The last thing any law firm needs is to waste time and money trying to increase efficiencies and enhanced profitability…doesn't that sound like an oxymoron? Well, that's because it is. But I see it happening every single day and it hurts me and it hurts the firms experiencing it.
I absolutely dread the phone call that comes from a law firm CFO or CIO AFTER they have tried and failed to implement business process improvement. I dread it because I know it means they wasted an enormous amount of money and time (which equates to loss of money since they didn’t get any value from their investment and now they are back at step #1. And it happens more often than any of us wants to know.
We’ve been successfully implementing business process improvements for over 8 years for global law firms and corporations. That real-world experience is invaluable in our work with our customers. For this blog, I decided to pull out 3 mistakes that I see law firms making consistently that, if avoided, will help firms get the value from their investment.
Mistake #1: Current Process Analysis Paralysis
Don't spend so much time on how things are currently working! That's a waste of time, and we are trying to eliminate waste, not add to it. Absolutely, we need to understand it, but more importantly, we are looking to CHANGE IT, to move somewhere else.
Here’s where to focus:
- Who is doing what
- Where does that make sense and where doesn’t it?
- What are the biggest areas of time lag?
- What are the biggest challenges?
- What business systems are involved / not involved.
Mistake #2: Trying to Fix Everything At Once
Firms often fear that they will never get budget or time allotted by the firm again, so they try to cram as much into the initial process improvement project as possible.
But the very essence of Business Process Improvement is that it is a CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT mechanism.
We strongly encourage our clients, “Don’t tackle everything at once!” Instead, implement logically and practically scoped improvements. To do that, you utilize your ongoing, growing understanding of the various business processes in your firm, how they interrelate, and a prioritization of their value proposition as a guide.
This way, you deliver ongoing, incremental and intelligent value back into the firm in shorter, tighter timeframes and at a lower overall cost.
Mistake #3: We Can Do It Without Expert Help
It’s surprising how often law firms take on something as important as transforming their organization’s way of working without expert help.
Would you want to walk around an unfamiliar forest blindfolded? If you have never conceived and implemented a business process improvement project for sophisticated business processes, and you try to do the first one yourself, that's essentially what you are doing.
Business Process Improvement is a project unlike any other business / IT initiative your firm has ever attempted. To succeed, you need real-world BPM expertise and experience on your team.
You need someone on your process improvement team that can guide you through how and what to gather during requirements, where to focus to get the most value out of process re-engineering and automation, and where to leave it alone. How to coalesce the various cross-functional teams into the cohesive force of organizational change needed. What to do to ensure fast and enterprise-wide adoption.
It Does Work!
The saddest part for me when I hear a law firm has failed in their business process improvement effort is the incredible opportunity I know they have forfeited.
In my first blog post I related the experience we have with just how much value a successful process improvement initiatve feeds back into a law firm quickly! But every time a law firm fails, it reduces the industry’s understanding of BPM's value proposition, and puts into question one of the most powerful change and management agents available.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to happen at all! It is more than just possible to be successful at business process improvement…in fact, it is infinitely doable and repeatable!
Making an investment is smart, wasting money is...well you get the idea.