How to create a Data Strategy (A new step-by-step case study for Law Firms)


In this case study, I will share the process we recently implemented for one of our law firm clients looking to build on their Law Firm Foundation Data Governance Roadmap by creating their next Data Strategy.

The background

The firm recently published a new 5-year business strategy, and the more work being done on supporting the implementation of this plan, the more focus was being directed to how the firm managed its data.

The leaders of the data governance, enterprise architecture, records management, legal tech, data protection, and reporting teams were being inundated with requests for details of data and information which could support each of the working groups and to participate in more and more workshops to develop operational plans for the firm strategy pillars.

Using the data governance framework escalation mechanisms, it was agreed by the Data Governance Steering Committee that the firm was demonstrating readiness for a data strategy to draw together all the data-related elements which support the firm’s business strategy.

Having successfully established a data governance centre of excellence using the Iron Carrot Law Firm Data Governance Foundation Roadmap, the firm felt it was a natural next step to invite Iron Carrot to support the creation of its data strategy.

The process

A two-person team from Iron Carrot worked with the firm’s Data Governance Lead and key stakeholders to consult on, design, socialise, and approve a new 5-year data strategy to support the firm’s business strategy directly. This took six months from the first stakeholder meeting to the publication of the data strategy to the whole firm.

Gathering the stakeholders

The firm repurposed its Data Governance Steering Committee into a Data Steering Committee with accountability for the Data Strategy and firmwide data management activities.

Iron Carrot set up a working group of data owners, Partners, and key stakeholders from innovation, business improvement, and the firm strategy lead.

Input from the Firm Strategy and Technology Strategy

The next step was to identify and understand what had already been written about data identification, ingestion, storage, analysis, and usage as part of the firm and technology strategies. Some of this was explicit, and some were implicit, requiring the working group to consider how the inherent needs and requirements would be met.

Iterating and expanding the Data Vision

The firm created a data vision as part of the Law Firm Data Governance Foundation Roadmap process. With the data governance framework in place for several years and a broader appetite for a focus on data, Iron Carrot worked with the Steering Committee on revising and expanding the data vision to better represent what they needed to support the firm strategy.

Data Management Assessment

Using Iron Carrot’s 30-question framework to analyse the firm’s data management maturity, we identified the missing areas or the areas that needed more work to develop the capabilities to the maturity level the firm wanted to achieve.

Defining the firm’s Data Use Cases

An output of the firm strategy work was a clear set of requirements for data which represented Partner, lawyer and client needs. We helped the Working Group create similar requirements for business services and then translated both requirements into Use Cases.

Writing the strategy

Using all the inputs and the new data vision to guide us, we worked with the Data Strategy Project Team to document the new data strategy. This included sections on the need for action, the mission and scope, the business value, the key capabilities needed to realise the use cases, the mindset and behavioural changes required to change the firm’s data culture, and a high-level implementation and execution roadmap.

Identifying and prioritising actions

Working backwards from the vision and using the use cases to guide us, we facilitated further working group discussions to identify and prioritise a series of actions. These were grouped into themes so that the responsibility for delivering these actions could be directly assigned to the data owners, the IT team, the Data Governance Lead, and the Steering Committee.

The payoff

Iron Carrot helped the firm deliver a full Data Strategy document containing a cross-functional, cross-practice articulation of the vision, benefits, goals, objectives, initiatives, risks, and success enablers. The strategy document explained what everyone was trying to achieve and how it supported the firm strategy.

A clear direction for data

From a foundation of data governance which had already established the processes and responsibilities, the firm now had a data strategy which was concise, actionable, and understandable by Partners, Business Services, and IT. The KPIs and metrics developed from the use cases will help the firm measure its progress.

Support for the firm strategy

By ensuring alignment with strategic priorities, goals, and activities, the strategy focused on managing data as an asset and leveraging data for business value to enable the firm’s strategic working groups to meet their objectives.

Prioritised initiatives

Using the use cases as guides, the strategy included (high-level) scopes and priorities against a timeline for key data and analytics initiatives and activities . This will help the firm ensure that they are investing in the right data capabilities and technologies.

Final advice

Creating a data strategy is like creating a foundation roadmap. All the building blocks were in place across the firm’s other documentation, roles, and activities. Iron Carrot used its experience with law firms to help identify and analyse these components alongside the working group.

The remit and membership of the steering committee were vital in getting the data strategy approved, communicated, and implemented as one of the firm strategy deliverables. 

Would you like some help with data governance at your organisation?

We have developed a unique data governance road-mapping solution to help business leaders launch the proper foundation for data governance through our extensive data governance and information management background.

Our five-step road mapping process quickly helps law firms create a complete framework and plan for assuring the governance and quality of its data to realise the strategic goals.

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