Advice for Achieving Success in a Law Firm’s Performance Management Project

This is the continuation of the transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of "Applying Analytics to Improve Performance in Law Firms." The moderator is Mark Flaherty, CMO at InetSoft.

I think another piece of advice for achieving success in a law firm’s performance management project is to establish quarterly reviews. We put out the data and the reports each quarter, and then at the end of that the quarter we get them to report in on how they’re progressing.

So, they have a progression agreement. They say, these are KPI’s we are focused on. This is how we’ve worked on some of them, and this how we’ve improved. And that review is involves a managing partner and a deputy managing partner. They are reporting to those. We sit down for probably about an hour for each cluster, going through the performance metrics.

And I think it’s a key for achieving success because the attoroneys know the review are going to happen, so they work on the goals. And the reviews are done at a fairly high level in terms of seniority. We’ve seen the actions. It’s not just a bunch of talk. They’re solving the issues. New issues are actioned upon because I think that the guys know that they’re going to report on it and be accountable for it. So, there are a lot of factors that are making it successful project for us.

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Make Your Dashboards Look As Nice As Possible

Mark: I certainly agree a lot of your points there, the idea of getting help to make your dashboards look as nice as possible. It’s just a brilliant idea. Involving the various groups, getting collaboration and getting agreement ahead of time and helping, that works out. Do you review the performance management dashboards on an ongoing basis, and learn from that in order to apply improvements to them? Even the idea of aiming towards the average for underperformers is smart because as everybody gets better the target keep raising higher automatically.

Ron: Yes, and I think they’re quite effective today.

Mark: Very canny.

Ron: Another thing I should’ve mentioned there, Mark, was just the issues of templates. It’s good that they’re mobile. It’s happened lots of times in the last nine months. Since we’ve been using them for this project, you can be having a meeting about something entirely different. And you can still grab any performance information on your tablet. It’s with you all the time. So, that’s great.

And there’s the novelty value of the tablet dashboard, and I still call it that. For the partners we still get some excitement about seeing the dashboard reports on their laptop. But on their tablet, their iPad, everyone gets excited. It’s so intuitive. We had to just click to the next thing and poke on a number, and it drills down to something. So the ease of access, it has been a big change for us in terms of how they use it. Typically on a PC, they’re doing emails and are quite busy. So, simplifying and making the information easy to get at, it’s just made so much of a difference as well.

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Results from The Performance Management Initiative

Ron: It’s certainly a very positive kind of feeling to the whole thing. Can you tell us a little bit about the results that you’ve got out of the performance management initiative? Speaking to a guy in finance after all, what’s the bottom line of having these performance management tools?

Mark: Well, there has been one particular standout. While t’s been a tough business environment the last few years in global economy, some of the KPIs have not moved a lot and not as much as we would like. But our working capital has improved substantially. So, the lawyers record their time each day, and that’s got a value to it. So, WIP is work in progress that we haven’t yet billed their clients. And it includes what we’ve billed the client, but haven’t yet collected the money for it. And we measure that in days.

I think most law firms would have some kind of KPI for working capital and days. So, ours was 93 days in June. And by December, it was down to 73 days. There was a 20 day improvement. It’s never been that low. It’s a 20% improvement. And there are a reasonable number of skeptics about the program when we put it in, and they were wondering if it’s worth all the effort setting up all the new structures you know. Some people were happy with the old structure and didn’t want to change.

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