As a result of this study, BT expanded the types of tasks handed by a lower-cost
LPO (legal process outsourcer) from 38 to 76; these tasks include addenda,
contract summaries, nondisclosure agreements, RFPs, procurement review,
and contract generation, among others. Further, BT established best practices
documentation and “sophisticated triage rules,” which now guide its LPO partner
to manage and route all requests through a centralized web-based system that
also offers features for request and demand tracking as well as progress reporting.
These changes ultimately enabled the BT legal team to redesign itself for better
alignment to corporate strategy. While decreasing total headcount from 78 to
40, the in-house team relocated senior lawyers to Asia and the United States to
better advise transactions in these growth markets while lowering transaction
expenses. Further, the slimmed down in-house team spent more of their time on
high-value transactions — 21 percent of total in-house work in 2012 as opposed
to 13 percent in 2012 went to deals exceeding £50 million.
Seek to understand why problems occur
Root cause analysis was developed in the 1940s by the US military to determine
why complex systems and equipment failed, and uses deductive reasoning to the get to
the root of a problem. This is based on the idea that system failures don’t just happen
randomly but can be traced to well-defined causes. In conducting root cause analysis,
the project team needs to examine how root causes were determined, what techniques
were used, and how confident they are that all root causes have been identified and
validated. When causes of variation are not identified down to the root cause level, this
results in less-focused improvements. In addition, some root causes of variation can be
missed, resulting in improvements that fall short of expected results.
In conducting root cause analysis, the objective is to understand the actual causes
of a problem and to determine which of those causes can be mitigated and which
are outside the control of the law department. This exercise helps prevent process
improvement teams from jumping to solutions, and instead fully leverage what they’ve
learned through VOCs, value-stream mapping, and data collection to understand the
cause-and-effect relationships across various factors that affect the business problem.
Several tools can be used in cause-and-effect analysis in legal environments.