Delivering Value and Applying Lean Concepts to Service Professionals

Our LSSE Senior Consultant and Strategic Advisor, Jerry Rosenthal, was just published in LegalTrek’s "Between Mediocrity & Success: A Lawyer's Guide". Jerry has been a part of Lean Six Sigma Experts for over a year and his industry experience has been an invaluable contribution to the company.

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Jerry has worked with law firms and in-house counsel over the past several years and discusses how to apply Lean and Six Sigma for lawyer’s process improvements. Those familiar with Lean and Six Sigma view it primarily as a way of cutting costs and focusing on ways to eliminate waste and variation. What Jerry explains is that Lean and Six Sigma are truly about focusing on adding customer value and forming long term relationships which provide more opportunity for companies. Longtime customers are more valuable, and to obtain longtime customers you must give them a reason to keep using your services.

In the current economy, traditional business models that many service companies use are not effective. Today it is all about reducing cost and increasing quality and service. Law Firms, for example, are not traditionally concerned with value and quality, however it is important to adapt your business model to include adding value to a client as well as to the firm. Benefits will be seen once companies take a different approach to their business model and find areas that can be improved to provide better service.

Process Improvement practices are all about improving customer value and in order to achieve high value, it is important to emphasize waste reduction. Those familiar with Lean Six Sigma know the generally accepted eight types of waste: Transportation / Inventory / Motion / Under-Utilization / Waiting / Over-Production / Over-Processing / Defects.

In his chapter, Jerry discusses how under-utilization and over-processing can hinder the customer experience and their overall perceived value. Law Firms, and businesses of all kinds, need to make sure they are utilizing their staff to their full potential. What about over-processing by having too many people review and edit one document? Multiple review cycles are not always valuable processes and could be considered non-value added activities. Think about how companies of all types handle accounts payable and accounts receivable? How do you ensure that all checks and balances are in place with a minimal amount of document handling / filing, etc.?

In addition to the accepted eight wastes, Jerry identifies another form of waste, lost history. If decisions are made and documents are not archived correctly or some of the decision makers leave, it can take a long time to arrive at the same decision, or if they reach a different decision they then become inconsistent. This is an issue for engineering firms, hospitals, law firms and pharmaceuticals, and many other businesses where historical records are important for revisiting decisions or making new ones.

Waste affects companies in all services and industries, many are simply unaware that their processes need improvement. The important factor for companies is to find a way to increase customer value. If your company is being wasteful with its activities, then it is difficult to provide the best value to clients, and more difficult to obtain new ones.

To learn more about how sources of waste could be affecting you, check out “Between Mediocrity & Success: A Lawyer’s Guide”:

LegalTrek: Between Mediocrity and Success: A Lawyers' Guide

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