Baker McKenzie is rolling out ServiceNow as part of a three-year global professional business services (PBS) transformation plan that will see 315 services requested and run through the enterprise cloud service management platform.
The ambition is to professionalise and standardise business services operations globally and everything from document production to billing to support for directories will run through ServiceNow, meaning that the inefficient back and forth of emails should, all being well, become a thing of the past. It is part of a wider shift at Baker McKenzie, which uses Fulcrum SAP, towards enterprise software and comes during a period of widescale investment in technology that is forecast to reap significant cost savings.
ServiceNow, which is not commonly used by law firms but Latham & Watkins is known to be a client, will go live at Baker McKenzie on 17 March with the first 10 services. The process reengineering project, called PBS21, has seen the creation of a 30-strong project management office (PMO), whose job it is to work with function heads and teams to design and implement the new processes.
The PMO is led by global director of operations, Kate Stonestreet (pictured). As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to Stonestreet about the strategy behind PBS21, the roll out of ServiceNow, and how on earth you rewrite the processes globally at a firm of circa 13,000 employees.
What is PBS21?
In big picture terms what we’re trying to do is modernise and simplify the way we support the business and contribute value. Our support functions are organised along geographic lines, but our practices and clients are global. PBS21 will align our support teams so that they are not siloed as global, regional or local but are one team in terms of the service we provide to our clients.
As we build out that model, we will have expert functions focussed on for example pricing, project management, innovation and technology as well as end to end services delivered between in market teams, experts and end-to-end service teams. In market roles sit in a specific market or practice; experts can be located anywhere but operate across the firm – we don’t need pricing experts in every office, for example; and our end-to-end service teams sit in our Centres in Manila, Belfast and Tampa.
The restructure is underpinned by new processes and technology, which is what is going to allow us to be successful in modernising how we deliver services.
One of the enablers of our strategy is innovation and PBS is innovative by design – but its not about technology, it’s about process and how we deliver new services to clients.
Tell me about your roll out of ServiceNow?
ServiceNow is the enabler of service delivery within PBS: how we request and deliver services and how we manage our teams, not just in terms of the workflow but how we provide all sorts of back end data and analysis that allows us to track delivery against agreed KPIs and SLAs. There has been a huge amount of work prior to going live and on 17 March the first round of 10 services will be delivered through this channel. Over time there will be hundreds of services running through this system, but the first are ready to go live on 17 March.
Of course, PBS21, Service Now and all the other technology we are introducing requires training. As a general observation, from someone who has been with the firm for 27 years, we have never introduced so much tech concurrently. It’s a significant undertaking, but very exciting. Historically we’ve done things more sequentially, but the scale of PBS21 means we have to work in a more agile way. As part of this, we have created a 30-strong Project Management Office that bring transformation experience, working hand in hand with the Technology PMO who have responsibility for delivery of the tech solutions.
PBS21 has forced us to work in a very different and agile way. We have regular stand ups, tools to facilitate workflow and communication – it’s a very different way of working. It’s a fantastic way of working, and those teams, working together, are critical to our success in implementation.
How do the reporting lines work?
Jason Marty has overall responsibility for PBS21 as our Firm COO. I lead the PMO and we are responsible for delivering PBS21.
How will you rewrite the processes globally for a firm the size of Baker McKenzie?
We worked closely with The Boston Consulting Group on design. Of course, when you design something on paper it looks simple but there are obviously many issues when you start to put it into practice. We are very geographically distributed and our biggest geography, the US, only houses 15% of our lawyers. So, it’s a challenging base to come from, but everyone understands that the legal sector is changing, and we have to change with it. We have to be ahead of it and operate like our clients delivering efficient business services in a streamlined way.
We need to ensure we have the right people doing the right roles in the right place. You shouldn’t have the same person emptying the bins as delivering strategy. Equally not all offices want to or can invest in specialist expertise in niche areas so sharing resources is very compelling – it allows us to provide a deeper pool of talent, with access by all.
We know what we need to do and have worked with our process design team and many of our offices and are now in a position to say, ‘this is what it looks like and how we are going to deliver it.’ There are always going to be exceptions, and the need for work arounds to accommodate legal or statutory requirements. We flex for this.
There’s been a huge amount done around training – we’ve taken the approach that we need to onboard everyone. There are five stages to any service implementation: an assessment of the impact on an office; making sure they have the right people in place; knowledge transfer; phased implantation; and hypercare. It’s a very robust process for every service. You have to have a very clear process when operating project delivery at this scale.
Inevitably we will suffer change fatigue. We have to make the most of early momentum and share successes along the way. To be clear, this is not about reducing costs but creating better service in a more standardised way and a better environment for our people to work in, gain specialisation and have wider opportunities to progress their careers within a global organisation.
International Women’s Day
This interview is deliberately timed to coincide with International Women’s Day 2019, where it is important to celebrate the successes of women in the legal sector as well as identify the long way we have to go to achieve diversity.
Stonestreet was this time last year quoted in a report by @her_quest saying:
Stonestreet is the daughter of a vicar who studied politics at university and started out her career in legal publishing in Hong Kong, where she first joined Baker McKenzie in the BD team.
As she was making her way up the ranks, she was supported by former French finance minister Christine Lagarde, who was the first female head of Baker McKenzie. Stonestreet tells us: “We need female role models and male allies, it’s important.”
Stonestreet is a dedicated mum of twins – a boy and a girl – and says: “Balancing work and my children, that’s my biggest challenge.”
She adds: “At the end of the day, however hard it is, I try to be a role model for my daughter and son, because the both need to understand women can succeed in whatever career they have, and both need to understand that diversity is important, it makes for better teams.”