A well-streamlined workflow can be compared to the engine in your car. When you drive, you’re not consciously thinking about the inner workings of your engine–how it causes your car to move forward. (If you’re like me, you’re probably spending that time in the car thinking about a difficult case.) Happily, the car runs without your having to think about it—and when it does break, your mechanic knows how to fix it.
This process is precisely what a systematized workflow should do for your law firm. Once it’s in place, you don’t have to think about it, and neither does your staff. It becomes the engine that keeps your business moving forward. Hours are logged, tasks are methodically assigned, prioritized, completed and documented. (And if the Bar Association ever wants to know what happened, you always know exactly where to get that information.) The trick, then, is how to streamline the process. Here are some tips to help out:
Determine What Needs To Be Done And Who Should Do It
A successful workflow starts with a task list, followed by a designation of who does what, and in what order. A number of project management programs can help this effort, making it easy to see and track tasks.
System Maintenance Is Key
Just as your car requires regular maintenance, your workflow needs to be regularly inspected: make sure things are getting done, and objectives are being reached. If mistakes are made, tasks delayed, other issues arise, those are all signs that you need to continue fine-tuning the process.
Document What Works
Once you’ve got a workflow in place that is consistent and effective, document the process–all the way down to specific tasks and job descriptions. The ultimate test of a successful workflow is to ask you could easily duplicate it. Ask yourself: Could you use this same system to open another branch of your firm?
Part of the process should include writing down the process, so you remember it later.
Your goal in streamlining a workflow for your firm should be that, once it’s in place, you don’t have to constantly think about it: it allow you to think about more important matters and to grow your business. For more details on the secrets of a successful workflow, check out my book, The DNA of the Autonomous Attorney.