Case Study: Law firm preparing for high growth
Blog: Solitaire Consulting Blog
A law firm specialising in intellectual property within emerging markets. They have a global client base of high profile bluechip companies. The firm has approximately 400 staff with offices throughout Africa.
Following some changes within the Senior Management Team, including the appointment of a new Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, the firm agreed a strategy to increase revenues by 100% over the following 4 years. This was to be achieved without increasing costs by more than 50% at the same time as improving performance to meet recently agreed standards. The senior team recognised that fundamental change was required to modernise processes and procedures, and adapt the organisational structure to support a new operating model. They also recognised that they needed external support to help them identify and implement the change.
Following a selection process Solitaire Consulting was appointed to advise the firm and deployed a team of two consultants to carry out an end to end work flow review across the entire business. This included operational departments responsible for processing patent and trademark applications and renewals, the professional areas responsible for prosecution and litigation as well as the business support functions of HR, IT & Finance.
The outcome of this workflow review was a report recommending a portfolio of changes, to be implemented over a 2 year period, around four key areas of:
- Organisational Change
- Process & Systems Improvement
- Performance & Risk Management
- Document Management
The report also provided recommendations regarding the governance and structure of the transformational change programme that would be required to deliver this change. The Senior Management Team approved all of the individual recommendations of the report.
One of the Consultants was retained to act as Project Manager to establish the Change Programme and select the internal resources who would form the core change team. The programme was established with a high level Steering Committee and a Change Team responsible for delivering the work streams. Over time the specific deliverables evolved and the Consultant was instrumental in advising on organisational and process change as well as controlling the overall programme direction.
After an initial 6 month engagement, the management of the programme was transferred to the internal team but the Consultant was retained in a project assurance role on the Steering Committee and acted as mentor to the internal staff with work stream responsibilities.
The major benefit of this project was the creation of a ‘change culture’ across the organisation. At the time of the initial review the firm had seen little change in its previous 30 years of business. The external support by Solitaire Consulting and Paul Every, their lead consultant, has helped the organisation to manage its people through the ‘change curve’. This was not always easy but most staff accepted the new ways of working and that change is now part of business as usual.
The best measure of success that demonstrates the benefits of this project can be seen from the monthly performance metrics. These are now produced for management review and circulated to all staff at the start of each month. Firstly this was something not done before; apart from measuring how many applications / renewals had been completed each month there was very little other analysis. The new measures provide granular detail of team performance related to quality and customer service not just volume. The measures are clearly showing performance is improving and standards are being met on average for more than 80% of cases; this is against the background of increasing business volume.
There is still work to be done, but the foundations have been established for lasting change. The on-going involvement of Solitaire Consulting is providing the role of ‘critical friend’ rather than project manager. This is a key measure of success in itself and demonstrates the ability of the Consultant to pass on knowledge to internal staff to enable them to reach the point of being self sufficient.
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