In last week’s post we discussed the importance of carefully reviewing the firm’s current processes and workflow before abandoning a software application for “the latest and greatest” new product. In this week’s post we review the activity that a firm would typically undertake after the process review is completed.
II. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROCESS CHANGE
Documenting what is happening with your firm’s workflow and processes is just the first step in the Process Change initiative. The key to obtaining meaningful results is to compare the “real” process against the “perceived” process. Some improvements are easily identified. Some obvious steps that can be taken, often by better use of available software tools, are:
- Eliminating redundant tasks
- Re-ordering tasks to increase efficiency
- Re-assigning tasks to reduce costs
Many evaluations stop here, but the most critical part of the review is still missing, and needs to be completed to achieve real results. Evaluate what tasks make sense to continue, and what should be eliminated. The only way to do that is for the firm to clearly understand its goals. Are the firm’s goals to:
- Improve productivity,
- Reduce costs,
- Offer better customer service?
Each task performed should be evaluated against the firm’s goals. Does the task contribute anything to meeting the goal? Unless it is an external requirement, eliminate tasks that do not support your goals. The natural response is a “Yes” to all of these potential goals. Now the reality of a cost/benefit analysis must take place. Your firm must compare its goals to not only the cost to implement, but the reality of the firm’s personnel to implement the changes. You can change processes easily, but changing culture and personalities is much harder.
III. NEW PROCESS IMPLEMENTATION
Implementation starts with creating flowcharts and related documentation, showing what should be happening.
The number one cause of project failure is not the project itself, but how the adoption to change is managed. This must be managed carefully.
Support must come from the top. Without complete top-level support, the project is doomed to fail. People do what is rewarded. If the perception is that top management doesn’t buy-in, there is no point in doing the work outlined in the new process.
The process findings are not just a document to be handed to your staff. It has to be implemented with care, and in well thought-out phases.
Remember, your staff still has day-to-day work to perform. Starting everything at once is too overwhelming. A roll out in phases, and by job type, is advisable. This way, if a particular process is not working, you can modify and re-introduce it at a later date. Process Workflow Change does not occur overnight. It takes time for it to be fully integrated in your firm. The very name itself uses the word “process”. The difference between a project and process is that a project has a definite beginning and end; a process is ongoing.
Old habits die hard. The processes must be both validated and evaluated on an ongoing basis. Test the process frequently when initially implemented, then re-visit at least semi-annually. Is the system still working efficiently? Is the data generated still accurate?
Process change can be painful and complicated on many fronts. It is, however, a better solution than switching software indiscriminately, based on a perceived “greener grass” on the other side of that fence. What is green on the other side of that fence may be the money you have thrown away in chasing an elusive goal.
Crosspointe Consulting Group, LLC has consultants with years of experience in helping law firms improve their operations. Our specialties lie in areas beyond software. Call us at 877-357-0555 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us help you review your processes and maximize the value of the software you already own.