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.


  1. Thanks for the shout out. I agree with you about legal departments -- most of them operate like law firm islands within a larger corporate entity.

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