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How Expert Project Management Protects Your Core Business

Key personnel at law firms need to concentrate on core business. Everything else is distraction.
Of course, support services are necessary to a functioning firm. The challenge is to focus on core business without distracting key players. To this end, many law firms are outsourcing middle and back office functions to legal process outsourcing providers (LPOs) so they can concentrate on client services and optimizing business systems.

The Office Transition Puzzle

However, many law firms still try to project-manage office transitions such as opening new offices and renovating existing ones – sometimes in multiple cities – and significant equipment refreshes. Office transitions are especially time-consuming with significant staffing work and technology integration. Even single-office equipment refreshes involve decommissioning and removing aging equipment, installing new equipment, integrating it with the network, training end users, and troubleshooting initial usage.

There is nothing simple about these projects, yet law firms frequently assign them to their operations managers. Isn’t that what operations managers are for?

No. Law firm operations managers contribute to the firm’s core business and profitability by working directly with partners, optimizing site operations for cost savings, strategizing case acquisition, and overseeing other managers and staff.

Yet overseeing significant office and equipment transitions is a full-time job on its own. These challenging projects have many moving parts and involve law firm staff, multiple vendors and contractors, and multiple locations. If the law firm tags their Operations Manager with this hefty task, then core business activities go begging until the project is done.

Legal Process Outsourcing

Instead of tacking on a second full-time job for a key staff member, entrust project management to an expert implementation LPO provider. These project management specialists support your significant equipment transition projects faster and more economically than in-house staff.

This expert team works with your operations managers and vendors and VARs – and your IT department, architects, electricians, builders, and end users: Anyone who impacts your project’s success.

Project Management Best Practices

When you research project management providers, be sure that they have experience managing equipment transition projects for law firms. Also, review with these best practices in mind:

  • Leadership redundancy: The last thing you want is to launch a project, then watch the team leader encounter an emergency and turn it over to another leader, who must then take time to come up to speed. For projects of significant scope or complexity, your LPO should assign you a primary and secondary management team leader. This double staffing ensures that even if one project manager must leave the project, the process continues without interruption.
  • Deep transition project experience:Look for experienced team members who have successfully managed transition projects in the legal industry. Ideally these members also have direct experience as Operations and Project Managers in law firms. No one else will know better how challenging project management can be, and what a smooth process looks like.
  • Documents the entire process:The team should effectively document the project management process across four categories: project timelines, project planning details, transition execution planning, and transition execution. The team should use the documentation to efficiently manage information, accountabilities, responsibilities, schedules, and communication.
  • Trained backup staff: The project management team should bring in additional staff to shadow and train with assigned on-site teams. This force multiplier ensures that project teams operate smoothly throughout the course of the project, and trains additional team members for future back up services. 
  • Effective collaboration:Large projects don’t operate in a vacuum, and neither should your project management LPO. Epiq for example collaborates with all parties using SmartSheet, a nimble, cloud-based project collaboration platform. SmartSheet manages all project facets including scheduling (milestones, phases, tasks), assignments, reminders, reassignments, tracking project progress, communication, and document sharing.
  • Regular, structured project status calls: Regularly scheduled status calls are an integral factor in successful projects. Status calls keep deliverables on track during transition planning, into project execution, and through the first 90 days of service delivery. Typical status calls should include an initial project introduction call, a weekly project call series, a tactical one-off IT call early in the project, and additional calls with other specialty or focus groups as needed. The LPO team issues detailed notes listing key decisions and action items.
  • Post-project review: The LPO team should be devoted to continuous improvement by applying lessons learned in any client project. Look for the practice of holding a 360˚ feedback review to gather key details about what went well, what might need adjustment, lessons learned, and any improvements to incorporate in future projects.

Epiq’s implementation team does all of this and more. Within the last three years, Epiq has managed 105 major transition projects across 260 distinct locations. When you have a significant transition project, preserve your core business by outsourcing complex project management to expert teams.

Filed under: law firm services, legal administrative, legal process outsourcing, middle office

The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.