Legal Procurement… Tired of the Status Quo?
By Reda Bennani: Consultant
There has been much debate, in the legal sphere, about the emerging technologies and the panoply of innovations embracing the practice. Law firms are looking for pathways and routes that can sustain net income and manage legal and corporate spend. Yet Procurement and Purchasing solutions are trailing far behind in mindshare.
So first, let’s better understand the concept.
In a traditional business context, the biggest source of cost in organizations is procurement of capital items that are needed to run the everyday operations. Purchasing solutions roles are hence well- defined as cost saving drivers. They deploy analytical tools that keep track of firm’s spending and overall management of vendor relationships and contracts.
There is unanimity that when managed effectively, procurement can deliver substantial benefits. As we know, the law firm business model is different. While other industries benefited from the harmony of Finance, IT, Six Sigma lean processes and procurement, decision makers within law firms don’t see how the benefit to their bottom line. They are focusing on the lucrative single unit of the “ Magic Billable hour”.
While many would think of it as an eye opening process, many law firms are still unwilling to implement metrics that keep costs down. Replacement of paper forms, spreadsheets, and email with online tools, workflow and reporting metrics that raise quality and productivity levels within the firm is a distant pursuit. In concert many law firm decision makers would argue that cost control processes would be a burden for employees with excessive controls for low value items.
Within a typical procurement solution communication is subject to a certain pre-defined standards, and this is, in my view the missing dimension of the whole subject, the existing solutions need an intermediary. One who can support both parties to achieve the desirable goals. Negotiation of fees need to be automated to a certain extent , but keep a subjective human implication that is unique to the legal industry, owing to the fact that clients want commercial and economic values while forging a solid relationship for the long term.
The current procurement process within law firms, hmmm, actually there isn’t one… you might ask why? Because it has always been that way , and there is A MUST for IT solution providers as well as decision makers within the industry to cooperate together to make procurement part of the law firm mentality, say, philosophy and that requires a real input from CHANGE MANAGERS!