Increasingly, legal operations teams are rolling out KPI programs - operational metrics focused on understanding performance - in earnest. Generally speaking, operational performance management is far less mature in legal than in many other business disciplines. However, the figures below demonstrate, the obstacles to reporting strike right at the heart of operational excellence – you can’t master what you don’t know how to measure.
We've been tracking data on legal operations trends for years, and recently, we asked the Hyperion Research benchmarking community, “What is your greatest obstacle to producing quality, value-added reporting for your organization?” (Fig. 1). The top three responses were surprising given that just one year ago the top answers to that same question were dramatically different. Legal operations professionals indicated that a lack of training or skill of staff is the top obstacle to meaningful reporting, followed closely by a lack of well-defined metrics and a lack of budget.
When compared to the same metric in 2018, a clear shift in legal operation management starts to emerge. Just a year ago, legal operations professionals defined their biggest challenges to operational analytics as a lack of metrics, lack of tools, and lack of data (Fig. 2). But a lot has happened in a year. Legal operations as a discipline has both grown and matured in a relatively short time, evidenced in no small part by the growth of CLOC membership to over 2,400 members in 2019. It seems that as legal operations disciplines mature, we have begun to address the fundamentals - where to get the data for performance analytics and how to use it. As the profession moves up the maturity curve, we are witnessing a new set of challenges begin to emerge.
One other important dynamic to point out in this year's benchmarking results: while prior surveys asked respondents to identify all of the obstacles they face in developing metrics, this year's survey asked them to identify their single greatest challenge. This is an important distinction, as this year's results not only demonstrate the preponderance of professional challenges, but also interweave the elements of priority, effort and momentum. In that context, the notion that legal ops professionals most prioritized the challenges of human capital presents an important sense of gravity. Today more than ever, the challenges to meaningful reporting and intelligence-based decision-making strike right at the heart of operational excellence – you can’t master what you don’t know how to measure.