Want to get more organized in the office? Try these tips
Improve your firm’s efficiency and profitability with these easy tips
Being organized isn’t just a luxury for law firms these days. It’s a necessity for firms that want to remain competitive in a constantly shifting marketplace. If your firm isn’t properly organized, documents may go missing or be misplaced, wasting valuable work time– and worse, potentially putting your client’s cases at risk. All it takes is a misfiled (or un-filed) document or a missed deadline to create a serious problem for both the firm and its client.
However, many of these calamities can easily be avoided by creating an organizational system for your firm– a series of goals and policies that can bring your firm closer to the most innovative and efficient workplace it can possibly be.
Cleaning out office mess is the first step toward getting organized
No matter how great your new organizational policies and procedures are, they likely won’t work effectively if your office is still messy. Even if you’ve just cleaned up recently, duplicate or unneeded paperwork, old or expired case files, and other unneeded paperwork and objects can seriously stack up in a short period of time. When attempting to getting rid of unneeded files, it’s a good idea to rely on a “one-touch” policy- meaning that you look at a file once, and decide whether to keep it, store it, or get rid of it on the spot. Avoid leaving a file at a desk or on a table and waiting until later to decide what to do with it. Generally, there’s no reason to have any files that aren’t pertinent to an open and active case inside your office. Older files can go into storage to be accessed when needed.
Create an organizational operating procedure for files and tasks
After destroying or disposing of unnecessary files, it’s time to organize the firm’s remaining files and paperwork. Current files may be organized alphabetically, by date, or in order of importance (or some combination of all three) depending on the specific needs of the firm and its clients. So that your firm has all significant organizational events on record, it’s a smart idea to create a set of procedures for each common task that your firm’s employees do on a day-to-day basis. This includes, opening, closing, destroying and archiving client files, ordering new office supplies, sending payments to employees, and contractors, accepting payments from clients, and many other routine tasks.
Consider using software to help employees become more organized
Many law firms now use software programs to do everything from tracking billable hours and billing clients to organizing documents and paying employees. Depending on the needs and resources of the individual firm, it may be better to purchase integrated law firm management software that is capable of handling all the above functions and more. However, some firms choose to rely on a patchwork of individual programs, each handling 1-2 functions. While each program may be the best for handling a certain task, firms may lose out on the synergy and efficiency generated by having all the law firm’s business handled under one digital “roof.”
Teach organizational skills and encourage good employee habits
While much of this article describes how firm policies can improve organization, the truth is that you cannot have a fully organized law firm without the regular actions of individual employees. Even the best employees may be slightly disorganized and may benefit from a training session or employee memo that suggests helpful habits and workplace policies. Additionally, it’s important that firm management encourage each employee to keep their space tidy, as well as to contribute to keeping the firm organized on a larger level.
Office layout and design may affect the organization of a firm
Finally, after considering a variety of other factors, you may want to make some slight adjustments to the layout of your firm’s office and furniture. Different layouts have different benefits and drawbacks, and making small changes could help your employees work as a more efficient team. If considering a move to a new office, firm management should closely examine the new office space to assess whether it’s likely to contribute positively or negatively to a firm’s level of organization.
Without being fully organized, a firm can’t fully exercise its competitive advantage in the legal marketplace. It’s important to keep in mind that being able to do something faster and more efficiently than other firms can provide a big leg up in a competitive industry– and being more organized can allow your law firm to do just that.
To learn more about how to improve your law firm’s organizational readiness, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.