Five crucial enablers for effective processes

Those who want to improve the effectiveness of a law department need to attend to its processes. A framework for doing so comes from Michael Hammer in Harvard Bus. Rev., Vol. 85, April 2007 at 111, where he proposes and describes the five key process enablers.

“Design” covers “the comprehensiveness of the specification of how the process is to be executed.” For example, has a law department shown with a process map, manual, and forms how to prepare and distribute litigation hold orders?

“Performers” covers “the people who execute processes, particularly in terms of their skills and knowledge.” Has a department assigned responsibilities for processes as well as seen to training and backup coverage for those members who perform the processes?

“Owner” covers “a senior [lawyer] who has responsibility for the process and its results.” If something goes wrong, such as with the setting of litigation reserves, is there one lawyer or administrator who can be held accountable?

“Infrastructure” covers “information and management systems that support the process.” Does the law department use technology to help its members perform the process and track their work, such as a patent database or a contract automation system?

“Metrics” covers “the measures the [law department] uses to track the process’ performance.” Can the law department show baseline figures, changes over time, and other metrics concerning the process?

Hammer maintains that these enablers are mutually interdependent: if a law department is missing one regarding a process, the others will prove to be ineffective (See my post of Feb. 6, 2007 on law department processes and references cited.). Hemmer concludes the article with a method and form to let a law department assess the maturity of its processes. The form is available online.

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