We hear it all the time:
“I can’t have lunch; I’m slammed.”
“I would, but I’m wrapped around the axle.”
“I can’t train the new guy; I’m too busy.”
“I can’t make the game because I have a deadline.”
And the list of excuses about work goes on and on.
Let’s face it, eDiscovery is hard. We all know the challenges of working within and servicing the litigation profession and yet, we are still here. Times are tough, data is growing, and finding the people we need on our staff is like searching for a pink unicorn.
I have learned the hard way just how demanding our industry can be. I put in the long hours, skipped time with family, worked through every vacation and just about reached my breaking point. Fortunately, I learned a few things along the way that had I known 15 years ago, my life would have been much more in balance. As a leader, I try to leverage my experience to help my team and colleagues work smarter, not harder.
My secret formula? Process + Workflow + Technology + People = Balance
First, inefficient processes are the broken foundation that creates chaos in a business such as ours. Starts and stops, single-points of failure, and relying on that one person who remembers everything is a recipe for disaster. Evaluate the processes, find the waste, eliminate unnecessary steps, and create a system that works for you. Document and distribute processes and procedures to all staff, and make sure they understand those methods. Accountability will become much easier.
You have documented processes, but what is the workflow? How many people are touching, editing, and approving a given project? Where are all the places that the project sits and waits? Automate as much as possible to ensure that the ball keeps moving even when key staff are unavailable or working on other projects. Be sure to build in reliable tracking mechanisms throughout the process to ensure that all necessary information is available to everyone.
When it comes to tracking and workflow, it is important to leverage technology solutions to keep everyone in the loop and make information available universally. Transparency in projects creates a better and stronger working environment and reduces emails and phone calls trying to figure out what is going on. A centralized system is critical to reliable processes and smart workflow.
Finally, empower the people on your team to make appropriate decisions rather than create a bottleneck by making everything go through you. Allow your employees or teammates to take full responsibility for their job and be available to help when necessary. Also, cross-train other staff or junior members of the team to create a dependable bench. Scalability is challenging to do when only a couple of people have the skills and understanding to do a specific task. Be prepared by having a diverse team that can cover for each other in the event of vacations, illness, and turnover.
Is every day going to be a perfect balance of productivity and time at home? Probably not. But by creating an environment with the right technology, efficient processes, fluid workflows, and dependable people, you’ll be capable of accomplishing so much more while still enjoying the great little moments that life will bring you.