The Ultimate Guide to Legal Operations: Part G

Preparing Your Legal Operations Agenda

by GLS GROUP July 02, 2020

Rocket prep

GLS has developed a 7-step framework to help IHLs plan and organise their transformation agenda – whether for a total IHL Turnaround or for focused improvement projects.

Pre-mobilisation reading

Before you commence any formal legal operations/transformation initiative – we strongly recommend some preliminary reading to develop an understanding of the following two vital matters:

• Vital IHL Processes: being able to recognise the IHL Lines / Stations that we introduced to you in Part F, which will help you break down your transformation journey into manageable parts; and

• Transformation Decision Making: being familiar with R.P.L.V. so that your daily operational decisions can start to consistently contribute to your overall transformation agenda.

For your convenience, we have published an executive summary of our R.P.L.V. white paper as Part J.

With the above done, in this chapter of our Guide we share with you a tried and tested methodology that will allow you to plan and implement the transformation of any aspect of your legal function.

Related Resource: See the interactive GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map

Related Resource: See Part J of this Guide for Essential Legal Operations Thinking – R.P.L.V.

Related Resource: See our White Paper R.P.L.V. IHL Transformation Decision Making

Legal Operations Planning – 7 Steps

GLS has developed a 7-step framework to help IHLs plan and organise their transformation agenda – whether for a total IHL Turnaround or for focused IHL Improvements.

The 7 steps are as follows:

7 Steps LO Planning

Step 1: Audit Existing Functions 

Audit checklistWhile many GCs will instinctively know what the “major” red flag performance areas are, a proper transformation program requires, in time, a methodical assessment of every aspect of a legal team’s performance.

Whilst outsourcing this task might risk discomfort (maybe you will not like the results), most GCs do not currently have the knowledge and tools in-house to undertake this kind of assessment themselves.

The GLS Transformation Tube Map, as introduced in Part F, can help you to understand the key IHL Lines and the associated IHL Stations that you must audit for their presence and current levels of performance.

Over a 24 month period, the time we generally recommend for a full departmental transformation project, all IHL Stations should be the subject of a performance audit.

Related Resource: See the interactive GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map

Related Resource: View our Legal Dept. Efficiency Audit Solution

By auditing your IHL for the presence of the IHL Lines/Stations, you will build a snapshot of what is the current “infrastructure” available to your IHL and what can be leveraged to move your IHL towards world class performance.

By using the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map as a guide to the most critical IHL Lines, the emergent data will help you to identify efficient intervention points which will, in time, deliver actual service improvement levels.

Coming out of this stage, you will understand your IHL Lines/Station inventory and its performance assessment and can begin the process of identifying the desired focal points of your legal operations strategy.

Step 2: Understand What The Optimised IHL Team Looks Like

Thinking bubblesTransformation entails moving from your present state to your ideal future state by means of a realistic and incremental transformation plan. Accordingly, understanding what you want your future to look like is a key step.

Step 2 entails accessing reference data as to the productivity outcomes that an optimally performing IHL team can achieve across each IHL Line/Station. I.e. identify what your IHL could become.

This is a critical phase, as many IHLs are often simply not aware of the full scope of technologies, data analytics, automation opportunities and other legal operations tools that are actually available to them.

GLS can help your IHL team instantly access such reference data and assist you to benchmark your team’s performance.

Stage 3: Assess How Your Performance Stacks Up 

Comparing performanceAdopting every “high-water mark” performance feature of an optimally performing IHL is simply not feasible – but even if you are not seeking to adopt the absolute “high-water mark”, understanding what that high-water mark looks like will provide valuable context for informed decision making.

By identifying the performance features of the “optimal” IHL team, you can conduct a gap analysis against your current levels of performance and a “wish list” of features that you might want to implement.

The ensuing report will identify underperforming and/or missing elements at both the IHL Line and IHL Station level. Armed with this broad view of what you want to achieve, you can then proceed to narrow your focus towards the underperforming and/or missing elements.

Transparency is good for any in-house legal department, even if it hurts. However, a poor performance score should not be seen as a problem - rather it should be understood as an opportunity, delivering a lower baseline from which marked improvement can be demonstrated and celebrated.

The same data might not deliver the same result where the performance assessment is sponsored by another part of the business – indeed, such findings can actually result in the de-platforming of existing IHL leadership.

By taking the initiative to assess your own performance, you take control over the transformation process. Approaching this in a totally transparent manner is not only critical – it is self serving.

Being able to demonstrate the success of your self-authored efforts will rapidly become a powerful source of credibility for you and for your team.

Step 4: Apply R.P.L.V. Decision Making

4 elements 2To finalise your legal operations goals, you have to apply the last 3 aspects of R.P.L.V.: IHL Transformation Decision Making to your “wish list”, in order to ensure that you set reliable goals that will deliver optimal results.

Given finite resources, you must focus on Prioritised areas that can deliver maximum Leverage potential and whose performance metrics can be Validated – i.e. the P, L and the V.

As has been stated numerous times in this Guide, you must incorporate R.P.L.V. decision making into all of your resource allocation decisions – it needs to become habitual.

Related Resource: For a detailed overview of R.P.L.V., see our white paper “R.P.L.V. - IHL Transformation Decision Making” 

Step 5: Pilot Your Way to Success

Target shootingThe key transformation agendas success is to chase “quick wins” that demonstrate rapid ROI. This is best when combined with an ability to meet newly defined KPIs, as well as embracing the dichotomy of learnings from failure.

Most successful legal operations implementations have to deal with a "failure" at some point, so whilst you are focusing on quick wins – you also want to be receptive to the learnings from any mistakes.

The only way for this implementation dichotomy to co-exist is to adopt a pilot scale implementation strategy – targeting a limited subset of users, business units and geographies – who are likely to be engaged and willing participants.

Once you have succeeded in enhancing the performance of a select number of pilot IHL Stations, across a select number of IHL Lines – you can then begin to increasingly ratchet up your agenda.

Interestingly, for major MNCs, the Asia Pacific Region has consistently proven to be one of the best regions in the World in which to pilot IHL Transformation projects before apply the lessons learned to a Global roll out.

This typically applies due to the following reasons:

• scale of operations in Asia Pacific is often “just right” – neither too big nor too small;

• economically, jurisdictionally, linguistically and culturally diverse – if your transformation solutions can work in Asia Pacific they will work anywhere;

• Asia Pacific Region is consistently the earliest adopter of new technologies and as such is often more receptive to change; and

• the Asia Pacific operations of most MNCs are less well-resourced than North American and European markets and as such improved efficiencies tend to result in marked ROI.

Step 6: Optimise Through Data Analytics

data assessEvery implementation will require an on-going process of “bedding down” i.e. settling into a perpetual and dynamic “optimisation phase”.

Effective legal operations is not a “set and forget” process – it is about continual evaluation of legal resource performance, considered against emergent tools & practices and constant optimisation. Data analytics is key.

Getting the right data to the right people at the right time is critical. In legal departments, any project or process should start with a strategy that drives activity that can be reported upon after the fact, and thereby drive ongoing improvements and further organisational buy-in.

In Part I: IHL Performance Analytics we introduce the concept of IHLs recording and utilising performance metrics i.e. IHL “data analytics”.

Step 7: Change Management

paper boatAs an overarching legal operations design concept – “change management” is without doubt an omni-present consideration.

The sequencing and pace of your legal operations agenda will directly correlate to the “change management” profile of your team and/or organisation.

Having a proactive and robust “change management” agenda as part of your legal operations plan is an essential criterion for success – you must bring your team and wider workplace along with you on this journey or you will fail.

Optimising IHL Station Performance

As you can see from the GLS Transformation Tube Map, each IHL Line is comprised of IHL Stations that either serve a “standalone” purpose or combine with other IHL Stations to affect a common purpose.

Whilst some IHL Stations can encapsulate all activities associated with a specific task/purpose, it is rare that any one IHL Station does not contribute to the performance of other IHL Stations or the overall performance of the IHL Line.

In either construct, achieving the optimal performance of each individual IHL Station becomes a fundamental strategy in achieving optimal IHL performance. Meaning that IHLs must focus on resource/process specific performance.

Remembering that the New Law IHL operational norm is to achieve “far more performance with far less financial and human resource expenditure”, this translates into an IHL Station specific strategy as follows:

5 stars

Achieving Optimal Station Performance: achieving absolutely optimal productivity performance outcomes from each capability of each IHL Station;

Reducing Station Operating Costs: achieving minimal resource consumption whilst maintaining maximum performance outcomes;

Achieving Compound Station Performance: looking for ways to combine existing resources to achieve a “2+2 = 50” productivity result (see below); and

New Station Implementation: deploying critical “new” stations that have been historically absent but whose absence is like an “anchor” dragging down the overall performance of the applicable IHL Line(s).

As such, IHLs must in the first instance, adopt an extremely “clinical” approach to analysing and adjusting the performance of each IHL Station, and then explore which combinations of IHL Stations achieve a “multiplier performance”.

Optimising IHL Station Performance

The 7 Step Transformation Framework outlined above can readily be applied to each specific IHL Station to develop and implement IHL Station specific performance enhancement plans.

The baseline performance levels that the IHL team must be fully across for each IHL Station are as follows;

• Business Objectives: you must be absolutely clear about which of your Business’s stated objectives each IHL Station will directly support. If there is no clear answer to that, then you must revisit the case for seeking to optimise that Station.

• Functional Case: you must be absolutely clear about what are the full functional requirements that must be addressed by each IHL Station, including what functions can be additionally achieved as a result of the technology you deploy at each IHL Station.

• Resource Requirements: you must be absolutely clear about the IHL resources that are required to constitute and operate each IHL Station such that optimal productivity performance/resonance is achieved.

• Implementation Profile: you must be absolutely clear about what it will take to implement each IHL Station (in the case of greenfield implementations) – including resources, stakeholders and timelines.

• User Competencies: you must be absolutely clear about what personnel requirements and skills (both initial and ongoing) are required for the optimal performance of each IHL Station.

• Performance Levels: you must be absolutely clear as to what performance levels would represent “world class performance” for each IHL Station. This allows you to recognise when you have achieved maximum productivity expression.

• Performance Validation: you must be absolutely clear about what performance metrics you can deploy at each IHL Station to gauge and validate the performance / IHL ROI that are you are achieving at each IHL Station.

• Maintenance & Optimisation: you must be absolutely clear about what are the maintenance requirement for each IHL Station. I.e. what resources are required to keep each IHL Station performing at an optimal level – you must protect your investment at all times.

GLS Group can help you formulate your assessment for each of the above metrics should you need help. We provide detailed diagnostic and performance enhancement support solutions.

Related Resource: GLS Legal Dept. Efficiency Audit™ - An audit tool to optimise your entire legal department

Related Resource: GLS Business Process Engineering™ - Efficiency through process optimisation

Related Resource: GLS Legal Dept. KPI™ - A manual of essential Legal Dept. KPIs

Related Resource: GLS Legal Technology Consulting™ - Legal team technology choice

Related Resource: GLS Contracting Function Efficiency Audit™ - An audit tool to optimise your contracting support function

Making 2+2 = 50 Performance Levels

Given that no IHL is likely to be the beneficiary of significant increases in IHL resources in the immediate future, IHLs must more proactively combine existing IHL resource categories together to achieve a “multiplier effect” with their performance outcomes.

This theme was explored in depth in GLS Legal Operations Master Class 3 (2020) – Leveraging Legal Resources and 6 Effective Leverage Strategies.

We encourage you to (re)watch that Master Class to understand how best to leverage IHL resources.

In short, IHLs must also adopt the practice of looking for combinations of IHL resources that can drive maximum IHL productivity.

Several very basic and self-explanatory examples of IHL resource combinations that are known to produce significant aggregate productivity yields include:

Resource Combination

Related Resource: GLS Legal Operations Master Class 3 (2020) – Legal Resources & 6 Effective Leverage Strategies

Essential Observations/Tips:

• All IHLs must be able to explain team performance by reference to hard data
• Every legal dept. workflow generates data that can drive optimized performance
• Performance metrics are the best means of driving maximum legal resource productivity
• You don’t need to be a financial analyst to maintain powerful but basic metrics
• Reportable metrics are endless – it is critical you start with a limited number of key metrics



In Part H, we will look at a number of extremely powerful and formative “first steps” that IHLs should be taking to fundamentally shape the extent to which they can transform critical IHL functions.


For other resources:


Copyright Global Legal Solutions 2020 ©

GLS Group - Nominated by Financial Times as the:
"Most Innovative Law Firm - Asia Pacific"
Innovation through Technology 
The Middle East Legal Awards 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Legal Operations: Part A :An Introduction

An executive summary of the key highlights and concepts that integral to effective legal operations. ... Continue reading

The Ultimate Guide to Legal Operations: Part B :What is meant by “legal operations”?

What exactly is this term / practice / discipline and why is it important? ... Continue reading

Performance Managing Your External Legal Counsel

How to reduce your external counsel spend and improve your relationship with your external counsel ... Continue reading

Legal Operations Essentials: The Legal Services Request Form :The gatekeeper to effective in-house legal function transformation

Effective LSRFs deliver quality instructions, allow IHLs to efficiently mobilise and generate valuable legal operations data that in turn drive continuous improvements ... Continue reading