Confessions of an Operations Guru turned Legal Ops Novice, Part 4: How Processes and Workflows Create Repeatable Efficiencies
Previously on our blog, we’ve given some examples of workflows to get your creative juices flowing, and, we’ve outlined some steps to optimizing your workflow management. This week, we held a webinar where experts gave input on how to create efficient processes and went through a how-to step-by-step.
The steps we outlined in the webinar are:
- Understand what’s currently being done and why
- Identify problem areas
- Assess your resources
- Remove Redundancies and Unnecessary Steps
- Streamline Steps
- Test and Adapt
Today’s discussion primarily references steps 4 and 5. Workflows and processes might not be the most “sexy” part of business, and most people don’t really enjoy talking about them (I recognize that I’m an exception to this rule). However, when the right processes are put in place, they can make everyone’s lives a little bit easier.
Before we get in the weeds here, I want to clarify that we’ll be talking a little more about workflows than processes. Process can be viewed as the overarching steps required to keep your business flowing in a particular area, while workflows give a specific order of steps within that process to accomplish a specific goal.
In my previous positions through the years, I’ve always been responsible for creating processes and procedures. Many of these positions were at non-profits or businesses that didn’t prioritize technology, so there was often not much budget for utilizing external resources to help create repeatable efficiencies. There are always some creative ways to get around this, like reducing administrative burden for the majority of a team by reducing their duplication, and dedicating a less expensive human resource on the back end to ensure all documentation is stored in the right place (Sarah has a great example of this in our webinar). Now, in my position at ALOE, I’m able to help companies all over the world create repeatable efficiencies through automated workflows.
Workflows and workflow automations can help remove the need for dedicating a human resource when the right tools are in place. The key to identifying where to invest in workflows is understanding where time is unnecessarily being spent, or where mistakes that are expensive and time consuming to fix are often made.
The majority of workflows our clients implement (in no particular order) are in the realms of:
- Document Storage/Tracking
Approvals. Creating automated triggers in your approval process can not only create repeatable efficiencies in automatically sending a contract or matter to specific approvers when it meets pre-defined criteria, but it also decreases your training time for new staff members and reduces opportunities for error. With software that tracks approvals, you can also audit your system to identify who made the approval and when.
Reminders/Renewals. Automating alerts to attorneys or clients when a non-renewal period is approaching eliminates administrative work on the part of the attorney, ensures the client is notified in adequate time, and, with the right triggers in place, can automatically generate an amendment or renewal contract based on the client’s selection.
Document Storage/Tracking. While systems like ALOE come with a document storage tool to act as a repository for all your legal documents, integrating with other tools like Salesforce enable other teams to see relevant client history by being able to pull previous contracts in that team’s existing system. Removing the need for human resources to store a file in multiple places creates repeatable efficiencies and reduces costly errors.
Find out more about creating efficient processes and watch our webinar.
You can also get the handouts and slides below!