Monday, February 22, 2010

Easy SEO Series - (tip #1) Link to your Web site from your blog

DuPage Attorneys - Moeed Saeed's Illinois  Worker's Compensation firm
As a small business owner, Web presence is of paramount importance to pulling in customers. However, perhaps more important, is creating a Web page that your customers can find. Increasing your page rank can be accomplished using many tactics. One of which is linking to your site from a blog. For instance, linking to my current site, DuPage Attorneys, which is my Illinois Worker's Compensation and Healthcare firm, increases my page rank in Google, Bing and Yahoo! Try this simple SEO (search engine optimization) technique and increase your visibility to clients.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Measuring Work For Your Business

Boost Your Bottom Line By Quantifying Your Work

Managing a law practice, like any other small business, presents challenges that the owner is not necessarily equipped to handle. Often, small businesses, such as law and medical practices, are started by professionals with very little training in business management, marketing and accounting. Despite lacking formal training, business owners find a way to pull it all together, but often at the expense of their time and work-life balance.

One of those challenges, that I recently ran across in the Law Practice Matters blog is quantification of your work. Why would a law practice owner need to quantify work? The answer really is fundamental to the lawyer's role as a business owner. Quantification means putting some sort of empirical value on your work to allow for greater predictability and accountability. Of course, increasing predictability and accountability enables the business owners to make the right changes to increase productivity, which ultimately results in greater profits.

Understanding the benefit of quantification is the easy part. So, how do you do it? Large and mid-size businesses have quantified work for a long time; however, that quantification never really made its way into legal departments. In my opinion, the nature of legal departments requires that they protect the confidentiality of the business. Frankly, that has prevented General Counsels from letting in experts in project management and business analysis from designing quantitative measurements of work. As an attorney, I can tell you that the legal profession has lost quite a bit of productivity because of this. Moreover, now that companies are in a pinch to squeeze more work out of every department, it probably would be worth while to take a look systems and processes that have been proven to work in other industries and business units.

Small business can take advantage of these systems in low cost ways without any technology investment. It boils down to the business owner taking the time to learn the system and stick to it. That will allow the business owner to take an honest look at productivity numbers and take bold steps to make positive changes.

I, personally, have implemented a low-cost Scrum solution at a $25 Million dollar marketing company's legal department. Scrum is a workflow management framework that worked wonders for software development over the past decade. Prior to implementing Scrum, the legal department at this particular client simply went down a to-do list to without any quantifiable metrics to improve productivity. Through Scrum, I taught the legal department to use relative measurements that can be tracked to time, thus making them quantitative. Based on the empirical data, the legal team realized tremendous improvements in its productivity. Moreover, the CEO and GC were able to identify bottlenecks almost immediately. Perhaps most importantly, quantifying work allows businesses to hire the right number of people without having people on staff "just in case" we get more work.

In exploring Scrum as a workflow management framework, small business owners should realize that Scrum is not a rogue system. In fact, software development, product development, and even the entertainment industry has been using Scrum very successfully for over a decade. Adapting Scrum to professional services firms, namely law firms, can result in low-cost, quick-turnaround gains in terms of dollars that stay in the business owner's pocket.

Moeed Saeed, Esq. provides law firms and legal departments with low-cost, sustainable solutions for managing workflow. Contact Moeed today for an evaluation for your organization to help realize quantifiable gains in productivity. E-mail Moeed at or call (630)447-9019.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting a Grip on Your Workflow

Inundated with the thousands of processes and software solutions, small business owners often find it daunting to change how they do business. However, taking a step back and looking at the big picture will often expose over-complexities and over-simplifications. So, how do you figure out what the correct balance is?

Try these four techinques to help you get a grip:

(1) Analyze how work requests reach your desk - Whether you are in the business of fixing legal problems or fixing health problems, take a step back and determine how work currently gets to your desk and what processes can be cut out. Draw a flowchart; although it may seem parochial, it will expose unnecessary complexities in your business process. Some small offices that I have worked with simply add on "things-to-do-when..." tasks to their existing process. Over time, these become cumbersome and inefficient.

(2) Figure out a way to measure productivity and start tracking it - Measuring productivity does not always have to be in dollars. But, let's be honest; the bottom line is what small business owners really want. However,tracking non-monetary metrics will help you figure out where improvements can be made to ultimately boost your bottom line. Although every business in unique, some common indicators of inefficiencies are time spent per client, complexity of work, risk associated with work, and predictability of work. Putting empirical values behind these indicators will help you get see hidden problems.

(3) What business goals are important to you? (e.g. productivity, predictability, visibility, etc.) - Focus on what is preventing you from taking action. If you cannot predict your work, you might be keeping on too much staff to handle work that may or may not come in. If you lack visibility, you cannot determine which clients are generating the most profit for you. If you cannot measure productivity, you cannot determine how many hours you should be working to reach your revenue goals. Instead, you work as much as you can and lose your work-life balance, which of course will lead to burn-out.

(4) Create a sustainable process to achieve your goals - Take a day out to plan a new process by walking through your process from marketing to fulfillment. It does not take much, but a little thought will go a long way. If you need to, hire a professional to help you through designing a process. The efficiency gains can be tremendous.

The point here really is to cut out the fat and streamline your business process in a way that is focused on increasing the dollars in your pocket. Focus your business around your core revenue-streams. Instead of creating new revenue streams, broaden and deepen the ones that you have.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Refining your Approach to Social Media

Refocusing social media to add real business value

As social media makes its inevitable march to mainstream business, many small law firms, astutely, are already establishing a strong social media presence before their competitors. Many firms argue that, although all of the benefits of social media have not been realized, staying ahead of the curve will keep them well poised to take advantage of any benefits that may materialize in the future.

The risk, of course, is that early adopters of social media may find themselves still looking for greater benefits to their firm in three years. That, however, does not have to mean there is not real business value in social media. To keep your social media investment productive today, refine your approach by focusing on these three business goals.

1. Listening to your Customers – One of most useful thing that service providers are finding about social media is that they can listen to customer feedback in a manageable way. Prior to social media tools, such as Twitter, customers and businesses alike were frustrated with the lack of any good option for conversing. From a business owner’s perspective, the exorbitant cost of establishing a forum for customer feedback prohibited.

For customers, support lines, e-mails and Web forms generally were frustratingly slow and unresponsive. Now, business owners can listen to what customers are saying about their business and join the conversation. Customers are talking about your business, so you should listen, and perhaps more importantly, join in. For example, engaging customers with Twitter provides an easy, public forum for you to respond to your customers, and it sure beats mass e-mails with a “do not reply” link at the bottom.

2. Increase your Web Presence – contributing to social communities has the peripheral benefit of increasing your searchability. Google indexes your social media content, including your Twitter posts, so Google results may link back to your Web site, Facebook, or LinkedIn profile. Leverage that knowledge to your advantage by making more likely that potential customers will find you when they are looking for your services.

3. Networking and Word-of-Mouth Marketing – Building peer relationships – Finally, think of your social media time as networking time in the real world. You attend real social events to build your personal relationships that may result in business sometime down the line. The same principle applies to social media. Although you cannot measure social media’s ROI in the same way you would traditional marketing, you can still use it to expand your social network and develop your word-of-mouth marketing. So, stick with your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter efforts even though you are not seeing immediate results in terms of business walking in the door.

Focusing on these three social media benefits will guide you to making smarter business decisions about social media. The obvious pitfall to avoid, of course, is wasting too much time with social media. However, on the flip side, you do not want to fall behind your competitors and lose the opportunity to maximize your social media benefits.