The objective of the Define phase is to clearly articulate the business problem through
the lens of the client’s needs and requirements. Using this information, the team will
define the current state process and as well the goal of the process improvement
project. Ideally, the team elicits from stakeholders a concrete sense of the pain points
experienced in the current state as well as what an ideal future state would look like.
Define the problem
The initial problem statement should have a concise but complete description of
the issue at hand, a specific problem aligned to high-level business objectives. Most
importantly, a problem definition should seek to establish a quantified baseline for
current performance, and it should not include any assumptions relating to causes or
Where such assumptions exist, they should be noted as hypotheses to be tested and
validated during the Measure and Analyze phases of the process improvement project.
The problem definition should seek to identify gaps between the law department’s
current performance and internal client expectations, and seek to quantify the financial
impact of any such gaps.
Examples of problem statements
1. The average cycle time to clear conflicts and open a new client/matter
number is eight days resulting in potential risk to an internal client in the
firm not being able to address the immediate needs of an existing external
client until the matter is cleared and open. Additionally, time worked
before a client/matter number is open is never recorded or recorded to an
incorrect number, often resulting in lost revenue, rework, and inefficiencies
in moving the time to the correct client/matter number.
2. Thirty percent of all e-bills are rejected upon first submission. This
results in client budget cycles being missed as well as incorrect forecasting
causing erroneous client reporting and budget management. Additionally,
rejected invoices result in rework and inefficiencies that are costly in time
and resources. Delayed invoices result in delayed payments which result in
lost revenue estimated to be $x for the firm.