You can’t manage what you can’t see: getting the most from law firm workflow data

It seems to me that every few months a new buzzword or phrase becomes popular; it seems to be said by everyone all the time and then quickly becomes a phrase to avoid (in order to avoid setting peoples teeth on edge!).  A particular bugbear for me is “new normal”.  A quick check of the dictionary for the definition: a current situation, social custom etc., that is different from what has been experienced or done before but is expected to become usual or typical.  So whenever there is change, we are in a new normal.  Why do we have to name it, let’s just get on with it!

One of the biggest changes we are living through currently is the move to permanent hybrid working.  The Legal Workflow Management Report tells us that the industry has seen a shift in not only where people work but also when: 58% said that support staff are embracing flexible hours and 77% of lawyers are working outside office hours. 

Many firms are considering how they are going to work over the next 12-24 months; what will their structure look like, where will people work, how will they work, will roles change or evolve and what skills are needed.  Whatever structures are put in place, data is going to be needed every step of the way to tell firms if they are making the right changes or not and to help them plan but, 45% of firms also told us they rely on manual reporting to understand what is happening in their business. 

Time and again firms tell us that they do not have the data they need, when they need it.  This is concerning; how can firms really know what is happening within the business?  And how can they know if changes made are the right changes – how do they measure it?  Data is not a nice to have anymore, it is imperative.  Sir Tim Berners-Lee inventor of the World Wide Web said “Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves“. 

I remember a time when working with data felt intimidating – I thought it was a thing I had to consciously look at and try to solve.  I was lucky to have a mentor who showed me that data is everywhere, and we use it to make decisions all the time without even thinking about it (the weekly shop is a prime example when I think I’m on auto pilot but subconsciously I am picking items based on what I know). 

Fast forward a few years and I actively seek out data to help me understand a problem/situation and make informed decisions.  Data is powerful; it tells a story; it gives you insight and it gives you a way to measure your actions.  Data tells you when you get something right and when you don’t! 

The Legal Workflow Management Report is full of insightful data; it tells us what is happening in the legal industry, what firms predict will happen and what keeps them up at night.  I will be closely watching what happens next – for example, will those who said they have no visibility of support teams, make the leap, and get visibility?  For those 58% of firms who said support staff are embracing flexible hours, how are they going to make it a success for the individuals and the firm?

From my experience working with firms using task delegation software, I’ve seen that they are already making informed decisions.  They can see information that simply wasn’t available before (when processes were manual, and data wasn’t captured).  And support teams are using the data too – they are collaborating in a way that wasn’t possible before because they have complete visibility of tasks, deadlines and work types.  Data isn’t just for management. 

As Sir Tim said, data is precious. 

You can access the Legal Workflow Management Report here.