I’ve talked before about strategic planning and its importance for the law firm library. We developed two strategic plans while I was at my last firm.
The first one was done after I had been there for a year and I knew the firm better by doing an information audit. I was the facilitator. It was a plan for the next 3 years and had the following components:
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
Our objectives were the following:
Objective 1: Identify and select external information resources in the appropriate format (print, electronic, audiovisual, etc.) to improve overall access to information and control costs
Objective 2: Develop internal information resources (KM)
Objective 3: Develop web applications for practice groups and administrative departments that support their goals and objectives and enhance firm processes
Objective 4: Develop timely training opportunities that provide attorneys and staff with the knowledge needed to perform the highest quality research in a cost effective manner.
Objective 5: Develop current awareness tools
Objective 6: Provide timely assistance in both legal and non-legal reference and research
Objective 7: Manage the physical and digital collection and maintenance of facilities used in the research process, administer online contracts and client billing for online research, and coordinate copyright compliance efforts
Objective 8: Continue to develop of knowledge about library management processes, information resources, and technology solutions
If they seem simple, it is because they defined what we did as a department. I felt this plan needed to be very task based as we were building a library where there wasn’t any leadership for 5 years – no director. Each objective had several goals and each goal had several actions.. .
The second plan was done with a consultant as facilitator. It is quite different than the first and follows the current thinking in strategic plans.
- Objectives that followed the firm objectives
- Each objective had a vision that stated where we wanted to be in 3-5 years and a list of goals needed to meet the objectives
While we had a strategic plan with objectives and goals, it did not include actions or strategies. We used an annual plan that outlined the strategies/actions we intended to work on each year. A report that included metrics for measuring the success of the strategy was done quarterly and at year-end.
Some things to think about:
- Don’t begin to develop your plan until you have talked to your clients to determine what your objectives and goals should be.
- If your firm has a strategic plan, use the objectives listed in that plan and develop goals to support them.
- While you may have an annual plan with quarterly reports to keep you on track, consider to maintain a document that reports on progress against goals/actions on a weekly/biweekly/monthly basis.
Moving from a task-based plan to one that focuses more on the big pictures was not easy as details are more familar to us as librarians. I will tell you it was worth the effort.