“After our successes with the institutional panel, we tried to fast-track other firms into the way
we were doing things, which was almost impossible to achieve effectively,” she says. “Rather,
it needed to happen in stages, so that we could learn the lessons along with our firms and
build the mutual trust that is key to success.” She notes that she also would have done more
explanation and promotion of the value-based approach internally at Bendigo, within the legal
department and the lines of business, to overcome early resistance to the change.
She describes a current cadre of external providers who have developed innovative offerings
as competitive advantages within a shrinking marketplace due to the increased insourcing
of corporate legal work. It’s a buyer’s market for in-house counsel ready to
experiment with new ways of working.
“Clients are spoiled for choice, but fear they may actually have to commit for longer or pay
more for a given matter. They are nervous, because they don’t know what metrics to use. The
bottom line is that they may make mistakes on individual matters, but even with those, will
pay substantially less across their entire portfolio if they move away from hourly rates. That’s
because value-based pricing forces the good planning and communication and disciplined
execution which is what really renders the benefits. The resulting continuous improvement
compounds those benefits over time,” Polczynski says.
Her best advice? “It can be difficult to get started, out of fear of making mistakes. Try a new
arrangement with a firm or provider you trust, as a buffer for mistakes. If you just get started,
you’ll learn, and even with some mistakes you can do much better overall,” she says.
CONCLUSION: THE IMPORTANCE OF MEASUREMENT
In an era when Big Data is getting a lot of buzz, legal executives should not overlook the power
of “small data” to get started on value initiatives, and to gain momentum.
A way to establish value strategies is to survey the business side about the relative priority
of legal services, unmet needs, and the satisfaction with service delivery. Targeted client
interviews and surveys yield the combination of qualitative and quantitative data that inform
legal department plans to innovate in the provision of legal services, as exemplified by the
work at Staples Australia and New Zealand.
Is “doing more with less” what is needed most? Or is it more important to turn around
contracts faster to drive value to the bottom line? Both imperatives can be met with a process
improvement program to gain efficiency, such as those conducted at Telstra and HPE. In
turn, that program starts with measuring how long things take under current processes, and
mapping the process to find ways to eliminate time-consuming steps. Each practice group
at Westpac undertook process improvement activities that resulted in more than 27 distinct