Incremental Progress is Key to Obtaining Enhanced Business Outcomes

Implementing change can be one of the biggest challenges for firms. These challenges are compounded even further when firms set the ambitious goal of 100% success; anything less than this is seen as a failure. Is this goal the right expectation, or does it hinder the overall success of a project?

When speaking with other managers and firm leaders recently, all agreed that lawyers want things to change but often struggle with changing themselves. Encouraging people to adapt to new ways of working can be challenging for those managing process improvement projects. How can they change the behaviours and mindset of their teams and work towards a mutual end goal: business improvement?

Unrealistic Expectations

Lawyers by their very nature are perfectionists. It’s this trait that helps make them a good lawyer. Their expertise in providing answers and outcomes for clients is expected. However, when implementing change and process improvement aiming for 100% success can set unrealistic expectations.

Processes are complex, involving various stakeholders, variables, and external factors. Aiming for perfection can prevent people from being open and sharing creative ideas due to fear of failure, leading to potential demotivation and frustration among team members.

Continuous improvement requires the ongoing review of a process and the ability to change where needed, to keep improving. Being open to refining processes and determining what success means to a project will help ensure teams don’t miss opportunities to change tact, adapt, and respond effectively to changing circumstances.

Most importantly, firms must remember that process improvement initiatives involve people, their skills, experiences, and perspectives. Change is difficult for many, and firms must engage and empower their people and draw on their collective wisdom and insights to drive change, adoption, and success.

The Benefits of Incremental Improvement

Yes, a big-bang approach can work. But don’t underestimate the benefits of staged, incremental changes and the positive impact they can have on the long-term success of a project. Small, consistent progress creates a positive momentum. For BigHand customers, this may be implementing a solution in a team-by-team or by office location.

Structured and timed improvements with smaller teams allow firms to identify unknown challenges early, streamline workflows, manage unique team requirements, and optimise business resources. All contribute toward increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved profitability for the business. Regardless of your approach, regular, clear, consistent communication focusing on your purpose is essential.

While some may be challenged by new technology and ways of working, the industry's willingness to embrace digital transformation is apparent. Embracing a culture of continuous improvement encourages innovation, learning, and adaptability while supporting a culture of professional development as well as attracting and retaining talent.

The Risk of Doing Nothing

Hybrid working has proven to be successful and it’s here to stay. However, firms recognise their hybrid working models would improve with better visibility of workloads. And acknowledge they do not have the technology or efficient processes to manage the distribution of work and visibility of team capacity. Many are relying on email as their primary source of task delegation. Inboxes are no longer a source of communication and have become an unruly to-do list, particularly for support teams working for multiple authors. These scenarios are also where I see more lawyers undertaking tasks that should be delegated to other resources.

If a lawyer currently spends an hour a day on tasks that should be delegated to other resources, that is potentially $80,000[1] a year (or more) in wasted productivity and written-off time. How many other lawyers are also not delegating effectively? The cost of doing nothing can add up very quickly.

BigHand's latest industry report shows almost two-thirds of firms have implemented workflow technology to manage legal support tasks and help improve workflow efficiencies and task delegation, providing them with essential visibility of team utilisation and capacity.

With the costly increase in staff turnover and the reduction in client demand, firms need to challenge their traditional working models. Investing in technology and workflows to delegate work more effectively, can significantly improve the lawyer's overall financial performance and the firm's profitability.

Clinging to traditional working models may provide comfort, but at what cost to the business?

We all know that managing change in a law firm can be difficult. However I believe by embracing continuous improvement, setting realistic goals, and valuing incremental progress, your firm can build a culture of engagement that ultimately leads to long-term sustainable success.

Small, continuous improvements can lead to Big success.

I would be interested in hearing others’ thoughts on how you manage change in your firm.

[1] *Calculated as: $350 x 5 hour per weeks x 46 working weeks per year.

About BigHand Workflow Management

To provide the best client service while supporting your bottom line, it’s vital to ensure your teams are working efficiently and smartly. Ineffective and outdated methods of delegating tasks makes it easy for things to be overlooked, means your workforce isn’t properly optimised, your tasks aren’t being delivered on time, and your bottom line is suffering as a result. BigHand Workflow Management is a task management solution that lets you turn your tasks into fully auditable, digital workflow entries. You can create tasks from voice, email, electronic or paper-based requests – from document production requests to reprographics and travel bookings.

BigHand Workflow Management