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Building Management Systems during Rapid Growth: Australian Case Study

Foster Lawyers

Fosters Lawyers is a specialist law firm in Sydney.  Legislation prevents us from revealing specific details of the services they provide.  However, its relevant to know Fosters Lawyers is a high volume, low margin business.  The profitability of the business relies on quick and efficient service delivery and very careful cashflow management.

Their specialist skills and outstanding service had resulted in the business growing from 4 to 12 people in 18 months.  Demand had grown to such a point that it was outstripping their ability to deliver. This was starting to affect turnaround times and cashflow.  Growth was beginning to look like a burden rather than a blessing.

Fosters Lawyers Principal, Keith Foster, knew he needed better management systems and sought consulting support to make that happen.  Keith recounts his experience.

“We invited a number of management consultants to present to us.  Their presentations ranged from laughable to almost plausible.  I read about the achievements of Eyes Wide Open in the Law Society Journal and subscribed to their newsletter.  After receiving their newsletter for a few months, we spoke to them.  They were impressive. An initial business review session confirmed the issues we needed to manage if we were to continue growing.”

Management Requirements

A list of initiatives had been identified that would drive business success.

  • Have a clear plan for managing growth, including goals and budgets
  • Review our business processes and structure to become more efficient
  • Build a rigorous system for managing performance & cashflow
    Improve our risk management
  • Reduce workload and pressure on the Principal.

Eyes Wide Open consultant, Tim Goodlet, delivered these outcomes for the Fosters Lawyers team over a 2-month period. Tim structured an 8-step process for transitioning the business and provided hands-on help to ensure the team was not distracted from their day-to-day activities while the transition took place.

How to build Management Systems during Rapid Growth

The steps in Tim’s process were as follows.  A similar process can be used by most businesses that want to introduce strategic management systems.

  1. Determine specific business goals and production levels required to achieve those goals
  2. Assist with developing a financial forecast to determine the implications of growth
  3. Interview every team member to determine current practices within the business, “Interviewing team members was really valuable as it ensured everyone felt part of the process.  It ensured the process was transparent so we had no issues with rumours or misconceptions.”, says Keith.
  4. Tim then presented his recommendations on how the business systems and structure needed to change to achieve the business goals.
  5. Job roles and responsibilities were then clearly defined to ensure there were no overlaps or gaps in the system and that lines of communication and accountability were clear.  “This step has improved our efficiency and is reducing stress levels.”
  6. Establish Key Performance Indicators to monitor and motivate individual performance.
  7. Establish a clear cashflow plan for expanding the business and moving towards the business goals.
  8. Present outcomes to the team and gain feedback. 

“Our aim was to show them through the finished plan and gain their input. We were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic response.  And they are positive about the KPI’s which give them a sense of progress & achievement.”

The Business Results

  • The business is now processing 50% more claims each month. 
  • Stress levels within the business have reduced.
  • Staff are more conscious of our wins and successes, and are thriving on it. The systems are improving our risk management regime.  
  • Decision-making about expenditure in the business is easier and less stressful because we have a clear picture of future cashflow.

“We contacted Eyes Wide Open because our legal practice was undergoing extreme growth.  We needed improved systems and a general structure that could accommodate and encourage more of this growth, increase profitability and still ensure high quality work.  Tim quickly understood the issues and saw very clearly what needed to be done in all facets of the business.  He addressed our issues and concerns in an extremely effective and pragmatic manner.  He assessed our requirements and implemented a plan that addressed many areas of the business and has redefined the way our organisation operates.

The staff were all very comfortable with him and the process was surprisingly easy. The business profitability has improved and the operations are much smoother.  Tim’s work has made the business less reliant on me and clarified my growth decisions and priorities.  We still seek Tim’s input from time-to-time as the firm continues to grow and we will continue to do so as we find it extremely valuable.”  Keith Foster, Principal, Fosters Lawyers.

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