Seven Questions COOs Should Be Asking About Operations

With 25% of the population fully vaccinated, law firms can begin the planning phase of their return to the office. Here are the seven questions COO's should be asking in relation to office and administrative services as well as records and Information governance functions.   

  1. If the firm was not already, is the firm now prioritizing its digital transformation journey in case of a future pandemic-sized challenge?

    Many firms were caught flat-footed at the outbreak of the pandemic regarding digital mail and having their files in a digital format for ease of access.  Firms responded quickly with a multitude of patchwork solutions that may or may not work in the long-term or offer the needed security.  Has your firm implemented a more permanent solution?

    Need some guidance? Click here to request a copy of Mattern “How to Handle Records for a Successful Digital Transformation.”

  2. Does the firm have sufficient flexibility in its support services contracts to facilitate optimal operations, no matter what circumstances may change?

    Operational flexibility was certainly a lesson learned in 2020, but some firms learned that it cannot happen without the right contracts. Does your firm have the ability to “adjust” its equipment and support contracts if the firm’s projections on service/volumes are off?

  3. Is your firm correctly staffed and equipped for changes to its workplace model?

    A new workplace model (hybrid, hoteling, etc.) requires a new workflow and a new staffing model.  Are the pieces in place to make that happen?
  4. What costs should I examine that did not show any flexibility during the service slowdown associated with COVID?

    Real estate costs are on everyone’s minds -- but what about your off-site records storage charges?  Now is the time, with your digital initiative in place, to develop and implement an Information Governance plan with retention schedules to drive down the off-site volume and create a strategy to get out of the off-site business completely.  In the interim, create a competitive situation and decrease your off-site storage charges for immediate savings.

  5. Based upon new workflows, is the staff properly trained?

    The key for firms moving forward in this “new normal” is to leverage the most cost-effective resources to complete certain functions that do not require a high-level of expertise.  Is your staff properly trained to fulfill these functions in the most cost-effective manner?
  6. Should I bring outsourced services in-house or outsource inhouse services?  What is the most cost-effective way to deliver these services?

    Outsourcing done right is a great tool to have in your managerial toolbag; outsourcing done poorly, will probably get you fired.

    Here’s the thing: You also don’t have to outsource to have an efficient and cost-effective operation.  An unbiased evaluation of your support functions can tell you where you are at, where you can get to and the best path to follow.

  7. Should the firm examine their current cost recovery strategy and modify it in light of a new workplace model?

    Absolutely.  With the work from home option currently in place--and probably will be for the foreseeable future-- onsite copy, print and scan volumes have decreased.  Do you expand what you are recovering? Do you capture the at home volume? Do you adjust your rates?  

Law firm operations have changed. An industry-wide understanding of how firms are handling these changes, successful strategies in play, and decades of expertise in contract flexibility can be immeasurably useful.