How to Create Lifecycle Process Playbooks – Step 2 of a Continuous Improvement Program

As I mentioned at the end of my blog post of February 19th, I would next discuss the second step of implementing a Continuous Improvement Program (“CIP”). This step involves putting appropriate processes in place to ensure that the goals established in Step 1 of your continuous improvement program will be achieved.

Overview of a Continuous Improvement Program

CIPcycle-Step-2Permit me to briefly summarize the four steps of a Continuous Improvement Program. These steps are described in some detail on my website here. Below is a summary of those four steps:

Step 1 – General Counsel Dashboard – having metrics in place to measure how you are doing. This is considered a planning and monitoring step.

The remaining steps are execution steps:

Step 2 – Lifecycle Process Playbooks – guides to ensure that all stakeholders understand their roles.

Step 3 – Financial Management – Having proper controls in place for funds spent by the department.

Step 4 – Dispute Avoidance – Putting policies and procedures in place to reduce litigation and claims.

This blog will focus on Step 2 – Lifecycle Process Playbooks.

Lifecycle Process Playbooks

Wow – that is a big title, but actually it refers to a straightforward method of ensuring everyone has a guide to know what is expected of them. The word Lifecycle is used because any process typically consists of a beginning (Trigger), a middle (Ongoing Process) and an end (Closing Out).

Triggers – I will use the word Trigger to refer to the beginning step of a process – i.e., some event triggers a process to begin. It could be receipt of service of process, a request from a business partner to review a contract, or for information requested from a governmental agency. Regardless of the event, various individuals inside and outside the law department will have tasks for which they are responsible. Knowing who has to do what will ensure that nothing falls between the cracks and duplicity of effort is avoided.

Ongoing Process – After the trigger event occurs, there will be some ongoing activity required to address the event. A claim will involve a response, a contract will need to be reviewed and a request from a regulatory agency will need to be completed. These steps will require calendaring and follow-up. Interaction among various individuals will need to be coordinated.

Closing Out – Finally, when the activities involving the event are concluded, there are various Closing steps that should be taken for a variety of reasons. First, are there any “takeaways” to be learned and categorized for future use? Metrics should also be gathered so that future decision making can be supported.

 

 

The table below illustrates a simple matrix to build a Lifecycle Process Playbook:

 

STAKEHOLDER TRIGGERS ONGOING PROCESSES CLOSING OUT
Law Department Each of these boxes should contain the activities and responsibilities of   the stakeholder(s) during the Trigger, Ongoing Process and Closing Out phase
Clients / Customers*
Outside Counsel

 

* Clients/Customers are those entities and organizations requesting, receiving or providing information/services. It could be other departments within the organization, or third parties external to the organization such as regulatory bodies.

 

Summary

I strongly recommend that Lifecycle Process Playbooks are established and maintained for each type of matter for which the law department is responsible. It should also be noted that while I have identified Lifecycle Process Playbooks as Step 2 in establishing a Continuous Improvement Program, the playbooks can also stand on their own. In other words, every department should establish these playbooks even if you do not wish to establish a complete CIP at the present time.

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