It may simply be a trick of perception, but there’s an undeniable energy to the start of a new year – especially this one – that lends momentum to making positive changes in our habits.
And for a law firm beginning a new fiscal year, what better time than now to follow through with the improvements you’ve been meaning to make?
Standardize to Streamline
The tricky part about standardizing tasks and procedures is that you don’t start out that way. In a firm’s early days, you’re still learning what works. So standardization isn’t initially a goal.
But at a certain point, as tasks and staff members grow, lack of standardization can lead to uneven results and inefficiencies. Even something as simple as being able to quickly find a document for a client can become a chore if different team members have different approaches to filing.
To get everyone on the same page, start by compiling a list of common tasks and the steps required to complete them. And set priorities – such as client intake, case management, and calendaring.
Work with your team to decide how tasks will get done. This can give the people who do the tasks most often a stake and help ensure that everyone understands why things are being done the way they are.
Once you’ve decided on standards, document them. This will lead to clearer communication in hiring and training – and among current staff.
Weed Out the Inefficiencies in Your Workflows
Inefficiencies tend to accumulate in a way that makes them hard to see. We suspect a couple things aren’t going quite as smoothly as they could, but when we step back, we realize that there are even more time-drains in the day than we thought.
In addition to eating up time – say, by spending too much time sending out individual bills – inefficiencies can cause problems noticeable to others outside the firm – like sluggish client communications and missed deadlines.
To make changes, examine and address workflows that are causing the biggest tangles in your day. The solution may require revisiting how things have always been done or investing in new technology, but the effort can lead to more efficient and less stressful days moving forward.
Consolidate Client Data
We all know we should keep client communications and documents organized. And that it’s easy to put off.
Yet the resulting time and energy spent looking for things doesn’t make your job easier. Instead of telling yourself you’ll sort through it all someday, let a practice management system do it for you. Besides, being able to quickly pull up needed documents never hurt anyone’s professional presentation!
Use Measurements to Build Solid Goals
Goals provide vision and guidance – and they’re especially helpful when they’re based on solid data, not gut feeling.
Use your practice management system to track data and metrics. This information can provide valuable context for all kinds of decisions and create a sturdy foundation for setting firm goals. Having realistic goals informed by specifics can help your firm grow in the direction you want – and create positive team energy when goals are met.
Modernize Your Tech
Working from home has emphasized how much of a game-changer technology can be. And that’s especially true when the tech you’re using is up-to-date.
Old tech can still get the job done, but it’s probably costing you hours of valuable time. Today’s cloud-based practice management systems let you work from anywhere, including from your phone. In terms of time saved, features like document creation, automation, legal-specific tools, and synced billing and accounting quickly add up to make a difference.
Do a technology audit of your various practice areas to see when you last upgraded – and educate yourself on what’s changed. Most practice management systems offer a free trial so you can get a feel for what the program is like and if it’s a fit for your firm.
Remote working has highlighted the value of tech and forced companies to streamline their products even more, so now is a great time to switch.
Head into 2021 prepared with better habits for the year ahead: standardize, eliminate inefficiencies, consolidate client information, leverage metrics, and modernize your tech. Your time is worth it!
To learn more about breaking bad habits, watch this webinar: Breaking Bad Habits in 2021.