As with most operational projects, firms are asked for quick wins with big impact. The following framework outlines a path to those quick wins using existing data sources:
Align to strategy: Data wins must have a return on investment that directly ties to the firm’s overall goals.
Leverage existing data: These data sources already meet a minimum standard of quality and are updated regularly; new types of data can provide for future expansions.
Get leadership support: Data projects will often fall short without leadership to advocate for and allocate resources across the firm. Outline the outcome early, define what the goal of the project is and demonstrate how you will show value.
Beta test: A “pilot group” becomes a beta test to ensure the data solution is accurate, has value and will be accepted by wider groups.
Be scalable: Redoing data work is time-consuming and resource-intensive; creating tools and processes that can be reused is a win.
While all firms have data, many hesitate to dive into data projects because they perceive their data as not reliable, incomplete or otherwise unusable. Fear not — no firm’s data is pretty, and that’s OK. Quick wins can leverage existing data for insights while highlighting where better/more data might help scale the quick win. In fact, uncovering where data might not be in usable shape is a great way to start a data stewardship roadmap.
Valuable sources of existing data that are usable in most firms include:
People (HR) data
Microsoft 365 data
Knowledge base data
All firms have this data and add to it daily. The good news is that this data can inform a variety of high-impact use cases, can often be cleaned with minimal effort and is a strong baseline to build upon.
Diagnose which talent-related factors impact matter delivery and outcomes. Losing team members halfway through an engagement, having an inefficient team composition in place and talent performing tasks that could be automated are all factors that can be measured and addressed.
Assess your firm’s clients and matters on success factors like the ability to cross-sell, expand services without the need to hire and service clients with high collection rates. These conclusions will help identify ideal matter service design that is repeatable and scalable and can be used as a playbook for future engagements.
Create a robust way to analyze how pricing intersects with matter management, billing and collection. Have alternative fee arrangements been successful? Were they profitable? How accurate was the initial scoping? All these factors can help create insight into future practices and structures of fee arrangements.
Clients are demanding more visibility for the efficient management of their matters. Facing these requests from several clients can lead to disparate one-off solutions that are not scalable. Developing which metrics most clients are interested in can give a great base to financial dashboards that can be stood up quickly with minimal disruptions to legal service delivery.
With a smart approach to these quick wins, the ability to leverage existing data and the wide array of uses for that data, the possibility of creating high-impact projects becomes much less daunting. The firms that use this opportunity to inform strategic direction through data-driven insights are both thriving in 2023 and separating themselves from their competitors in the long term.
Originally published in Legal Management, August 2023