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How to Incorporate LEAN

After deciding that document automation will become part of your workflow, the next step is thinking through how you might go about implementing this powerful technology. You can jump to these topics clicking the boxes below.

Document Automation TRIAD Button

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8 Wastes of DOWNTIME Button

Overview of DMAIC

LEAN DMAIC GraphicDefining Scope of a Lean Project

Define: Define a process that needs improvement. Define the scope and objectives of the system or process that needs improvement, really specify what creates value from the client's perspective.

The scope of a process improvement project must be very specific. “We want to make the process better,” is not good enough.

  • Set SMART goals
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant, and
    • Time-based
  • Examples: Reduce overhead by 4% by Q3. Decrease waiting time from opposing counsel by 2% by Q4.


Measure: Measure your current processes and assess the current states. Identify all the steps across the entire value stream for the particular process. It may be necessary to chart it out, using a program, a wall chart or pen and paper.

Break the process up into logical sub processes. For example, a divorce from start to finish is far to broad, but the filing process is a management sub process.

Draw a flowchart of all actions and inputs ending with a filed complaint at the court. Consider these questions:

  • How does someone at the firm know it’s time to start the filing?
  • Who does each step?
  • How do we get data from the client?
  • How much time does each step take?  You may have to time things as you do them for a while to be sure here.
  • What does each county need – what is their unique process?
  • What systems are used?
  • What is the flow of paperwork or electronic processing?
  • When is the client involved?
  • Who reviews?
  • Who approves?
  • How often are errors made that require additional processing?
  • How does it get to the court?

Gather all data regarding your process and map it out.


Once all of the data is gathered, and a team is in place to work on it – it’s time to put together a map.

A map can be done via software, as a list, as a flowchart, a white board, or even stickies on the wall.  All members of the team should be present so that they can share their input or see things from a different perspective.

The map should include the answers to the questions above, specifically, who

Sometimes when putting together a map, there are obvious places that you can eliminate waste (See DOWNTIME below). Other issues flush out as the mapping and analysis phase continues.

Analyze & Benchmark

Analyze: Analyze the measurements and understand what they mean. Analyze the process, quickly eliminating any easy wasteful steps. Review input and output data, such as costs, time to process, number of touches, etc. Note the flow of work and where the bottlenecks are that can be eliminated or improved.

Here are things to evaluate as you analyze the current state:

  • What is the cost of each step in the process?
  • How much is it costing you with the mistakes that you make?
  • How fast does each step take?
  • What type of flexibility is there in the process?
  • Is it something that can be standardized or does there need to be flexibility?
  • What's the dependability of that process?

Tools that you may need to add into the equation:

  • Financial data – income and profitability
  • Work in process
  • Operational data
  • Client data
  • Surveys (client, court and staff)
  • Process Maps


Improve: Improve the process with a future state scenario. Now, improve the process by creating a future state workflow that adds value and eliminates waste.  Work on a “just-in-time” basis pulling into the workflow only the work that adds value to the client.

With all of this information, it’s time to develop the future state by defining the gap between the current process and the desired performance.

  • Eliminate obvious waste.
  • Reorder the steps if appropriate.
  • Change job descriptions if necessary.
  • Reassign work.
  • Automate, automate, and automate.
  • Reduce or eliminate paper.
  • Include stakeholders.
  • Listen to all team members.
  • Increase value.


Control: Control the process by ongoing measurement and continuing the cycle of continuous improvement. Implement and manage the new process.  Measure the success it brings and modify it as necessary as the data shows. Your goal is to strive for perfection by continually removing waste and improving the process.

Once the new process is outlines, plan the implementation. Watch it and make sure it is working. If the new process is not perfect, send it back through the process and keep refining it.  As the business changes and grows, so shall the process. The more repeatable it is the easier it will be to adapt to change.

What is LEAN?

Why your practice should use LEAN

How to incorporate LEAN

LEAN tools & resources