Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ILTA Session, Alternative Forum Track: Process Mapping

Creating Process Maps:  An Interactive Workshop

These are my notes on an excellent session that eventually turned into a hands-on process mapping experiment.  I fixed some formatting issues later in the day.

Mary Abraham

What's happening today is the equivalent of having Coca-Cola show us their secret recipe.  Seyfarth Shaw is the leading firm in the country on legal project management and process mapping. 

Andrew Baker is Director of Legal Technology Innovations Office, Kim Craig is Director of Legal Project Management. Both discussed process mapping and the Seyfarth story before we got to work (I wish we had started the hands-on work sooner, but I already have some understanding of process mapping, and have heard the Seyfarth story on several previous occasions) .

Andrew Baker and Kim Craig

Process mapping is a technique where a business process or workflow is converted into a visual, step-by-step diagram.  It is used to better understand an existing process and as the basis for improving said process.

You end up with a linear sequence of who, what, when on the work.  When you're done you'll have the established process. 

Once you see a full process map, it can be jarring but transformational. Looping in KM resources such as checklists, samples, forms, and the like can be very effective because the information can be delivered at the time the attorneys need it in their work process.

Process maps are an important and effective training tool.  It gives you better context for the scope of a matter, e.g., what happens after a summary judgment brief is filed. 

Process maps also can greatly assist with pricing and project scoping. A process map can help with the client conversation around scope. 

Kim Craig has had attorney conversations where attorneys confess they don't like to talk about scope or how to do the work with the client because they didn't want to give the perception that they (the attorney) didn't know how to do the work.

Establishing clear scope can help with a client conversation when things go "off the rails." Project scope and process mapping is useful not just on fixed fees but on hourly billed work, because it helps with providing resources to the team and doing  work more effectively.

Seyfarth started doing project management partly because of clients such as DuPont and Motorola.  They started in 2006 with a green belt session.  It started out with a lot of jargon and heavy statistics. 

They moved over towards "lean" and eventually adapted traditional project management to legal.  They started actually mapping processes in 2006.  They worked extensively with attorneys.  It required discussion of matter strategy decisions, staffing, and the like. 

Seyfarth Lean Consulting is a spin-off entity that goes into law departments or clients and does project mapping and project management.

Seyfarth Lean  was slingshotted forward in 2008 with the market downturn. 

In 2010 they furthered development of interactive process maps by using "K2" as a robust workflow management tool. 

Seyfarth not has 175 process maps, with 12 fulll-time legal project managers. The attorneys are investing thousands of hours into the project.  Administrative assistants have also participated.  The primary question is "How do you do this work?" Paralegals, associates and secretaries would often tell partners "that isn't exactly how it happens."  Attorneys shared a lot of best practices. 

The tool they use is called "task map."  A given task has a lead role, billing code, hour estimation, checklist/KM resource, and staffing level, and unique task code.  In developing the map attorneys had a lot of debates about who could do a given task.  Issues like lack of training of a group of associates might come up. 

Process Mapping Exercise

Assume subject matter expertise.  The level depends on the complexity of the problem.  Talk up front about the purpose of the process. 

In the hands-on exercise all the people at one table mapped out a process of their choice (there were a few options given).

Start by writing discrete tasks on each note, using verbs.  Assign owners.  Be ready to split tasks, note decision points and parallel paths.

"Ornamentation," assigning people and time per task, is accomplished after identifying the tasks and their order.

My group included Chris Ende, April Brousseau, Deborah Panella, Peter Krakauer, Chris Edmonson, and (briefly) Randy Steere.   Because of the high level of budgeting experience in the group, we tried to map the process of building a budget.  We succeeded in getting started quickly, I think it helped that we agreed to brainstorm all of the tasks before worrying about order or roles or any such distraction such as "what's the first task."  With my handwriting, it probably didn't help that I was the scribe (I guess I am used to writing things down quickly!)  We then put them in order, Bryan Cave's Chris Edmonson was a great help in that.

In full process mapping, the next step would be identifying level of effort (hours) and the appropriate personnel.   After that the process mappers review for any sign of the "Eight Wastes" of Lean.

Do you have non-value-add steps in your process?  Refine it to be as efficient as possible.  Add checklists to make sure the right people are doing the work. 

Another step before implementing a full process is to conduct a "Force Field" analysis that looks at all the things that either hinder or help all the things that institutionalize that process.  Assign value to each.  That helps determine if the new process will "stick." 

After implementation of a process, Seyfarth uses data to control and improve processes. 

Expected Challenges

Every session with attorneys starts off with "you can't map what *I* do. My work is unique."  (It turns out that even very complex legal work can be mapped).

Another common objection is that "clients don't care about this stuff." (Clients actually are typically exposed to process mapping as it is fairly common in the corporate world).

"This may work for litigation, but it won't work for transactions" *and* "This may work for transactions, but it won't work for litigation."

Benefits from Mapping

They've seen great benefits with client relationships.

Mapping can also help people on the team (e.g., paralegals)  understand their role and the big picture.

Of course it also assists with accurate pricing and project control.

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