Metrics are an essential tool for in-house legal teams, bringing data into the decision-making process. So how can metrics transform your team’s legal ops strategy?
It’s taken a while for in-house legal departments to start talking about metrics, but now the conversation is picking up. Legal teams are beginning to realise the value metrics bring to the decision-making process.
As one of CLOC’s Core 12 Competencies, “Business Intelligence” focuses on making better decisions through the use of data. CLOC says the current reality is that in-house departments make minimal use of data and metrics, often struggling to access or identify the right data, and/or lacking the culture to make consistent use of analytics. Yet the alternative is an organisation that’s managed and guided through data, not intuition, and uncovers hidden trends, new efficiencies, and focuses on the team’s clear and measurable outcomes that make a difference to the business.
Legal teams are realising that while other parts of the business such as finance and sales have technology solutions capturing structured data in a system of record, legal seems to be surviving using a piecemeal approach of spreadsheets and email.
Of course, experience, intuition, and qualitative information all play a key role in a legal team’s toolkit, but there’s also a place for decisions based on fact – that is, the data.
The thing is, the data’s all there, it’s just a matter of structuring it, surfacing it, and using it in a meaningful way – by using metrics.
How do metrics make a difference?
Metrics give data context. But metrics are only useful if they support the strategic direction of the organisation – otherwise they’re just another set of numbers.
Using the right metrics brings value and offers new solutions to areas such as:
- prioritising workload – how should we use our resources?
- managing external spend – what type of work do we want to outsource?
- streamlining or automating manual processes – how can we use our time on higher-value legal work?
- managing risk – what is our appetite for risk?
The magic of metrics begins to appear when the findings are analysed, reported on, and used to inform the decision-making process. It’s then that the impact of informed decisions is evident across not only the legal department, but also across the wider organisation.
With improved transparency, the real value of the legal department is shared with the wider organisation. Decisions are more impactful, as they’re backed by rich, real-time data. There’s improved productivity with a greater understanding of the performance of the in-house legal team, including the workflow, the type of work being done, and any areas that need addressing. Both internal and external spend is optimised, with a more comprehensive understanding of outsourced work.
In order to make the most of your metrics, they need to be accessible, presented in a compelling and user-friendly way, and displayed in a dashboard that’s personal to your legal department’s activities.
How mature are your metrics?
For the most part, legal teams currently use data and metrics to see what’s happening, and create basic reports on what’s happening in their department.
But so much more is possible.
While there’s still a way to go before data and metrics appear in real-time and are used to create forecasts, identify trends, and make decisions about the future of legal, now is a great time to start the journey by starting to make better decisions using metrics.
For a more comprehensive guide on key metrics to measure and how to use them, download our whitepaper “Metrics for in-house legal teams”.