Crafting an Effective Strategy is an ITLA 2009 executive track session with panelists Greg Kaple, Senior Partner of Integrated Management Services, Inc. and Ash Banerjee, CIO of WilmerHale. I am attending the ILTA 2009 annual conference. This is a real-time blog post. 

Ash explains where WilmerHale strategic plan is today. 2500 people, 12 offices, 1000 lawyers. Ash at firm about one year, came from music industry. Started with assessing needs: practice heads, admin managers; met 70 people around the firm. Collected benchmark data from throughout the firm. Distilled a lot of information into key needs and issues, along with plan of what to do about each. Summarized to 3 pages – short is key. Distilled this to a bulls-eye target: governance process in center, surrounded by platform stability, then surrounded by (1) knowledge and content managment (KM and CM), (2) litigation support, and (3) admin support. Security surrounds the rest.

Achieving goals required a lot of change. Clarified IS role: leverage cost effective tech-based solutions, specifically, deliver solutions, tech services, and info and research. Note that platform / service delivery is distinct from solution and from info and research. Changed organization to align delivering on these goals. One big change was to move part of IS from an operations to a consulting organization. Created a team of 7 consultants; hired 5 from outside and 2 from inside. A lot of incumbents did not fit into new organization so hired quite a few new people into management team.

An internal IS consultant is assigned to each major practice group. This person is the IS advocate for that practice group. He or she has to understand that practice / business and how tech can meet new and even unarticulated needs.

Processes supporting new strategy include: Implemented a lot of metrics to determine if IS was delivering as it should. More rigorous performance management plan. Projects over certain dollar threshold require charters that formally justify. Governance process for IS includes a tech committee (“Steering Committee” with rep from each practice group and senior admin staff) and a project review board that signs off any new project. Service change ‘board’ reviews systems changes before executing.

Developed vision, principles, and roadmap for each of the major initiatives. This has been very effective in getting partner buy-in.

Project execution needed to be predictable. A project management office put together standard frameworks. IS applied service levels to measure to project. Metrics include lead times, effectiveness of changes, and number of projects (with number green, yellow, and red).