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What Would Accenture Do to A Law Firm’s IT Department?

February 8, 2013

First a disclaimer, given that I don’t work for Accenture or represent them in any way then of course I don’t know for sure what they would do. So this is really a guess – albeit an educated guess given that I did work as a Director in their Outsourcing division some little while ago.

So back to my ‘guess’.  Well Accenture have become rich by being outstanding managers, yes they have clever people and they work (very) hard but by and large it’s their management expertise that makes them money. In an IT outsourcing engagement they have two simple goals – effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is about providing exactly the outstanding service you want and need (and no more than this) and efficiency is about delivering that service at a minimum cost, time and effort.  This is not rocket science as you can see!

How do they achieve these two objectives? Structure, order and discipline. Now, for the past two years I have worked for, with and alongside a fair number of legal firm IT departments and spoken to a number of folk who work in other legal IT teams – and (tin hat on here) I see too little of the structure, order and discipline that is required to really deliver excellent service and get the absolute maximum from the firm’s IT investment.

Six Key Areas

Specifically I would expect Accenture to hit six key areas. In each of these areas I would expect the implementation of strong, industry standard processes. Process is the Accenture mantra.

  1. Portfolio Management. What are the projects that IT will deliver this year? What is the budget? Who owns each project (in the firm not IT) and at what stage is it (initiatives go through a number of ‘states’ as they are variously initiated, costed, approved, kicked off and signed off)? Which of the projects in on time and budget and which are not? There should also be a clear process for establishing and managing the portfolio with business managers prioritising and amending the schedule.
  2. Service Definition.  What are the services offered? What are the hours of operation and how many users use those services? What is the target availability and how quickly should each service be returned to service in the event of a failure? What is the process for managing a service request (e.g. “I need a new laptop”) and what are the target completion times?
  3. Service Management. Through the Help Desk how many incidents are recorded and how many service requests? How quickly do we respond to and fix incidents and service the service requests? What category of incident is most prevalent? Who do we report service to and how often do we do it? How are we trying to improve the metrics?
  4. Task Management – What tasks (project, system improvement, service request, outstanding incidents) are planned this week? What were achieved last week? How will we report on this and how will we improve our delivery rate in the future.
  5. Financial Management – where does every penny go? And I mean every penny. How can we spend less money next year, next quarter, next month?
  6. Third Party management – Do we get the service we pay for? How can we get a better service and ideally pay less to get it? Who are our key providers and when do we meet them? What is the reporting period and what do they report on?

To be clear, I am not advocating you go out and outsource IT to Accenture. However, establishing structured, ordered and disciplined processes will help you achieve the effectiveness and efficiencies that will take your IT service to the next level.

Finally, most in IT will look at the list and say “yes, we do that”.  Well two challenges – my list is made up of a number of questions, can you answer all of them fully? Second, are your processes in each area absolutely optimised?

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