If we could double the productivity of every person in the office, our prosperity will increase dramatically. The results will entail increased client satisfaction, higher remuneration for employees, bigger profits, better cash flow, thus growth in many aspects.
With better use of technology and software as well as changes in management techniques, it is possible to double or even triple the productivity of most members of an attorney's firm.
People are motivated to perform better for various reasons. If they are properly trained, appreciated and remunerated, excellent performance can be expected. Performance and productivity can always be increased and one important way to achieve this is by linking remuneration with performance. Computer software has made the measurement of fee performance easy and quick:
* By creating a fee account for every employee (yes everyone), where the fees generated by that employee is automatically recorded. Everyone is a fee earner.
* By creating a group or groups for one or more fee earners where the fee performance of this group is measured.
* By creating a report which calculates the gross fees (after the deduction of VAT) of individual fee earners as well as groups for a day, week, month or any other period.
* Abovementioned report calculates the payments made in respect of fees and expenses for each fee earner and group for the period under review.
* The report also calculates the nett cash flow contribution of each fee earner and group.
* By paying remuneration as percentage of the nett cash flow contribution of the group or fee earner. Different fee earners will have different percentages. Usually a basic salary is paid and on top of that there is a monthly bonus of between 5% and 35% of the nett cash flow.
The result of this is three fold:
* Each fee earner tries his or her utmost to collect outstanding fees owing in respect of accounts which contribute to his or her cash flow.
* Each fee earner is motivated to increase his or her fees. By increasing fees, performance is improved. To improve performance, better use is made of technological aids.
* The salary liability of the firm decreases if the cash flow lessens.
An employee is also motivated to perform better by setting realistic targets in production and fees. Production as well as fee targets can be accurately and closely monitored by a proper software system. Production targets comprise of the number of matters handled as well as the number of tasks performed daily by each employee. Discussing targets with employees regularly on a monthly basis, is an essential task of the firm's management and can lead to spectacular improvements in productivity.
A very important and essential instrument in increasing productivity is the keeping of an electronic diary. It is possible to triple the daily output by making proper use of such a function. The basic principle is to avoid working from a stack of diarised physical files. All the files are listed on the electronic diary list and employees work through the files one by one dealing with each user's matters. In most cases the necessary actions can be taken by making use of the information already available on the computer. The physical file is used or required only in exceptional cases. The employee has instant access to the history of the relevant case, therefore enabling him or her to see the last action taken, to read the notes or the most recently created document, or to look up ledger entries (to name just some of the available information), and lastly enabling the employee to make a quick, accurate analysis as to what the best course of action will be, and then executing it. The amount of time saved by this simple process will be tremendous.
There are a number of other ways in which a computerised system can increase productivity, by reducing the time taken to complete a task. To name one example, any bookkeeping transaction (such as a payment to a client) can be requested electronically from an employee's computer in a matter of seconds. Further examples will be discussed in a future article. If you require any further information, feel free to contact me.
Chris du Plessis
MD of Lexpro Systems and Practicing Attorney in Pretoria
Tel: 012 341 1939