensure that practices are embedded, behaviours are aligned, and teams and individuals are accountable.
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