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Theory of Constraints in a Law Firm
In the today’s society, the problem of the lack of enough resources is faced by the management of any law firm. This puts the firm under pressure to ensure that they have products that solve their clients’ problems. The theory of constraints applies the effect and cause thinking. Its aim is to understand and at the same time improve the performance of systems in the law firms (Anderson, 2004).
Theory of constraints was developed in 1984. It is a philosophy that was put forward by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt in the year 1984. Goldratt suggested that the delivery of services in a law firm is hampered by limitations that exist in the sector slowing down the firm’s operations and at the same time credibility of the law firm. Goldratt said that every law firm has at least one limitation that hinders it from delivering its maximum potential as it would be expected. This theory offers five steps that can be followed by any law firm for the improvement of productivity, efficiency, and profitability. This theory suggested ways to increase the capacity of service delivery of the entire law firm.
This theory takes a logic-based approach in its quest to solving the problem of inadequacy of resources. Resources constraint in a law firm ranges from the lack of qualified personnel to insufficient financial resources. This theory relies on the use of measurable data to determine the law firm goals. There are three measurements that attracted the author’s focus, which included operating expense, sales, and inventory. These three are collectively defined as throughput. For the law firm to become effective in delivering its services, the throughputs must be available. When the inventory declines and sales increase, the law firm is said to be effective.
When a law firm is implementing this theory of constraints, it should consider implementing it in a clear way just as it is stated. The first thing that needs to be considered is to ensure that the first major restrictive resource constraint of the bottleneck in the law firm is identified.
What follows after the identification of the major resource hindrance is the exploitation of the constraints. The major resource constraint to the law firms is examined and given special attention. Activities are designed on the constraining activity in order to tackle the challenge. The constraining element is dedicated maximum efficiency to ensure that the efforts relating to the resource constraints are not wasted on activities that are not important to the law firm (Goldratt, 2006).
The other activity in the theory of constraint moves from the resource constraint to the activities and processes of the law firm that are being delayed. Instead of slowing down some activities of the law firm to match the speed of the constraints, the elements that are idle in the law firm could move on to another task that increases production, thus meaning higher profits. An example is when the lawyers of a law firm are dealing with a certain case and this case happens to be pushed to six months from the date. This implies that these hired lawyers will remain idle for the next six months awaiting the case. Instead of these hired lawyers being idle and expecting wages, they can be made to represent the law firm in other cases.
After shifting of the workforce to other departments in the law firm, the next step in the theory of constraints is to determine whether the law firm’s delivery of services has increased or not. The final step in the theory of constraints is returning to the first stage in the chain. The first step is the determination of constraints and identifying a new constraint in the law firm.
Instead of a law firm reacting to negative factors that affect its operation, it should aim at improving the internal environment. The theory of constraints is rather a process of continuous improvement of the internal operation of a law firm. It is upon the management team to decide on what resources inside the firm need to be improved, what needs to be changed, and also what needs to be done to bring the change that is necessary for the law firm.
The resources that are to be changed in a law firm come from a list of observable signs, causes, and effects of the problems. These are core problems that are experienced in a law firm. These are the core problems in the organization and they are inevitable. In most cases, they remain unresolved for a long period of time. The theory of constraints will strive to improve available resources by the use of policies and control measures in order to modify or replace current resources in the law firm that are resulting in poor quality services.
The decision concerning what resources to change in a law firm challenges existing logical assumptions in the company. This is how the stride towards positive development in the firm usually starts. Changes need to have solutions to the problems that the firm facings, so that the firm can deliver high quality services. All potentially negative effects that are to be felt as a result of new policies being implemented by the firm are identified and listed. From these negative effects of new policies, systematic strategies can now be created with an aim of ensuring that adopted new measures work for the good of the law firm (Goldratt,1990).
Creating the needed resource changes is a challenge that is faced by many law firms. To cause the needed change, it is necessary to take into consideration unique features of the law firm. Successful implementation plans should include such data as when the change is to be expected and which person is to cause the needed change. In any law firm, there occurs resistance to the needed change. In order to be able to deal with these challenges, agreement must be reached with all the stakeholders in the law firm.
Active involvement of all people into the decision making increases the buy-in into the new policy and idea. This increases the chances of new policies and measures of being successful within the law firm. The services that are offered by a law firm should be in line with the market demand. It is upon the law firm to change the services it offers in the sector as it is essential.
A tactical objective map can be drawn for the law firm. The map will consist of the steps that are to be followed by the law firm while effecting the resource change in order to reach the required heights of operations. The charts act as an overall representation of the firm’s operations. It contains the steps that are to be taken by the firm for it to move from its current position and attain better results in the future. In other words, it is a representation of the measures that are taken by the firm in order to have the mental expectation about the future of the law firm (Cox & Schleier, 2010).
The theory of constraints has developed a process that is based on psychology and that addresses problems faced continuously by people when they are evaluating a change. It also involves stating the direction that the change is taking towards finding solutions to problems that are affecting them. It is also good that law firms engage in activities that show gratitude to their clients and lawyers who work for the firm for their contribution towards the company. Solutions that are suggested by the theory of constraints need to work for the good of the law firm.
The theory of constraints when applied in the law firm is beneficial to the firm as it improves the delivery of services even when the sales of the firm’s services have been limited by its inability to deliver due to many factors that tend to affect the company such as insufficient resources. Its aim is to identify the resource bottleneck and then to exploit it before the elevation occurs to boost the firm’s operations.
The theory of constraints identifies and elevates resource constraints that exist in any law firm. This theory when applied in any law firm will increase the quality of services within a certain period of time, decrease the average inventory, and reduce required time and the defects that might result from the firm’s operations.
Resource constraints affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the law firm (Rawls, 1971). In a law firm, resource constraints range from the incompetent staff and the outdated machines such as desktops and telephones. They affect the performance of the firm while bearing in mind that there could be some activities in this law firm that operates effectively. According to the theory of constraints, one must know how and what resources to change in the law firm for the desired change to occur.
This theory of constraints allows the use of a model that involves five steps that are to be followed by the law firm. The Goldratt model concerning the performance of a law firm is connected to tasks that occur around the firm. The efficiency and the performance of the entire law firm can be made to be fast using the theory of constraints.
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