Take your firm from surviving to thriving
Article by Affinity Consulting
Do you have a nagging suspicion that you’re missing a key insight when running your firm? Maybe it’s something that would make your firm more competitive, or perhaps it’s a way to increase efficiency. Whatever the insight, it’s critical to the success of your firm that you continue to identify areas that allow you to better serve your clients.
Step 1: Gain clarity
Positive change often starts with clarity. Learn to “cut through the noise” and identify the root causes of issues, not simply the symptoms.
For example, does everyone in your office knows something that “takes too long?” A superficial solution might be to say “do it faster.” However, something “taking too long” often has more to do with repeated, disparate interruptions than with a lax worker or slow technology, for example. If one person answers the phone, greets visitors, and prepares letters for mailing or emailing, then letters being slow to mail probably isn’t the result of the person or internet speed, but is instead the result of a workload that could be streamlined, delegated, or reduced.
Step 2: Get insight
Leverage the power of perspective to change how you think about your firm’s future including understanding all the processes within your firm. Generally, the people doing a process daily, such as paralegals, intake personnel, and receptionists, have the best understanding of how client-facing interactions really go. Finding out how things happen-and why-is valuable knowledge when you are ready to make a change.
Step 3: Develop your roadmap
Finally, understand where you’re going and how to get there. Create a detailed practice analysis report that empowers you to take the next steps toward an efficient, highly successful practice.
Profound transformations start with a crystal-clear understanding of your most significant challenges and exciting opportunities. Focus on three key areas of your practice.
Your people are your greatest asset and greatest source of insight. Open dialogue is critical to the success of organizational change. Take the time to listen to, document, and thoroughly explore your team’s challenges, suggestions, and concerns. Go beyond the “what” to understand and communicate the “why.” Using a people-first approach, you turn skeptics into champions for change.
“The way we’ve always done it” is the enemy of efficiency. Sometimes, it just takes a fresh pair of eyes to see your processes’ time- and energy-wasters. Think of process steps as puzzle pieces. How can they best fit together? Document how you do things now. Do this in a thorough, detailed way. Once you know the step-by-step of how you do things now, which sometimes differs markedly from existing written procedures, then it’s time to find levers to adjust, goals to change, and measurements of success. Of course, the ultimate goal is to eliminate waste, cut procedural clutter, improve efficiency, and document everything to ensure that folks complete things the same way every time.
Even the best, most expensive technology can’t save you from process inefficiencies. That’s why you must start with people and processes and then explore technology solutions. This approach lets you deploy technology precisely in line with what you need. Sometimes, a team simply needs more training on your existing solution. Sometimes, a reconfiguration of a current solution does the trick. Whether it’s new software, a complete system overhaul, or optimizing what you already have, your target should be to get the most for your technology investment.
Identify and prioritize your firm’s steps to advance from surviving to thriving. Get the right people in the right roles, following the right processes, and have solid tech supporting them. Then, you’ll go from feeling overwhelmed and stuck to empowered, confident, and optimistic about your firm’s future.