Business processes don’t have to come at the expense of the practice of law, but they have to come

I found an old email this morning that references a 2009 McKinsey Executive Insight report about challenges facing corporations coming out of the economic crisis. I no longer have a link to the year-old report, but the excerpt from the email reads:

“Companies need to integrate marketing and sales function into the day-to-day operations of the organization and apply the same rigor to defining commercial processes and systems that they have long applied to manufacturing and other operational processes and systems. This “commercial transformation” can take many forms and involves 1) a concerted, multi-year effort to substantially upgrade the effectiveness of a company’s marketing and sales processes, including aligning top management around a forceful transformation theme; 2) driving performance improvement programs around 2-3 carefully selected commercial levers and striving to lead the industry on these levers; and 3) embedding the change through a comprehensive commercial operating system, comprising not only processes and tools, but also IT systems and performance management.”

If you filter through the jargon and are not put off by words like “commercialization,” “operational processes”and “sales,” there are some salient points from which law firms could benefit, particularly those that have made a heavy investment in marketing but are not sure they are getting the results they want.

First, law firm management and their marketing departments need to be directly aligned. Many firms still fail to give marketing a seat at the executive committee and make the much needed connection between strategic growth and market position.

Second, the old adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” remains true. Law firm marketers need benchmarks around which they can measure their success. Real process needs to be put in place to evaluate return on investment.

Finally, IT and marketing can no longer work independently. Technology needs to be an integrated into law firm marketing strategies. There are far too many law firm marketing directors out treat technology like a “project” that can be checked off on a things to do list. Technology is a part of doing business. Combined with the right people and processes, it is a tactic for raising awareness, a tool for developing credibility and the centralized resource for tracking results.

This is not to suggests that law firms need to undergo a “commercial transformation” at the expense of professionalism. But the economy has changed and the drivers for legal services are different today. Firms need to take a disciplined approach to the way the do business in addition to the legal work they provide clients. They cannot afford reactive marketing where there is a constant state of motion and very little measurable progress.

Posted on October 8, 2010 in Business Development, General, Knowledge Management, Law Firm Management, Marketing

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