Managing the Organisational and Business Expectations – Part 3 Adding Value

Are you and your colleagues struggling to nail Adding Value in a meaningful way?

Whilst ‘managing expectations’ was the top topic in our GCRC survey earlier this year, the main evergreen topic of ‘Value – delivering or adding causes most concern in this vital area of relationships between legal and the business.

It is assumed that you have read Part 1 and 2; and it would be helpful if you had read my other blogs on my website http://www.managingexternallegalresources.co.uk/blog/as these contain information that you could use in ‘Adding Value’ to your business colleagues depending where you are in the continuum.

As Part 1 and 2 provided you with lots of ideas and analysis activities I have decided to focus this one on implementation. I have personally developed and used this one in my in-house career and it is contained in my book with Richard Tapp – The In-house Toolkit, Chapter 4 Adding Value. This step-by-step approach also provides a structure to turn ‘Adding Value’ into something tangible instead of being too nebulous to deliver and be recognised.

 The steps are as follows:

  1. Do you already have a definition or at least a written understanding of what is meant by this phrase? If you and your colleagues already have a definition of value (delivering or adding) then you can use this as a yardstick to measure your services. Is it the same for every part of the business? If you have many different business divisions or departments then use the methodology in my Strategy – ensuring your legal activities support your organisation’s strategy and key players report to inform discussions.
  1. Defining ‘Added Value’. This first part of using an agreed definition is a crucial step in the success of any value initiative. I strongly recommend that you start with your team before discussing what this means with the business. If you are a sole in-house then write your own definition and take opinions from other lawyers and/or coaches/consultants.

When you are exploring this area with your team on an away day or in a focussed meeting on this subject you might want to consider:

  • The ‘service’ element of what you provide – this is the easiest part for your colleagues to understand and provide feedback about. Included here is also interpersonal communication and listening skills of your lawyers, how you and your team manage electronic communication, how easy it is to access your department etc.
  • Other corporate elements – such as financial including budget preparation etc, contributions to the culture of the organisation, including adherence to values and integrity, leadership and management, project management and joint projects, business knowledge of your organisation or sector, trends within the legal services you are involved in and/or purchase, innovation and the impact of I.T., on delivering legal services, spending time within the business, sharing knowhow, setting up contract processes.

Identify what is important to legal first including what your team excels at or would like to develop further.

 This should then provide a framework or discussion topics to talk to your colleagues that have the full support of the legal team. A commitment question I often use is to ask lawyers to provide a number out of ten on how committed they are to complete an action or support a new initiative. Any score less than a sincere ten out of ten means they have built in ‘wiggle room’. So this is worth exploring to ascertain any perceived obstacles and ways to overcome them before you speak to your business colleagues.

  1. Involving the business. Clearly a series of meetings can be undertaken to involve the business or this can be done informally when working with your colleagues on specific key transactions.

Document the results of each of your discussions with the business on ‘Adding Value’. Use this data to ascertain synergies and differences between legal and the business as well as between different parts of the business. A simple way to do this is to have a spread sheet with a scoring system. Utilising a scoring system should identify what is important and what is ‘nice-to-haves’ masquerading as important. It should also help eliminate a ‘kitchen sink’ approach of including everything particularly where the business/legal do not have extensive budgets.

Look for ‘quick wins’ that will breed a success culture within legal as well as between legal and the business.

  1. Adding Value’ is rarely free. Review the resourcing requirements to provide the added value elements you have identified and prepare a clear business case so that you can make an informed choice of what you and/or the business wants to pay for.
  1. An agreed measurement methodology for any added value elements is required. Sometimes this may require a pilot scheme to test these elements, or may just form part of the continuous improvement processes you and the business have in place.
  1. Communication. Set up a communication process so your measurements are communicated to the team, business colleagues and the organisation.
  1. Leadership. Be prepared to lead and advise both the business and your legal team on the continually raising the bar on managing expectations.
  1. Review these ‘Adding Value’ elements on a periodic basis and certainly in your review meetings with the business. In fact these should be included in your internal client surveys

Conclusion

With the pressing demands busy ‘day’ job the D.I.Y., approach does not suit everyone. Often see projects fail because the time needed to devise, involve and implement is always seriously underestimated. There is nothing worse than starting down this path and subsequently failing as it forces you into damage limitation conversations both with your own team and the business.

I can improve your chances of success in this area in the following ways:

  1. Team Away Day – start the 2015 with a new project that involves the whole team and your business colleagues to deliver and add value to your organisation. The format of the day ends with action plans.
  1. Consultative Review. You may have already started the process and are now stuck. A consultative review contains practical steps for you and the business to move forward in a productive way.
  1. Coaching and/or Consultancy package. If you are beginning this project, I offer a tailored support package to your project utilising my industry expertise and experience on an agreed time basis. For example this could be providing coaching to your project manager, reviewing your documentation or being part of periodic project meetings.
  1. Project Management Arrangement – Alternatively I offer a full project management service in conjunction with your team on a time and success fee basis.

Contact me now for no obligation conversation to discuss your specific needs on 07921540039. Any bookings made this year for first quarter of 2015 will qualify for a complimentary copy of my new book – The In-House Toolkit.

Any questions/comments on the contents of this report to ann@managingexternallegalresources.co.uk

Managing external legal resources is a dedicated website and Ann Page delivers strategic coaching, leadership, management and interpersonal skills training to in-house lawyers.

 The GC Research Club (GCRC) blends social media expertise, a wealth of specific industry knowledge and metrics management into a cost effective approach to creating value, improving productivity and protecting and growing your department’s contribution to company and reputation. Please visit www.http://gcresearchclub.com/membership/

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