The People and The Process

Before you think about software, think about your people and your processes. Remember, software needs consistency to work best.

As a Practice Management Specialist, I am constantly working with software. And sometimes I find myself so focused on what the software can do that I lose sight of the people who use the software, and how they use it.

And I’m probably talking about more people than you think. Take, for example, a template for quick production of a standard document. Let’s say a “Request for information” letter. Yes, the person who activates the template is the main person in the process, but what about the others:

  • Who drafted the content of the letter?

  • Who keeps track of the other stuff that’s in the letter, like details about the staff, their titles and direct phone numbers?

  • What about the people who decide how the letter should be formatted?

  • Who’s printing the label or the envelope?

  • Who makes sure that the right letter gets into the right envelope?

This simple example clearly illuminates 2 things: the multiple steps involved in creating this letter; and the many people involved, albeit indirectly.

Many firms have no consistent process for their many “behind the scenes” activities. Sure, they get done, but:

  • it takes longer than it should

  • there are inconsistencies in the outcome

  • the same decisions keep getting made over and over again.

But after a time, the inefficiencies will start to slow things down. There are two ways to deal with these bottlenecks - hire more people or automate and make those you have more efficient. Many opt to automate by adding a new coat of paint - paving the cowpaths - rather than deconstructing the process and reconstructing it from the ground up to be both efficient and highly automated.

Before you think about applying software to your needs, remember: the software needs a process before it can automate. So, before you start investing time and money in software, make sure you understand the process you’re working with.

As a lawyer, you are a highly skilled professional, trained and talented in your area of expertise. But you might not be a world class process analyser. We are. We can help you get the processes sorted out BEFORE they get automated. We at ellwood can help with this. We’ve worked in hundreds of firms doing work in all types of law.

If you do family law, for instance, you have to be careful when corresponding with your clients - or potential clients. Sending correspondence to the matrimonial home could have disastrous consequences. We can help with the best way to save contact information so the “secondary” info is sequestered from any automated processes you put in place.

And, once you’ve got a process, make sure everyone else knows the process and is, in fact, doing it that way. ellwood staff - familiar with your process and the software which automates that process - can help with, or do, the training required to make sure you get a seamless transition to your new process. Because it’s really disheartening to implement a new, automated process and then watch it languish unused.

This is just one example of how our experience with law firms can benefit you and your firm. Our familiarity with the challenges of your area of law enable us to see the best way to set up and automate your processes. We can help make it happen.