Legal Teams - Stakeholder Management
All legal teams work in the interests of their (captive) client's needs. The trouble is, sometimes neither the legal team nor the client has identified exactly what that means. It does not stop there. Legal may have to consult and seek approval with a variety of internal clients. In a matrix environment, not everybody is working to the same plan.
Problem: A legal team was a critical step for the onboarding of new clients for a major financial organisation. With new clients the pressure is on to create a great first impression with excellent client service. However, sales teams were making promises to their clients about delivery times which bore no relationship with the realities of the situation: what other sales people had promised to other clients, the delivery capacity of the different internal stakeholders within the institution, including the legal contracts team.
What we did: We worked out the delivery capacity of the legal contracts team using historical data which yielded the key metrics and dynamics of the situation. For a given size of legal team it was only possible to keep under control a certain amount of live negotiations. These negotiations were taking a minimum amount of time (elapsed) and involved the lawyer in a minimum amount of hours worked. In many cases the negotiations were abandoned. On the other hand the business teams had set targets for how many new client contracts they must produce within a set period. The onboarding delivery chain involved many independent stakeholders required to approve contract content and their performance (or lack or it) was impacting completion times. We delivered a template of key rules to govern the contract request process, limit the flow of new requests, predict the outcomes and allow the sales teams to set expectations for their clients.
Results: Greater transparency within the institution about stakeholder responsibilities and the impacts of different departments on the results achieved. Stakeholders were playing their part or, if not, bottlenecks could be identified and escalated. The lawyers could work in an orderly fashion, on clear priorities and help deliver a better customer experience. This meant better predictability of outcomes and expectation management for clients. This produced a better use of lawyer time, less frustration and helped managed the workforce within a cost-restricted environment.
Top Tip: Organisations are sometimes creating more internal 'competition' than they are with external competitors. For a brilliant explanation of why managing processes across departmental boundaries is so crucial, see this TED Talk by Yves Morieux: