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Gimbal's Tip of the Week

The Lean Law Firm Blog

E215: DMAIC - Learn the 5-step approach we use in every process improvement project

process improvement Jan 10, 2024

You can’t build a law practice you love if your processes are grinding you down. If routine work takes too long or seems too complicated, it’s time to think about improving HOW you work. And as usual, we have a process for that!

We take a consistent and disciplined approach to every process improvement project we undertake here at Gimbal. We call it the Practice Accelerator Framework. Today, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to share our approach. It’s the exact approach we use with our own clients, from the largest law firms and in-house teams right down to the solo and small law firm owners in our Practice Accelerator Coaching Group.

Your Tip: Put some process in your process improvement. Use our 5-step approach to improving your business and legal processes. 

The Practice Accelerator Framework is Based on DMAIC

What’s DMAIC, you ask? DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It’s a Lean Six Sigma methodology that we have adapted to the legal industry. We’ve built our Practice Accelerator Framework around it, teach it in our productivity and efficiency workshops, and use it in every process improvement project with our clients. Following a consistent, step-by-step method ensures we (and they) identify and address the root causes of the process inefficiencies, wastes, and frustrations that prevent lawyers from delivering their quality services in less time and at less cost. 

Here’s how it works: You start by defining the nature and scope of the process (Define). Then you establish your performance baseline (Measure) and work to identify the underlying reasons behind the inefficiency and waste in your current performance (Analyze). Next, you brainstorm for solutions to those root causes, prioritize your improvement ideas, and test them, before implementing the ones that work (Improve). Finally, you manage and sustain your solutions (Control).

At every stage, there are tools you can use and tasks that you must accomplish. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to cover the core elements of DMAIC and how they come together in the Practice Accelerator Framework.

Why use the Practice Accelerator Framework?

By following our process improvement framework, you can overcome the urge to jump right to a solution without understanding the root cause or even having a plan.

This is important for people working in law. We tend to be very results-oriented. The pressure to deliver definitive answers or complete transactions is high. However, when you apply legal, solution-oriented thinking to process improvement, you tend to focus on what you assume is the answer to what you think is the problem. You treat the symptoms, while the real cause lurks underneath, ready to raise its ugly head another day. The Practice Accelerator Framework slows you down. It ensures you’re thorough. It helps you target the actual problem…not the problem you think you have.

We know it can be challenging to decide which processes need to be improved, let alone actually improving them on your own. To help lawyers work less, achieve more, and have time to enjoy their success, we created the Practice Accelerator Coaching Group.

Throughout, we rely on the Practice Accelerator Framework and the tools we’ve adapted from DMAIC. Why? Because they work. 

Your Action Item: Identify one process in your daily work that you’d like to improve, and use the Practice Accelerator approach. The easiest way to think about it is with these five questions:  

  • Define: what does the client want or need?
  • Measure: how do we work now to get that result?
  • Analyze: why do we do it that way?
  • Improve: how can we do it better?
  • Control: is our new process delivering what the client wants and are we following it?

Then tune into the next few weeks of tips to learn about the tools to use and the pitfalls to avoid at each stage of DMAIC We’re going to talk you through the entire thing. By the end you’ll be approaching every process improvement project in a new way. 

Do you want help improving the processes in your firm? Do you want to join a group of attorneys who aspire to create financial freedom and the lifestyle they want for themselves and their families? Are Interested in monthly live support for you and your law firm as you work through process improvement and growth strategies? If you’re ready to take action in 2024, track your progress, and have accountability along the way, then join our Practice Accelerator Coaching Program. We’ll help you increase your revenue without burning out with our proven formula.

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