What Services Should You Blow Up

Inspired by Simon’s Guy Fawkes day post and still being in the midst of budget season I thought it appropriate to think, and write, about what services should be blown up. Indulge me by thinking about the services within a law firm – my perspective is from the library department, but let this inspire your inner stop sign.

Reports clarify that “missing stop signs are considered an emergency and are immediately replaced”; by analogy, stopping a non-value adding service is a way to ease pressure on people with heavy workloads – an immediate solution.

Thinking about my law library it is difficult to identify services that are non-value adding (yep, I have a wonderful, value based, and often over-productive team). What criteria could be used? Some ideas:

  • Is the service being done for one person, a small group, a large group?
  • Is the service provided internally leveraged by clients?
  • Is the service being done by another group or department?
  • Is the service something that could be automated?
  • Is the service a MWP?
  • Does the service take longer to request than to perform?

Calling out the last criterion: “Does the service take longer to request than to perform” this is clearly a call for a different approach – training. Training from library staff is not currently a budget line item.

Legal research training from library staff is a value added service and should by no means be blown up. It is done for everyone, can be leveraged to groups outside the firm. Legal research training specifically is not done by another group and cannot be totally automated – though there is some potential for that. Perhaps my budget model is what requires a Guy Fawkes approach?

Perhaps it is time for my budget to be less a cost projection by type of material collected and more of a reflection of the value added services and their real costs. Included in the value added services from a law firm library are items collected or subscribed to, but the ‘stuff’ we make available and hard costs associated are simply numbers that are easy to show, share, and compare apples to apples over last year.

Blowing up a road may have the effect that the approach to the required intersection is a four wheel drive jaunt through the ditch.

What service would you blow up?

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