This post discusses the first step in establishing a Continuous Improvement Program. The objective of this first step is to define metrics by which the department can measure its effectiveness in serving the needs of the corporation. I like to refer to this step as developing a General Counsel Dashboard – because it will result in a series of measures that department managers can refer to in real-time whenever needed to determine how the department is doing in serving its stakeholders.
How to build a General Counsel Dashboard
I believe it would be safe to say that if one were to conduct a survey of general counsel as to the reason they invested in technology, the overwhelming response could be summarized as follows – “to improve the performance of their department”. But that is a very broad statement. Eliciting a more detailed response might yield responses such as:
- Reduce outside counsel expenditures
- Improve the management of contracts and documents
- Reduce the amount of time spent by legal professionals on administrative tasks
These are examples of admirable goals. In order to achieve these goals, three things are required:
There needs to be a starting point relative to the goal – (point A)
In terms of the above examples, starting points could be as follows:
- Identify current outside legal expenditures by type of matter is a good starting point if your goal is to reduce outside counsel expenditures;
- Identify the current location of active contracts and documents would be a good starting point if the goal is to improve the management of contracts and documents;
- Identify the administrative tasks currently performed by attorneys and paralegals
There has to be a statement of a realistic goal – (point B)
Again using the above examples, realistic goals might be:
- Reduce outside legal expenses 12% in the current fiscal year
- Centralize the electronic storage of all contracts in the next 8 months
- Eliminate manually produced status reports
Of course, the above metrics are merely examples. More examples can be found here:
This is the basic approach in Step 1 of defining metrics for a Continuous Improvement Program.
There needs to be a plan to get from point A to point B
Once you have developed those metrics which make the most sense for your department, you can then move on to Step 2 in implementing a continuous improvement program – the development of Lifecycle Playbooks for each of the business goals you are looking to achieve. I will show you a straightforward method for developing the playbooks in a subsequent blog post.