We find out why many legal and conveyancing practices see value in the processes of agile project management.
Agile project management – or ‘agile’ as it’s most often known – has become something of a business buzzword, but don't let that put you off. Its ability to provide an overall picture of multiple projects simultaneously can make it ideally suited to the conveyancing process. We find out what you need to know from agile expert, Jasna Bratic of Think Agile Legal.
What is agile?
Put simply, agile is a project management system that works by breaking projects into stages. It requires teams to focus intensively on finishing each stage – in what is known as a ‘sprint’ – before assessing and modifying their work, then moving onto the next stage. In this sense, agile is iterative and incremental, with projects often becoming more streamlined as they progress.
Agile started in the software development industry but quickly spread to other industries. It was founded on the belief that traditional project management methods often failed because they were too complicated and relied too heavily on processes and tools.
Emphasising individuals and interactions, agile is based on a series of daily ‘stand-up’ meetings. Each team member discusses both what they’ve been working on and what they’ll be tackling that day. All developments across every project can then be mapped on a central board – whether physical or electronic – so that everyone can see how progress is tracking.
What are the advantages of agile?
Some law firms and conveyancing firms have started using agile as a method for monitoring workflow.
Jasna Bratic of Think Agile Legal says that’s partly because agile gives every team member transparency. They see how they're tracking compared to others, and how their work fits into the overall deliverable. They also get a feel for each task's level of urgency.
“Agile shows the business what each team is working on, and gives a clear picture of how much work is being completed over a period of time and by what section or department,” Bratic says. “It also gives the ability to see whether each team member has the right amount of work.”
Bratic says having this level of clarity over the workflow process can improve a legal or conveyancing practice's productivity and efficiency. It can also provide a framework to reinforce your value proposition by helping you explain to clients the work you're doing for them.
However, Bratic says to be successful, agile requires everyone involved to commit to being open and transparent about their work.
Why does agile suit the conveyancing process?
Bratic says the many moving parts involved in the conveyancing process make agile ideally suited to property law practitioners.
“Because lawyers and conveyancers tend to have a lot of matters on the go at any one time, agile can be a very good way of tracking each piece of work for each client.”
If a client takes up more time than normal, agile makes it easier to pinpoint where the hold-up is and why it’s happening. This can help you evaluate your pricing and streamline your processes.
"For instance,” Bratic says, “you may see that you have a number of similar tasks that you need to address. Certain tasks can be batched and carried out by one person or at one time and in that way create efficiencies.”
How can your practice get started with agile?
The easiest way to get started with agile is through an agile workshop that introduces all team members to the system.
Bratic says you can do this through an internal agile ‘owner’ or by engaging an external agile expert. From there, it’s time to set up your agile board, which will show all of your projects and how they’re progressing.
“Because no two teams are the same, the agile process becomes iterative for the team that’s using it,” Bratic explains.
How long will it take to implement?
The final ingredient you'll need is time. Bratic believes you’ll need to give it at least three months before you start seeing real results. "Be persistent and really commit to it over that time,” she says.
“After a while you won’t just see results, you’ll probably be surprised by what agile tells you about your workflow methodologies and value.”
Author: Ralph Grayden