How to determine the relative effectiveness of cost control practices

The study of knowledge management techniques discussed in my recent posting followed a research methodology I wish someone could duplicate with outside counsel cost-control methods.

Ask a varied group of corporate counsel about cost reduction methods they have used recently, then use the list that produces in a survey of a larger group.  Ask the larger group to determine their familiarity and satisfaction with the methods.  Rank the methods according to the survey results and then, in a more difficult step, control for such factors as the number of lawyers in departments that give particular rankings and the resources committed to the method.

Ultimately, calculating the effectiveness of any particular cost management tool must balance measuring the popularity of the tool (how often lawyers in-house draw upon it) with measuring results (how the same lawyers say the tool has contributed to reining in costs – ideally demonstrated with spending metrics.  The next methodological step would be to conduct what the researchers describe as a causal analysis, to show the degree of causation between methods and money: do the methods reduce spending and by how much.

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