My last post asked the question, "Is Hourly Billing Just a Fixed Fee in Another Form?" It included a reminder that project management is becoming a real necessity in today's legal marketplace.
Project management, process mapping, and establishing value
Last week's attorney at work Friday Five blog post entitled, "What I Learned in 'College'" provides 5 tips from Steve Nelson gleaned from this year's annual conference of the College of Law Practice Management. I highly recommend that you read Steve's post.
The second of the five points in the post was, "Adopting the core principles of project management goes hand in hand with value billing." One of the speakers at the College, Lisa Damon of Seyfarth Shaw related that her firm has begun using "sophisticated process maps" to trace the efficient handling of matters as part of their project management efforts.
Good project management encompasses not only the process - constantly improving the efficiency with which you provide services to your clients - but also the service itself. Process mapping can help law firms identify the variables likely to occur in a particular type of engagement as well as the possible solutions. But process mapping can also be a great way to aid your clients in understanding both their problem and the value of the service you provide. It may also provide you with insight about gaps in your existing services, or additional areas where you might be able to help your clients.
Small firms leading the way
Nelson also commented that although some large firms are beginning to innovate (in part because some of their large clients are demanding it), small firms still lead the way when it comes to creating new structures that emphasize value. Small firms often can institute change much more quickly and can be more flexible than large firms with big bureaucracies and lots of people to get up to speed when changes are made.
(hat tip to Merrilyn Astin Tarlton who shared Nelson's post on LinkedIn).