Buy-in from above: The File Queen at ADDS on switching suppliers

Can you believe how amazing our scorcher of a summer has been, LPM readers? Now that the September issue of LPM is hitting the desks, it’s back to work!

We tend to find that so many projects get put on pause prior to the summer break.

One of the biggest challenges we find with implementing projects is getting buy-in and sign-off from the managing partners. When you have an issue or pain that needs to be resolved (causing you headaches every day), how do you convince managers at top level that you need change?

Recently, we have been helping a practice manager with exactly this issue. The pain was due to the firm’s current offsite record storage provider, with files not being delivered on time and no control at the legal practice level because of the absence of an online inventory system. The supplier was unwilling to work with the practice to move toward a paper-light office as orders had to be consistently chased. When a full file audit was requested they were told it would take a year to complete, and file destruction schedule reports couldn’t be produced.

The practice manager was at her wits’ end. Not only had she been dealing with a troublesome supplier, but the fee earners were venting their frustrations to her about the lack of control and accountability over the archive process – none of which was her fault.

When the practice manager first approached the file queen for a free-of-charge consultation, she made it clear that one of the greater challenges would be convincing the managing partner to change supplier. As it had worked with them since the practice opening and it had been the managing partner’s decision to use them, it was the firm’s preferred supplier.

So, here’s how we helped. First, we ran a full records management audit, documenting the whole process from start to finish and making recommendations for change. We triaged the recommendations for change just like A&E – red for immediate action, orange for immediate second stage implementation, yellow for less urgent, and green for non-urgent. This led to a single process-change document that could be presented to the managing partner efficiently and clearly in very quick time.

We made sure the recommendations for change were backed up with a warning of the dangers to process, compliance, business interruption and GDPR if no action was taken by giving examples of consequences relating to the day-to-day operations, finances and reputation.

Then, the ADDS supplier feedback form was distributed across the firm to everyone who was impacted by the service levels and processes from their current provider. The ADDS team designed this supplier feedback form some time ago, both for our continuous commitment to quality and also for projects such as these. If you would like a copy, please go to

Even though it took time to distribute this form and gather feedback, it was crystal clear that the supplier was causing challenges across the firm and the results could then be presented to the managing partner.

The approach of having external feedback and support when trying to change an internal process can have a huge impact. This, backed up with written feedback results from across the firm, made the managing partner sit up, listen and implement change. It was clear for the managing partner to see that it was the whole firm, not just the practice manager, experiencing issues with the supplier, along with the dangers that faced the firm if they decided to let this continue.


This column appears in LPM September 2018 – Table plans: get your free copy now.

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