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According to survey, six greatest challenges to making better use of productivity metrics

A recent survey of senior in-house attorneys asked them to select the obstacles they face to making effective use of productivity metrics. The survey, by LexisNexis CounselLink entitled “Effects of the Current Economic Downturn on U.S. Law Departments” 2009 at 17, offered respondents six choices. I have listed them in order of frequency, with the percentage of respondents who marked that choice in parenthesis. My comments follow.

Time (22%) – competing demands for time always dogs in-house lawyers. For some managers, the opportunity cost of collecting, vetting, analyzing, and acting on metrics stands out more prominently than the hoped-for gains (See my post of Sept. 9, 2008: opportunity costs of information can be calculated.).

Accuracy of Information (19.8%) – garbage in, garbage out and the costs of verification

Having the Right Tools (15.4%) – a matter management system is a prerequisite

Type of Information (9.9%) – often law departments track what is not useful (hourly billing rates, according to the survey, for example) and fail to tackle harder-to-quantify information that is useful, such as productivity or risk

Communication (7.7%) – I think this may mean to most people the challenge of conveying the results of metrics tracked effectively

Budget (7.7%) – can you afford the people and technology to track metrics

What is missing is “Acting Productively on the Metrics”. It is easy to collect metrics, hard to act.