June 9, 2017

Lean Six Sigma at Your Firm: Transportation

by Debbie Foster, Affinity Consulting Group, LLC

Now that we are at the halfway point in our “Lean Six Sigma” series, I hope you have had the opportunity to find and fix some defects, overproduction, waiting and non-utilized talent! Today, we tackle the fifth waste: Transportation.

Transportation is all about the movement of information or materials from one place to another. Paper files tend to be at the heart and soul of transportation waste in a law firm. It all starts when deciding whether you are going to have, or continue to have paper files, and understanding what purpose they serve in the firm. There are quite a few challenges that go along with paper files: two people cannot be looking at it at the same time, they get lost, left at home, in the car, in the conference room, etc. When we ask professionals who work in firms that rely heavily on paper files where they waste the most time, the answer is often, “looking for paper files.”

So, think about your paper file situation. Do you really need paper files? If you say yes, then I would strongly encourage you to ensure there is nothing, except an occasional “original,” in a paper file that is not also accessible electronically. Why? The only thing more wasteful than keeping paper files is paying to store them. If you must keep them, make sure you can destroy them when the case is closed.

In addition to paper files, there is transportation waste in electronic forms as well. Think about those emails we all get where we have to scroll down and read the 10 emails below to get caught up, only to realize we should have been the one to get the original email and lots of time would have been saved. Or, how about having to update contact information in more than one system. All of these can be classified as transportation waste.