Lowering Data Management Costs

Season 2 Episode 4

Welcome to Season 2 of the Law Firm Data Governance podcast, the data governance companion for law firm leaders who want to know more about implementing and improving data governance. Each week I’ll help you with your law firm’s data governance initiative by sharing something I’ve learned in my 20-plus years of working with information and data in law firms.

Over this season, I’ll explore law firm drivers for data governance and the benefits of data governance. So whether you’re making the business case to create your data governance capability or getting some support to get started with data governance, I hope this season helps set you up for success.

In this episode, I’ll discuss how data governance can help lower your firm’s data management costs by focusing on operational excellence and why it’s a powerful driver and benefit to add to your business case.

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Episode Transcript

Welcome to season two of the law firm Data Governance Podcast.

I’m CJ Anderson, founder of Iron Carrot, and I’m thrilled to be back with another season of the data governance Companion for law firm leaders who want to know more about implementing and improving data governance. Each week, I’ll help you with your law firm’s data governance initiative by sharing something. That I’ve learned in my 20-plus years of working with information and data in law firms.

Over this season, I’ll explore a law firms drivers for and the benefits of data governance. So whether you’re making the business case to create your data governance capability or you’re making the business case to get some help to get started with data governance, I hope that this season helps to set you up for success. This is season two episode four of the law firm Data Governance Podcast.

In this episode I’ll discuss how data governance can help lower your firm’s data management costs by focusing on operational excellence and why lowering your firm’s data management costs are a powerful driver and benefit to add to your business case. Since firms tend to grow organically over time, many have approached data in a disorganised way.
Individual teams implement data capture, quality technologies and integrations on a project by project basis. The result is a duplicated or overlapping approach to technologies, processes, data and staffing, which increases business costs in several ways. All of these can lead to a negative experience for data users, not to mention that poor data quality can trigger interdepartmental conflict and cause end users to disengage with products that your firm has invested a lot of time and money to deliver. There are three areas where this poorly-governed-and-managed data increases business costs.

Firstly, software and storage costs. If you have different pieces of software that do all the same or similar jobs, you’re paying multiple vendors for the same capabilities. ‘How many payrolls or CRM systems does a law firm need?’ for example. There is also the storage and maintenance overhead of redundant or overlapping data of being in several places. Secondly, process inefficiencies can cost a firm both time and money.

If data is being captured and entered more than once, manually manipulated, manually copied between systems. And yes, this happens more often than you know until you start picking under the surface. Or if data is generally squirrelled away in silos, these process inefficiencies exponentially increase. And this doesn’t just impact the teams that are managing that data. This is an impact on business intelligence, and on reporting teams IT teams and on the lawyers themselves.

All of which lead to the third area, because it’s not just wasted time. The process inefficiencies have a head count implication. How many people are employed to capture and manage the same data but for different teams or for different pieces of software? How many people are manually manipulating that data? Doing things like re-keying a spreadsheet report from a finance system into a credentials or a pitch system? So how can data governance help? Well, remember that data governance helps to ensure that data is usable, accessible and protected.

Effective data governance leads to better data analytics, better decision making, and improved operations support. Data governance ensures that the right people perform the right roles to manage and to leverage the firms data effectively. This includes making sure that accountabilities and responsibilities are documented and carried out, as well as acting as coordinator of cross functional conversations to create better order out of the firm’s legacy chaos.

This covers things like proper enterprise data architecture that can streamline the number of systems and help identify single sources of the truth for the most frequently used and reused datasets. Process documentation which helps identify the duplications and opportunities to automate those manual processes. Getting rid of the re-keying data into other systems. Carefully examining these opportunities can create great conversations about why established processes and solutions have not been streamlined before. And of course, standards and best practises make sure that a firm is implementing proper data management for the whole lifecycle of the data.

So the benefits in your business case to explain why data governance can help should talk about adopting data governance to make it easier to proactively identify these duplications of software and effort, as well as the required activities to streamline processes, technologies and teams. These efficiencies result in a lower data management cost for the firm because of decreased technology licencing costs, data management and integration activities/automation and potentially reduced headcount requirements.

Reduced costs are a great benefit to talk about because money is a tangible thing that can be documented and compared. Even if your stakeholders are uncomfortable with data, they will be comfortable talking about money. You can talk about the cost over time. Data governance is a marathon of years, not a sprint of months.

So that cost over time is about investing in data governance versus the ongoing costs of keeping things as they are. Having an objective related to costs makes money a powerful metric that can demonstrate the success or failure of your efforts to deliver lower data management costs to the firm over time. In short, there is no point in doing data governance for its own sake.

There has to be a benefit to the business in some way and a cost reduction is a significant benefit, even if it takes time to achieve. That will make stakeholders take notice because it’s one they can easily understand and compare to the other initiatives on the table. Having the proper accountabilities and responsibilities supported by standards and best practices, facilitating conversations and actions which can lower of the firms data management costs by addressing software, hardware and people financial costs as well as the time cost of inefficient processes, is the core of what data governance is all about.

Thank you for joining me for this law firm Data Governance Podcast episode. I hope you enjoyed it. Please share like and review this episode so that more law firm leaders can learn about data governance.

Join me next time for episode five: Increasing access to data. Make sure you never miss an episode by following Iron Carrot on social media if you’ve not already done so, and always please get in touch if you’ve got questions or topic ideas for future episodes.