How work gets done is most definitely as important as the where and the when. In a time where budgets are tight, firms are reviewing their relationship with the client and how to not only improve the experience, but also to streamline processes to improve efficiency.
Processes will need to be digitised so they can be accessed by all, regardless of where they are located. Client facing processes are moving to digital formats more rapidly than internal processes, however there are massive efficiency and productivity gains to be made in both.
What are the challenges?
The move to digitised processes has historically been hindered by industry regulators being slow to move and adapt to non-physical requirements. However, there is movement on this with virtual court appearances and a removal for the requirement for wet signatures in some areas and this is likely to continue and spread in the future. Collaboration and a united front from law firms should also help to push the speed of adoption of digital processes by the regulators and courts along!
Delivering on the anticipated benefits of automation
There has also been much made of the benefits of automation and AI, however some firms have struggled to understand how to make best use of some of the tools which are out there in the market place. This is largely because, after identifying some initial quick wins using Robotic Process Automation (RPA), many repeatable processes identified do in fact have large numbers of subtle or substantial variations, which make them less suitable candidates for RPA alone.
What are the opportunities?
The concepts of process catalogues and process ownership has not been one which has been widely adopted within the sector, however this is starting to change. In the drive for digitisation, having a sound understanding of the key processes which are operating within practice areas and business support teams is crucial.
To make inroads in this area we suggest:
- Creating catalogues of all processes in use within and across practice and support functions.
- Using heatmaps to identify the maturity of digitisation and areas of opportunity.
- Identifying an owner for each process of family of processes.
- Creating a roadmap which sets out the priorities for process digitisation.
- Monitoring and reporting progress.
Document automation is becoming standard practice across law firms, driving efficiencies, reduced cost and human error. But in order to really transform ways of working and deliver real benefits, you need to identify those processes which are suitable for Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Automating repeatable tasks which are stable and have little or no variation, from those which have significant variation and require intelligent decision making and are candidates for Intelligent or HyperAutomation; which requires learning in real time and adjusts to changes.
There are opportunities which have yet to be fully exploited in many Business Support functions, which still have high volume transactions being run and managed by relatively expensive teams.
- Lean principles and deconstruction
Deconstruction is about breaking down the work which is required and understanding what needs to be done and who should be doing it and where. There is an opportunity to apply lean principles to deconstruct the work being done, identifying:
- Where is the value created within each service proposition?
- What is effectively waste? (I.e needless activity and handoffs which don’t add value to the end service or deliverable for clients or internal customers)
- Where does this work need to be done? Can it be centralised, near shored or distributed?
- Which areas are ripe for efficiency gains, either through automation or through shifting who does this work?
- How will visibility be maintained when work is distributed? What toolset is required to support deconstruction, including workflows and tracking of progress?
There are still so many processes that are ripe for improvements across all firms that investing in building capability in lean, design thinking and continuous improvement to support this work should reap large rewards.
For more information about the opportunities for process efficiencies at your firm, contact TiggyR@NineFeetTall.com