New industry 'how-to' paper gives step-by-step guide to modernising your legal support function
BigHand has tapped into the need in the legal sector for more authentic ‘how-to’ guides with a non-self-promotional paper on how to organise and modernise your legal support services.
The paper, which is written by BigHand’s managing director for product strategy and innovation, James Kippenberger, is intended to help law firms get to grips with the organisational changes they need to make before (or at the same time as) thinking about technology solutions, and is the result of conversations BigHand is having with clients about executing change management.
Speaking to the Orange Rag, Kippenberger said: “Specifically, this piece is around the detailed conversations we’ve had with some of our customers who’ve already been through this process of organisation change and implementing our solutions and gleaning some of the pitfalls and challenges they faced and some of the ways they got around it.”
Those firms include BLM, Pinsent Masons, Taylor Wessing and Osborne Clarke, which are quoted in the paper.
Kippenberger’s step-by-step guide includes extensive tick lists to help with tasks ranging from understanding what your support costs are and what value they bring, to predicting resourcing requirements before it’s too late by accessing real time capacity. Karen Walker, head of business operations at Browne Jacobson says in the paper: “We recognised that there were better ways of working; that we could open up our resource pool beyond their physical office location; and that with the right data and insight we could understand our internal processes far better to make them leaner and more effective.”
Visualising and outlining your future state is key, says Kippenberger, as is mapping out precisely the tasks that need to be undertaken, what skillset people need, and how many people are required. “A restructure that delivers the most benefit means work can be done at the fastest speed, at the lowest cost (by the person most skilled to do it),” he says.
In a section called ROI: myth, legend or reality? Kippenberger says: “Writing a business case with return on investment is (comparatively) easy. Actually delivering the return is less so. Evidence is the single most important factor and without sufficient baseline data, evidence can be weak and anecdotal. When will you start to collect your data? How will you collect it? How will you measure a pre- and post- process meaningfully?”
Louise McCarthy-Teague, HR Director at BLM says: “Gathering data is time consuming, but critical. We spent nine months overall doing time and motion studies of the various roles to really inform our decision making. Firms get that wrong at their peril.”
Ensuring the overall transformation has an identified and extremely engaged owner from day one is critical Kippenberger says, asking “Is this an HR, Operations or IT project? Who knows most about what needs to happen? Who do we have who will own this? And who has the internal credibility? How will you partner with your supplier?”
Restructuring support inevitably entails consideration about how to bring staff along and on this topic Kippenberger, talking about how to best communicate, says: “The firm will have a list of reasons to centralise support. That does not mean lawyers or secretaries will automatically feel the same. How will you deal with the “what is in it for me” question? Have you identified where resistance will be most prevalent?”
Kippenberger tells us that the paper is partly about BigHand being seen as more than just digital dictation or a ‘voice company.’ “It’s about helping law firms to get to grips with the organisational changes they need to make more than just implementing software. There’s a whole bunch of organisational changes you need to consider and do it properly in order to get value from the software itself.”
How to organise and modernise your legal support teams