At the start of any LPO project there are a number of clear business objectives. Of more concern is the significant “project fog” that prevents project sponsors, leaders, and participants from seeing a clear path forward to address these objectives.
The early stages of The LPO Program focus on giving participants the confidence that the fog will clear. However, participants have to realise that there are a lot of options and variables, and it takes time and effort to work through each of them to create the most robust Legal Outsourcing strategy.
The good news is that project participants come to LPO projects with common objectives. In a recent straw poll of 25 participants from law firms working in 7 LPO projects these objectives ranked as:
- Establishing an effective delivery model for their firm
- Minimising the risk from change
- Addressing the commercial threat from the LPO suppliers
It is worth noting that “cutting costs” was not explicitly stated by law firms as an objective. However, a similar poll of Legal Departments involved in LPO projects came up with the following:
- Managing costs
- Accessing flexible resource/skills pools
- Reducing reliance on law firms
We then asked each participant to answer the following question: “Do you have a clear view as to what the outcome of this Legal Process Outsourcing Project will or should be?”,
- 78% said that they had “No Idea”,
- 14% said they had “Some Ideas”, and
- 8% (i.e. 4 out of 50) said they had a “Clear Idea”
I was surprised by the 78% but it reinforced the importance of the first 2 weeks of The LPO Program and the unspoken mantra of “Clear The Fog!”, namely:
- Focus On Education, bringing all participants up to speed on the Legal Outsourcing market, the range of models available, what their competitors are doing, what the suppliers are doing, what is leading edge and what
- Start to Narrow Down the Options. With such a range of LPO models, each firm or legal department has its own ideas as to what will work for them. While it is good to challenge comfort zones, it is essential to recognise cultural issues and the boundaries they create. So, from Week 1, we are whittling down the range of options that will work for that particular client.
- Capture The Data that will shape and support the strategy. This is often the hardest part of any project and it is common to only get 30-40% of the data that one would ideally like. Based on our experience we can make educated guesses and assumptions to fill in any gaps but the operating volumes, financial information, headcount etc are essential to providing the hard evidence that will clear the fog.
For anyone starting their own LPO project I can only reinforce the above points:
- Get a firm grip on the market
- Start narrowing down your options very early on
- Focus on capturing data about your existing operations
If you can do that within the first 2-3 weeks then you will be clearly charting out a way through the fog and giving your LPO project team the confidence they need.