At least once per week I get drawn into a conversation about what a team should be tracking and what to do with the data once you have it.  It’s become a truism that only what gets measured gets improved.  That’s why with each new company I join, I review the areas that need to have some light shed on them.  There are always a few things in common at every company, so if you’re not already, here are 5 legal department metrics you should be tracking.

1. Volume.  It doesn’t matter if your team is processing 100 contracts a month or 100 ad words campaigns.  Not knowing what your team is busy doing makes it impossible to add efficient processes and workforce scheduling to make that work easier. It also makes it a lot harder to justify why it takes so long to get a new request completed in your contract management process or to add an additional resource to manage the workload.

2. Type of work variety over time.  Every time I’ve taken on the first lawyer role, I spend the first year doing a lot of work creating contract templates and employee policies. The second year looks a lot different based on how well I set up repeatable processes in the first year.  Tracking the variety of work and how it changes over time serves the dual purpose of showing where the repeatable parts of the contract management process have been successful and highlight where there is either still work to be done in the process or what will become the day to day workload.

3. Workload of the team.  Whether you collect this in a weekly stand up meeting or using ALOE’s Workpoint Capacity planning capabilities, it’s critical that you know the relative workload of your team for proper workforce scheduling. Nothing is more demoralizing to a team than seeing one person consistently get praised for doing one high visibility project, while your workhorses are killing themselves doing the drudgery.  Tracking the amount and complexity of work assigned to the team can help make sure that no one gets burnt out and everyone is pulling their weight.

4. SLAs.  I know a lot of legal teams especially are reluctant to publish SLAs. but I firmly disagree. Without proper turn around expectations, every person on your team spends 20-60 minutes a day answering the question, “where is my project.”   By publishing a reasonable SLA, you can enforce a moratorium on check-ins prior to the SLA expiring, saving your team a ton of time where they can actually work rather than chase where the project is that hasn’t yet come to the top of their list.  The trick is to make sure that your SLAs are set to a reasonable period that is in line with the corporate priorities, i.e. end of quarter sales contracts reviews are turned in 24 hours or marketing review requests are done within 7 days for publication the following week.  It’s also helpful to add visibility in to the status of the project with a dashboard where the requester can see what the general status of their request is before they start the Slack storm requesting an update.

5. Dollars impacted.  This is the one that is most important to showing the exec team, board, and the rest of the company the true value of your company.  How does your work impact the bottom line? Whether you are measuring this through average sales contract value closed, savings on vendor agreements, recovered amounts in litigation, or resolving operational issues faster than expected saving those dollars.  Track the financial impact your team has on the bottom line. This again helps justify the value of our team and relative workforce scheduling to the company. It also helps you justify when you need to bring on a new head, reduce one or modify your contract management process.

No matter what your team’s primary focus is directed to, you should be at least tracking these 5 metrics.  The more mature your team becomes the more you may want to add to these metrics – time in status, issues by department/reporter, heatmaps of projects, etc. Dashboards can be as inclusive as you want to them to be once you start tracking the data.  Just remember that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get improved.

Tanya Avila

Tanya Avila

Tanya has made a career of building legal departments in fast paced, fast growth environments. Having repeated the process at half a dozen different organizations, she is passionate about all things that bring efficiency and sanity to the internal legal process.