All companies are in the business of creating value. The more value a company manages to create, the more profitable it will (likely) be. The key is to really understand how the business operates and sustains financial profitable growth – now and in the future.

Understanding a company’s different activities and how they can contribute to cost reductions or enable to raise prices is fundamental in order to evaluate its operational effectiveness. In essence, operational effectiveness are the means by which a company and the resources at its disposal can perform in an optimum way. It is a measure on how well a company executes certain activities compared to others in the same industry and market. In order to meet and exceed customers’ expectations an organization must excel in operations management.

In achieving this excellence companies should concentrate on project management, an important tool for shaping their structures and securing their successful functioning. Why is project management so essential? How can it help to structure legal operations more efficiently? These questions can be answered by many project management methodologies, but firstly, the most important is to understand the nature of project management. It is not about increasing bureaucracy, paperwork, setting strict inflexible rules, meaningless processes or never-ending planning that eventually leads to frustrations, wasted time, increased pressure and costs. Effective project management supports operations by building a framework around the planning, coordinating and controlling of activities that maintains a balance between the key elements: scope (which translates to quality), time and cost. It provides the tools and methods to work smarter, supports communication and integration, and creates opportunities for improvement, leading to a better performance, sustainable delivery and increased client satisfaction. In other words, project management helps a business to structure its operations in a more efficient way and brings value to both the company and its clients. For companies in the professional services sector, such as legal companies, where delivering quality service and value to clients is particularly visible and crucial in day-to-day functioning, project management is fundamental.

Project management creates a “three win” situation, major beneficiaries of which are the client (or the customer), the company and the individual (employee). For the client, it brings better predictability and transparency, allows better expectation management and greater efficiency. For the firm, it strengthens its client relationships, optimizes profitability, supports quality and efficiency as well as increases its competitive advantage. For members of the delivery team, it creates the environment where they can work smarter (not harder), under less stress, with a better understanding of tools and how to use them.

How does project management support legal operations? There are fundamental features which can be translated into benefits of good project management methodology[1]:

  • Defines quality requirements in a planned and controlled way throughout the project so that the final deliverables meet the client expectations;
  • Provides adequate planning and coordination of resources in order to make sure that the deliverables are completed on time and within budget;
  • Provides adequate definitions of project roles and responsibilities – if project members understand and accept their responsibilities they can make better decisions;
  • Provides adequate planning and monitoring in order to be prepared for sudden and unexpected changes;
  • Provides the controls and techniques for dealing with changes throughout a project;
  • Helps to identify and manage risks in order to react to and mitigate them in time;
  • Defines the required outcomes of a project to be met once it is successfully completed as a result of the careful planning

In today’s fast-moving business world, change and innovation are imperative for every organization. Project-based operations have become the norm for establishing the foundation and increasing operational efficiency. Though, it is worth remembering that every aspect of project management will be affected by the organization, its social environment, its project stakeholders – both internal and external – and other aspects of the context in which a project is being carried out. Therefore, understanding this context is crucial for planning and decision-making, as the project is progressing to achieve its objectives and goals.

 

[1] Based on PRINCE2® project management methodology (2017 update)

 

About the authors

Juliane Diefenbach

Beata Kowalska

Juliane Diefenbach (Europe Practice Development and Knowledge Manager) & Beata Kowalska (Europe Legal Project Manager)

Dentons Europe Practice Development and Knowledge Management team provides the Firm with tools and techniques for boosting efficiency, collaboration, client partnering, innovation and thought leadership. In addition to Dentons’ Legal Project Management program, the team advises on innovative solutions for better knowledge and information sharing and supports the automation of documents through market-leading tech solutions.