SkillsScorecard Blog

SkillsScorecard and Managing Partner Forum to launch Management Assessment Tool

SkillsScorecard and Managing Partner Forum will shortly commence development of an online assessment tool capable of being deployed at Board and C-Suite levels.

Based on the highly successful performance management system that SkillsScorecard has been implementing for over six years in law firms, the Management Assessment Tool will a first for the professional services sector.

The tool will address a shortage of suitable tools to help leaders and management teams to assess their overall and individual capabilities. It will be suitable for roles such as MP, senior partner, COO, CIO, practice group leader, and finance director.

Ray D’Cruz, CEO of SkillsScorecard believes the collaboration will be beneficial for firms.

“By collecting data from senior leaders on effective performance, and combining it with historical research undertaken by MPF into management performance, the quality and specificity of the benchmarks will be exceptional.

“We’ll be aiming to give people insights about their role, performance and opportunities for improvement that cannot be provided anywhere else.

The tool is due for launch in early 2014.

For more information, contact SkillsScorecard or MPF.

SkillsScorecard to sponsor ALPMA’s 2013 National HR Workshops

November 13, 2012 - SkillsScorecard News

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SkillsScorecard is pleased to announce that it will be the national sponsor for ALPMA’s 2013 National HR Workshops.

These Workshops are a highly interactive one-day session for HR professionals in the legal sector. They address challenges facing firms and are a great opportunity to share knowledge and connect with peers.

Kriss Will is facilitating the sessions in 2013 and will undoubtedly bring her considerable knowledge, skill and humour to the Workshops.

Stay tuned also for the Hot Issues in HR survey which will be coming your way shortly and will be used in the formation of the Workshop agendas.

The 2013 dates:

Adelaide – Tuesday 5th March

Sydney – Tuesday 12th March

Brisbane – Thursday 14th March

Melbourne – Thursday 21st March

We look forward to seeing you there!

MPF Awards for Management Excellence 2013 launched

November 6, 2012 - SkillsScorecard News

The 11th Annual MPF Awards for Management Excellence will be held in London on 6 March 2013. The MPF Awards recognise professional firms are the best managed in the world. The awards feature multiple categories across the four domains of  leadership and business strategy; supporting people; commerciality and client service; collaboration across the firm and with external stakeholders.

These Awards offer tremendous validation for outstanding professionals and team within the firm and more broadly across the peer group. Over the years we’ve seen HR and Learning team get the recognition they deserve for introducing effective, innovative programs that have helped their firms evolve and thrive.

If your HR or L&D team has introduced an innovative and effective change, and can demonstrate the benefits of the change, then you should consider submitting an entry for one of the supporting people categories.

Though the Awards are in their 11th year, the 2013 Awards will usher in two very significant developments. First, the Awards will be open to all professional firms across the world (previously the Awards were confined to Europe). Second, the Awards will be integrated into the International Management Excellence Summit 2013, in association with Harvard Business Review and the Financial Times. The Summit will take place during the day and be followed the same evening by the Awards.

MPF is a member-based group that supports the professions to progress and develop – and ensures that good management gets the recognition it deserves. The ongoing globalisation of the professions highlights the importance of being connected to MPF and its network. There are numerous membership options for firms.

For the fifth consecutive year SkillsScorecard’s Ray D’Cruz will join the international judging panel for the Awards.

More information about the Summit and the Awards can be found on the MPF website.

Clients choose well-managed firms – and HR matters

Ray D’Cruz:

According to a recent report, 54% of clients say it is an essential pre-condition for selection that their advisors be well-managed. To put that another way, more than half of the clients surveyed will not instruct a firm they consider poorly managed.

That’s the first revelation that hits you between the eyes are you read the Effective Client-Adviser Relationships Report 2012, produced jointly by Managing Partner Forum, Meridian West and the Financial Times.

The report, which is freely available, provides a number of other significant insights into the dynamic professional services sector that range from management priorities to commercial awareness to adding value to training and knowledge management. In an overall sense, the report will make the reader question the long-held division in management authority between the partners and management. How sustainable and sensible is this in the eyes of clients?

From our perspective, the report provides some very relevant information for firms considering the business case for Performance & Planning Systems (PPS) and Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Particular points worth noting from the extended report (there’s also an Executive Summary available) include:

  • When identifying management priorities, the most significant gap in perceptions about priorities relates to investing in technology and systems: 44% of clients consider this to be important while only 18% of managing partners consider it important.
  • Clients want commerciality. Firms seem to know this with 87% of firms saying they need to develop a more commercial skill-set in addition to their technical competencies. Surprisingly though, only 36% of advisers receive training on business and commercial issues. And 32%, receive no training in client service, business or commercial, project management, sales and pitches, financial analysis etc.
  • One quarter of firms are not assessing non-technical competencies in performance reviews. Given the stated importance of these areas by clients, and the likelihood that all are conducting reviews, that’s a concern.
  • For Asia-Pacific firms, some clear differences emerge: attracting and retaining talent and training best practice are uniquely strong priorities in this region, probably underlining the strong economic performance the Asia-Pac region relative to Europe and North America.
  • Asia-Pacific firms say that appraisal and reward systems are not adequately linked to commercial, non-technical skills.

These are some of the relevant insights for our clients from the report. What it means for HR and Learning could be the subject a more detailed discussion, but the report would appear to have the following implications, at least:

  1. Clients want to know that firms are properly managed (including in the areas of training and performance) so HR having a seat at the management table is a non-negotiatable.
  2. HR processes need to reflect the commercial skills and mind-set required of advisers – so a strategic competency framework that properly distills these skills and then flows through all HR processes, from learning to performance review to remuneration is essential.
  3. L&D managers need to increase the focus on commercial skills, including client service, business or commercial, project management, sales and pitches, financial analysis capabilities.
  4. Clients expect firms to invest in systems that underpin these business processes. Firm leaders may not understand this – there is a significant perception gap on this issue that BD and HR need to bridge. This report may help!
  5. Given the importance of both appraisals and learning, the business case for a PPS and LMS is a strong because it’s coming from clients.

Find out more about Managing Partner Forum and how your firm can join this peak organisation for professional services.

C-level priorities in law firms – a Managing Partners’ Forum update

March 16, 2012 - SkillsScorecard News

Managing Partners’ Forum, always a wonderful source of information on the professions, has recently published its quarterly CEO Priorities Monitor, and it makes for some interesting reading. The report highlights the priority areas for C-Suite executives in legal and professional service firms around the world.

For the Managing Partner and CEO, differentiating the brand and improving client relationships come first and second. Interestingly, and perhaps reflecting the difficult times faced by many European and American firms, increasing efficiency and leveraging technology are also high priorities.

For the COO the main priority is consistent client relationships and efficient systems.

For the CMO – no surprises – it’s client relationships.

For the CIO process improvement is a clear leader, followed by infrastructure and new systems.

For the Finance Director, cash flow sits first, with cost control, budgeting and profitability rounding out the top four.

For the HRD, motivation and reward lead the list, while leadership, career development, engagement and skills development also stand out. All of these items can ultimately be tied back to a strategy that is focussed on keeping and developing top performers.

For the CKO, systems and processes are number one.

For SkillsScorecard the out-take is simple: systems that can efficiently support firms to develop, engage and retain people are vital – and given the prevailing conditions – the time to look into them is now.

Managing Partners’ Forum, led by Richard Chaplin, is an independent professional body that represents the management team at professional firms worldwide. They conduct campaigns, events, research and Leaders’ Groups in areas such as Finance, HR, Knowledge and Marketing. With many hundreds of members the world over, MPF is the leader in advocating and supporting professional management in service firms. One of the main events in the MPF calendar is the MPF European Leadership Awards, an annual awards process and ceremony to recognise outstanding achievement in professional service firm management. Ray D’Cruz from SkillsScorecard a member of the international judging panel. Contact MPF here.

ALPMA HR Workshops

February 16, 2012 - SkillsScorecard News

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We’re delighted to be sponsoring the ALPMA Victoria and Queensland HR Workshops. The Workshops will cover a range of important HR issues in the legal industry.

Both workshops are facilitated by one of Australia’s leading consultants to the professional services sector, Kriss Will. Kriss will be joined by a range of HR and employment law experts. It’s one day in the HR legal calendar that should not be missed.

Victoria

Thursday, 22 March, 10am-4.30pm

Hall & Willcox, L30, 600 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Queensland

Tuesday, 27 March, 10am-4pm

Queensland Law Society Auditorium, L2, 179 Ann Street, Brisbane

As a major sponsor of these workshops, Ray D’Cruz from SkillsScorecard will be present at both workshop and information about SkillsScorecard will be available.

You can complete the pre-workshop survey of HR issues for law firms here.

Click here for the brochure to find out more and register.

November Update: Partners Managing People

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In our November Update, we launch our 2012 campaign, Partners Managing People.

Why have we chosen this campaign? Because law firm managers told us that partners managing people was their main talent retention challenge in a recent survey we conducted within the legal industry.

Their response makes sense when you consider that retention remains a challenge and partners are one the frontline. In Australia, top and mid-tier firms confronted average attrition rates of 21% in FY10/11. Despite difficult economic times, US firms dealt with similar attrition figures in 2010. Partners and managers have a huge impact on key retention drivers such as quality of work, career coaching and guidance, feedback and learning.

Throughout 2012, from our email communication to events and conferences, we will use this campaign focus to identify ways in which HR can support partners and managers to improve engagement and retention.

To read our November Update in full email us at info@skillsscorecard.com and we’ll send you a copy.

HR infrastructure challenges for growth firms

Small or boutique firms in strong growth phases face some infrastructure questions.

Specifically, at what point will they need to invest in finance, HR, BD and operational systems and processes?

There are some investments, such as practice management and billing systems that have to start with the first practitioner.

But there are others, like some HR systems, that must wait.

From our point of view, with a focus on performance and learning systems, we think the transition point is when firms hit 50-100 people (in total, not just lawyers).

At this point, a few things have taken place:

  • The charism of the founding partner or partners are stretched to the point where serious delegation of management responsibility has taken place
  • There will be a few relatively senior professional managers in place whose role it is to develop and implement new systems and processes
  • Practice groups have developed some real identity, with the resultant challenge of ensuring seamless client experiences across those groups
  • People are subjected to a wider range of management (and mismanagement) capabilities, resulting in the need for greater consistency
  • Professional staff have increased expectations about what the firm can do for them in terms of career development and learning opportunities
  • Firm turnover is permitting medium and long-term investment in resources that will ultimately lead to greater profitability

Importantly, it’s also the point at which the firm can afford professional HR support. Therefore it’s the point at which firms focus on issues like employer brand.

A typical approach to building HR infrastructure in these relatively lean firms will usually start with a competency framework (or role profiles) that reflect the firm’s strategy and culture. From there HR processes such as performance management, learning, recruitment and remuneration can be aligned.

SkillsScorecard to exhibit at the 2011 ALPMA Summit

May 31, 2011 - SkillsScorecard News

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SkillsScorecard has confirmed plans to exhibit at the 2011 Australian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) Summit. ALPMA is Australia’s leading association for those involved in law firm management.

The Summit will bring together over 200 participants from large, medium and small law firms throughout Australia and New Zealand. It will be held at Crown Towers, Melbourne from 16-17 September 2011.

There will be two-days of seminars and workshops on a range of management issues, from HR to Business Development to General Management. The themes of the Summit are “Adapt, Innovate, Inspire” and the organisers have arranged a diverse range of speakers and topics.

A key part of the Summit will be the Exhibition Hall where participants can learn more about the latest products and service.

SkillsScorecard will be located at Booth 5 in the Exhibit Hall.

To find out more about the Summit and why you should attend click here.

To find out more about ALPMA click here.

SkillsScorecard at the 2011 LIV Symposium

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SkillsScorecard will be exhibiting, sponsoring and presenting at the 2011 LIV Symposium, to be held on Monday 28 February.

As part of the Symposium, an inaugural HR Seminar will be held for HR professionals and for other staff with HR responsibilities. The seminar will include a presentation by Ray D’Cruz from SkillsScorecard on performance management challenges in 2011. It will be held at the LIV offices from 11am to 3.30pm. To view the HR Seminar click here.

Contemporaneously, an exhibition of legal support products- including SkillsScorecard – will be located at the RACV Club as part of the LIV’s Annual Symposium, timed in conjunction with the close of the CPD year. The Symposium will be held over two days, Monday 28 February and Tuesday 1 March. To learn more about the Symposium click here.

Please contact us at info@skillsscorecard.com if you have any questions.

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