After nearly a decade of successfully delivering Business Process Transformation solutions to Fortune 100, Fortune 500 and law firms of every size, we at Elegrity have learned (and continue to learn) first-hand what it takes to achieve true success with BPM.
Most of the time, this law firm BPM blog focuses on discussions regarding how to apply the discipline of business process management to meet challenges to law firm profitability and loss prevention. By now you know my opinion - these are hard-core business projects - technology simply serves as the facilitator of the business. Well, simply - hmm. Is it really that simple? Not if you don't have the right technical toolkit, that's for sure.
On Thursday, August 30 at the ILTA 2012 conference, I'll be presenting a session "Mastering Business Process Transformation in Law Firms". This blog provides a preview of some of the discussion we'll have around required technology during that session.
What Your BPM Technology Must Provide
BPM suites aren't enough. Forms aren't enough - I don't care how cool or 'simple' they seem to be to build. The fact is, as your law firm matures in its implementation of BPM, the workflow itself should start to become 'indetectable', or a natural part of the flow of work. That kind of transparency requires application functionality. Stilted form-based workflow stagnates - every time - it is frankly unsustainable over the long-term.
Here's the truth from the real-world of what your firm's BPM platform of choice had better provide
- Scalability. Not just multiple processes - multiple collections of processes (or cradle to grave lifecycle management as Elegrity calls it). Thousands of users (don't be fooled - good BPM doesn't bound itself by your firm's boundaries or number of timekeepers). This scalability must be provided while at the same time being lightweight - both on the back-end and the front-end (client side).
- Sophistication, but Highly Configurable. You can't be limited by the capabilities of the form builder or workflow engine - you need the ability to get out of those boxes. To extend, add-on or supplement. Relationships between data and processes themselves must be managed. Single process thinking is a dead-end.
- Modularity. Re-use, re-use, re-use. I can not over-emphasize the criticality of modularity in every aspect of every process implementation. User interfaces (NOT FORMS), system interfaces, data, business rules, etc. EVERYTHING. If your platform fails you here - you are headed for stagnation. Your firm won't be able to continue its transformation not just from a time and money standpoint - but from an organizational change management standpoint. See my previous blog on the criticality of 'Consistent Change'. This level of modularity requires intelligent abstraction of all aspects of the solution.
- Security. Last, but not least by a long shot, you need an extensible, configurable and law-firm aware security framework that can be applied cross-process, cross-lifecycle, cross-application. It pains me to see this aspect get either butchered or consume more time and effort from IT teams than they ever could have known. Don't underestimate this.
One of These Things Doesn't Look Like the Others...
I suppose the neglect of the technology aspect of law firm business process improvement in this blog is my fault. Its not that I don't think about it, believe me! I and our team spend all day thinking and working on it, as a matter of fact - constantly looking for ways to improve our Law Business Management System platform.
That said, we have what is probably an unfair advantage - we built our LBMS platform from the ground up to embed our years of substantial real-world and practical experience of delivering sophisticated business process management to thousands of users world-wide - and at the same time embedded our legal industry business understanding directly into the platform. As a result, our platform isn't like any other (remember that phrase - "One of these things is not like the others?") - well, that's LBMS. You can read more about LBMS on our product pages and in the following free whitepaper about its uniqueness.