I asked a similar question when I really came to understand that legal case/matter management offers few tools to help a lawyer do anything better. “Why isn’t matter management just project management?” I asked.
Well, here I am again, questioning what seems to be the status quo. Why isn’t project management really process management? As I survey the leading tools for project management, I find that they are great at aggregating project knowledge and dissemination of roles, responsibilities and timelines. But they don’t fundamentally help you do anything better. What they all lack is a focus on “process management.” In addition to the online project management tools that I am referring to, I also include Microsoft Project. Microsoft SharePoint is more about process management than Project is.
When we think about lawyers, primarily ones who work inside corporations, we see departments that run on process. Most of these processes are manual, paper intensive and cumbersome but they are effective on the margins. But why couldn’t they be better with technology?
Corporate legal departments have processes for everything — hiring law firms, terminating employees, collecting information about potential claims, collecting data about legal department costs, etc.
- A corporate legal department could automate and manage those processes as part of their primary project management functionality?
- The processes could be dynamically created, with custom forms and workflow added, in minutes?
- They could deliver those custom processes (forms and workflow) to anyone in their company without them having access to their project management system?
- They could deliver those custom processes in any manner they wish such as SharePoint, a company intranet/extranet or other applications?
It begs the question – Do legal departments need project management or process management? I think we need both, but my definition of project management now very much includes process management.
The harder part is trying to find a system that does both functions well (or at all). I couldn’t find it! But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Process management is foundational to Onit’s premium product scheduled to be released next month. Register today for a free trial and you’ll be one of the lucky few to get advance notice about our new product for both project and process management.